Developments in Oracle vs Google legal case

AP News
Posted: May 31, 2012 6:49 PM
Developments in Oracle vs Google legal case

Oracle Corp. had accused Google Inc. of patent and copyright infringement. Much of the dispute is over Google's Android, the mobile operating system that now powers more than 300 million smartphones and tablet computers.

Here are key developments in that case, which ended with a verdict in Google's favor on Wednesday:

Jan. 27, 2010: Oracle closes deal to buy Sun Microsystems and gets the Java computer programming language and related technology that is central to the lawsuit.

Aug. 12: Oracle sues Google in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Oracle says Google's Android system for mobile phones infringes on its patented Java technology.

Sept. 12, 2011: The CEOs of both companies are ordered to attend a court-supervised attempt to settle a lawsuit. They attend sessions on Sept. 19 and 21 with no settlement reached.

March 27, 2012: In a joint statement, the two companies indicate they are far apart of key matters. Oracle is seeking hundreds of millions in damages, while Google believes it won't have to pay more than a few million dollars.

April 16: Trial begins, with the copyright issues central to the first phase. In opening statements, Oracle says Google's top executives have long known that they stole a key piece of technology to build Android.

April 17: Google's opening statements frame the case as Oracle's response to its own failure to build mobile software. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison admits under questioning by Google that Oracle wanted to compete with Android before deciding instead to sue Google. Google CEO Larry Page also takes the stand, sporting a suit and tie that is a departure from his usual casual attire.

April 18: Page returns to the witness stand. The taciturn Page often looked uncomfortable, as he deflected questions about his role. He frequently said he couldn't remember seeing some of the internal Google documents that Oracle is using to build its case.

April 30: Lawyers make closing arguments on the copyright issues. Judge sends case to jury for deliberations.

May 3: A question posed in a note from one of the 12 jurors raises the specter of an impasse. The note asks what would happen if jurors couldn't agree on a verdict. The note also indicates that some jurors aren't budging from their positions. The judge overseeing the case gives jurors a pep talk before sending them home for the day.

May 4: Judge seems ready to accept a partial verdict until the foreman mentioned that some jurors believe some of the holdouts could change their mind over the weekend.

May 7: Jury issues partial verdict. Although it finds Google infringed on Oracle's copyrights over programming codes known as APIs, it reaches an impasse on whether Google was covered under "fair use" protections in U.S. law. The lack of a fair-use determination hobbles Oracle's ability to extract hundreds of millions from Google. The jury does find that Android infringed on nine lines of Java coding, but the penalty for that violation is confined to statutory damages no higher than $150,000. Second phase of trial begins with opening arguments on whether Google violated two of Oracle's patents.

May 23: Jury rules Google didn't infringe either patent. U.S. District Judge William Alsup dismisses jury, skipping the damages phase that had been originally scheduled.

Thursday: Alsup hands Oracle another setback, ruling that the APIs that were central to the case aren't subject to copyright in the first place. Google wasn't facing damages on that because of the impasse on the fair-use question. But the ruling could be important in an appeal. Oracle says it will appeal Alsup's ruling.