Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Android The Courts Google Oracle Your Rights Online

Jury May Be Deadlocked In Oracle-Google Trial 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the 12-angry-iphone-users dept.
angry tapir writes "The jury may have reached a deadlock in the copyright phase of Oracle's intellectual property lawsuit against Google, although the judge cautioned against jumping to any conclusions. 'What happens if we can't reach a unanimous decision and people are not budging?' one of the jurors asked in a written note sent to the judge. The 12 jurors have been deliberating the copyright phase of Oracle's lawsuit against Google since Monday, and they need to be unanimous in any verdict they reach." According to Groklaw, Judge Alsup raised the possibility of a partial verdict — accepting the issues the jury can agree on and then retrying the rest. Google was less amenable to that than Oracle. Update: 05/04 21:05 GMT by S : The jury has reached a verdict on all claims but one. However, the judge sent them home for the weekend. On Monday they'll vote again and see if they can resolve the last claim.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Jury May Be Deadlocked In Oracle-Google Trial

Comments Filter:
  • by tebee (1280900) on Friday May 04, 2012 @03:15PM (#39894251)

    I can't help feeling this whole thing has be a gigantic waste of time and money

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Blame Oracle.

      They're the assholes who bought the software with the belief that they could take away something that was once freely given, and ruin a nice thing for lots of people.

      • Blame our shitty patent system. Oracle is just doing what any rational actor would do in a system where being "nice" has practically zero reward, and where anybody can shut you down and steal your money at any time. When defense is not possible, you must attack first.

        That doesn't make Oracle any less shitty, and we certainly shouldn't forgive them for their actions, but they're a sociopathic institution, and yelling at them about it will have just as much effect as trying to make Ted Bundy feel guilty. It's

        • by bmo (77928) on Friday May 04, 2012 @03:36PM (#39894609)

          Blame our shitty patent system.

          This has absolutely nothing to do with patents.

          --
          BMO

          • by sconeu (64226)

            Blame our shitty patent system.

            This has absolutely nothing to do with patents.

            Not yet. Phase 2 of the trial is patents.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Fine. Blame our shitty intellectual "property" system.

        • This is now a copyright case. THe patents were ruled invalid in the case. THe case effects everyone in I.T. and Oracle is willing to ruin the whole industry so Elison can make a few billion more.

          If the whole api and language is copyrighted on sytnax the whole world will change as everyone from car part manufactures to people who the phillips head can have 170 year monopolies and prevent anything from working together.

          • by foobsr (693224) on Friday May 04, 2012 @03:53PM (#39894883) Homepage Journal

            If the whole api and language is copyrighted on sytnax the whole world will change as everyone from car part manufactures to people who the phillips head can have 170 year monopolies and prevent anything from working together.

            Not the whole world, the U.S. will drop back to somewhere around the stone age. The global rest will be somewhat relieved.

            CC.

            • Dvd Jon got arrested for breaking a us law in Norway. Trade laws and Nafta make this ignorant jury will determine your rights anywhere in the world.

              This will make the fat cats much bigger and send everyone but China in the stone age. The fat cats will then use their money gained to lobby for new laws to prevent reform and ignore the electorate.

              • by foobsr (693224) on Friday May 04, 2012 @07:24PM (#39897473) Homepage Journal

                Dvd Jon

                Debatable, quote: "As stated, the prosecution did not appeal to the Norwegian Supreme Court, so the last ruling is seen as a resounding legal victory for the defendant. Norwegian consumer groups like Electronic Frontier Norway were delighted. Having been ethically convinced throughout of the legitimacy of their cause, they now have legal backing—at least in Norway. DVD-Jon and like-minded spirits, encouraged by the rulings, see themselves, and are seen, as crusaders of the open source movement." (http://informationr.net/ir/10-3/paper230.html)

                send everyone but China in the stone age

                Probably a then 'better' (not that I think China is an alternative to be preferred) model will find followers? Who wants stone-age money (which is virtual anyway by way of fractional banking, automated trading etc.)?

