The first phase of the Oracle vs. Google trial saw the jury give their verdict in Oracle’s favour as they agreed that Google’s use of the 37 Java APIs infringes upon Oracle’s copyrights. Following constant arguments over the issue of programming languages being copyrightable or not, the jurors believe they are copyrightable.
Oracle has accused Google of infringing upon their copyrights and patents while using the Java technology to develop their Android software. They are now demanding damages from Google that mount up to $1 billion. Google, in its defense, believes that an open source programming language like Java cannot be copyrighted. Unfortunately for Google, the selected jury and the judge may not be well equipped to make a fair decision in this case. The jury consisted of people who were unaware of technical language and had little or no knowledge of the concepts related to the case. It included a plumber, a postal worker, a nurse, a store designer for GAP, a retired photographer and a city bus driver, in order to avoid any sort of prejudice.
Andy Rubin, founder of Android stated in court that he was under the impression that the Java APIs being used were not copyrighted and Google would not have to acquire a license from Sun. According to Eric Schmidt, former CEO for Google, the company did not require anyone’s permission to use the Java programming language. Oracle placed forward arguments that brought to light the fact that the CEO of Sun back then was trying to acquire licensing fees from Google.
Even as technical terms and concepts were being used during the proceedings of the case, explanations for the same were being provided to the jury. Schmidt, through his testimony, tried to explain to the presiding judge the manner in which methods and classes work. He also tried to explain to the jury the concept of APIs and the manner in which Java’s class libraries function. Schmidt refused to answer a question which had not been framed correctly, that is, using general terms.
The point being, with executive and attorneys themselves not being entirely aware of the inner workings of Java, the jury and the judge were equally not well blessed with the required technical knowledge to arrive at a logical and final decision, no matter how free of bias it is. Patent claims and damages charged will be covered in the remaining two trials of the case.