Oracle-Google Legal Spat Over Java API: Jury Deliberation Begins

1 May 2012, 12:27 pm EDT

On Monday, May 1, lawyers for Google and Oracle submitted closing arguments in a trial between the two companies over Google's use of Java software. Oracle claimed Google used Java in its Android operating system without obtaining a license.

The closing arguments in the San Francisco federal courtroom ends the first phase of the trial, which covered Google's alleged copyright infringement. Judge William Alsup said jury deliberations could take up to a week, after which Oracle and Google will contest potential patent infringement.

Google and Oracle CEOs, Larry Page and Larry Ellison respectively, appeared in court earlier this month, and Senior Vice President of Mobile at Google, Andy Rubin, among others, testified this month.

"Google executives knew this day would come. The digital smoking guns - "e-mail after e-mail" from Google executives like Rubin that discussed the licensing Google allegedly needed to obtain from Sun Microsystems, the original owner of Java which was acquired by Oracle by January 2010," Oracle counsel Michael Jacobs told the jury.

Jacobs also said that Google's claim that Java was not suited to smartphones before Android was inaccurate and Oracle's attorney said RIM, Nokia, among others, used Java in smartphones. The attorney also said Android has blocked other smartphones from using Java.

Additionally, the Oracle lawyer said Google's use of Java didn't fall under the fair use guidelines. Google didn't use the 37 Java APIs for "new and different purposes," instead copying the Java class libraries and reclassifying the libraries as Android class libraries.

Google's lawyer, Robert Van Nest, however asked the jury to disregard Oracle's claims on fair use and understand how Google used the APIs legitimately. Van Nest cited Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz, who said Java could be used without a license as long as it was called something else. Apache Software Foundation did exactly this.

"The Apache Foundation is totally free to ship their code into the market place. The only thing they can't do is call their product Java. We weren't going to give them a hall pass," he said.

The Google lawyer also asked the jury to consider the fact that Sun Microsystems approved Android's use of Java and made the software publicly available, and that Google adhered to fair use guidelines when developing Android.

Who do you think will win this courtroom battle? Leave your comments below.

(reported by Jonathan Charles, edited by Dave Clark)

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