                CC.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Try to imagine all innovation as you know it stopping instantaneously and every copyright using on a prior copyright exploding at the speed of light.

            I almost hope it happens and the resulting factorial of lawsuits 1) destroys oracle and bankrupts Ellison for being the greedy pricks that set off the MAD arms race that is the tech industry's "IP" and 2) shows the public how letting mickey mouse rape them for 170 years kills the "innovation" economy we are supposed to lead the world with on after we let all ou

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            You need to read up on this some more before posting. Some of the patents were indeed ruled invalid. Not all of them. The case is running in multiple phases. The judge started with the Copyright part - where Oracle seems to think you can copyright an API. The jurors may be deadlocked on that because the judge instructed them to assume that you can copyright an API in their deliberations. The Patent phase will be coming directly after the Copyright phase ends.
          • by oakgrove (845019)
            False alarm, they've been sent home at the hopes that a complete decision can be made after one more day of deliberation, e.g., Monday.
        • by GodInHell (258915)

          Oracle is just doing what any rational actor would do in a system where being "nice" has practically zero reward, and where anybody can shut you down and steal your money at any time. When defense is not possible, you must attack first.

          Google is absolutely the last company you need to worry about bringing a flotilla of patent suits. It took a concerted effort by Microsoft and Apple to get Google to even start looking at patent portfolio purchases (c'est la vie Motorolla, we knew ye well, but now you're worthless except for the sweet IPs). Oracle wanted to take a chunk out of google . . . period.

      • by Lisias (447563)

        [troll mode on]
        Blame SCO Group.

        Good old times. I miss that naïveness...
        [troll mode off]

        We missed the chance to avoid all this mess at that time. We should had ripped off the pants of the SCO for damages, and encouraged the "shareloosers" to sue the management for mischief.

    • by sl4shd0rk (755837)

      gigantic waste of time and money

      When's the last time you saw a copyright lawsuit that wasn't?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Whether APis are copyrightable is a matter for professional bodies in computing to consider, such as the ACM and IEEE, not judges nor politicians. It's a technical matter.

      And if this technical matter were decided at the professional body level, then this entire farce would have been avoided, because professionals in the discipline would not be stupid enough to deny interoperability by making APIs copyrightable.

      Neither the judge nor (even less) the jury have the skill and background to make a sound decision

      • by Ash Vince (602485) * on Friday May 04, 2012 @04:21PM (#39895337) Journal

        Whether APis are copyrightable is a matter for professional bodies in computing to consider, such as the ACM and IEEE, not judges nor politicians. It's a technical matter.

        And if this technical matter were decided at the professional body level, then this entire farce would have been avoided, because professionals in the discipline would not be stupid enough to deny interoperability by making APIs copyrightable.

        Neither the judge nor (even less) the jury have the skill and background to make a sound decision in this area.

        Normally I ignore AC's but in this case you hit the nail completely on the head.

        This is ta big problem facing our society now: that juries made up of laymen or judges are expect to rule on things they have no clue about and the time taken to educate them is simply unfeasible.

        I have been developing software professionally for a decade or so (3 decades if you count when I first learnt basic) and I still have a great deal to learn. I would still have to sit down and draw on much of my experience when it came to deciding this case. I do not see how someone who has just completed coding 101 could really understand the full implications of their decision, let alone someone who has not even got that far.

        I also do not think that a sensible decision is that likely if the jury are only able to base it on which witness the sound of liked better.

        It would be like basing who runs a country based on a some sort of popularity contest. Oh crap, we actually do that as well :(

        • So, you can make that argument about pretty much everything. Judges and juries don't understand programming, material sciences, biological sciences, physics, chemistry, electronics, avionics, Bernoulli's principle and pretty much anything beyond lunch time.

          That's what experts are for. The bigger problem is that legislators don't understand that stuff either so they make batshit stupid laws. Don't know how you're going to get around that except perhaps nuke the place back into the 16th Century.

          It's the o

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          And this is why the "powers that be" would like us to be fat, dumb, happy, and most of all uninformed. Actually being stupid helps, too, but that is not actually mandatory so long as any intelligence can be directed towards meaningless pursuits like slashdot

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Copyright is not a matter of social or industry benefit, it's a matter of law. Thus, it's a matter for judges (and juries) to determine if APIs are copyrightable under current law, and for Congress to decide if they should be and, since they obviously shouldn't, to fix the law they are (or if the law is sufficiently unclear that judges end up misunderstanding it to that effect).

        We separate legislative and judicial powers for a reason, and you seem to be confusing what should be legal (legislative power) wit

        • Copyright is not a matter of social or industry benefit, it's a matter of law.

          From which it logically follows that law is not a matter of social or industry benefit.

      • by Gimbal (2474818)

        Neither the judge nor (even less) the jury have the skill and background to make a sound decision in this area.

        Sounds like a fair argument for the appeal. In appealing any verdicts to the contrary, hopefully they'll think of that ... hopefully.

    • by noh8rz3 (2593935)
      don't hate the players; hate the game.
  • If this case isn't proof that the US Patent and Copyright System need reforming, I don't know what is...
    • by jesseck (942036)
      This is not proof that the patent and copyright systems need reform... This is proof our justice system works. That's how I would spin it.
  • by Xtifr (1323) on Friday May 04, 2012 @03:40PM (#39894673) Homepage

    The judge declined to decide in advance whether the APIs are copyrightable at all, but has reserved that decision to himself. In the interest of judicial economy, in the face of an almost certain appeal--no matter which side wins--the judge decided to instruct the jury to assume the worst case: that the APIs are copyrightable, and can be infringed. That way, if the appeal overturns a point of law, the issues of fact won't need to be retried. No need for a new jury. Unfortunately, this may have given the jury the idea that Google was definitely guilty of something.

    Note that all existing precedent is against the notion that APIs are copyrightable. And that even before the recent EU decision (which the judge has asked the parties to brief him on). Oracle's argument for why their/em API should be considered special basically boils down to "it was hard!" But the SCOTUS recently reaffirmed that "sweat of the brow" is not a valid argument for copyrightability.

    • by sconeu (64226)

      And we then have the case where if Judge Alsup's ruling gets overturned, then Google has an appeal based on improper jury instructions.

  • ..break out your Initech Jump to Conclusions Mat.
  • by FunkyELF (609131) on Friday May 04, 2012 @03:48PM (#39894805)

    You had the previous 2 CEO's of Sun contradicting each other and the current Oracle CEO not able to give a yes or not answer to "Is Java free".

    How are 12 Joe-Six-Pack's supposed to come up with a yes or no answer to something explained to them through car analogies?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Not to mention a jury selection process that has ensured that there is absolutely no one on the jury with any industry experience capable of making an informed decision, under the veil of "Bias".
      • by AvitarX (172628)

        People say that, but judges don't really allow that, and sometimes they allow very few (or none) to be kicked off without cause (though generally it's a couple each side, out of a pool of 100).

        They real skew is that for trials over 3 weeks, judges allow pretty much anyone not employed by the government, or a large company to say, can't do it. You end up with mostly unemployed people, and retirees. With the economic condition as it is though, there tends to be some engineers in the pool even after the hardsh

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday May 04, 2012 @04:13PM (#39895233) Homepage

    I have been following the trial closely through Groklaw and have observed many interesting things about the progress of this case. Oracle's case has been rather nebulous from the beginning and rather reminds me of the SCO vs. IBM case in many ways including the question of whether or not they actually have the right to sue. Oracle has changed its position several times on several issues from the beginning of this case. In one instance, Oracle agreed to drop one of its claims associated with a patent which was under appeal at the USPTO. It had been rejected recently after it was re-examined. And since the case was still going to trial on schedule, Oracle agreed to drop its claim associated with that patent. But after the trial started, the USPTO approved the patent appeal and then Oracle sought to reinstate its claims against Google for the patent it had agree to drop. In my opinion, it just goes to show Oracle's understanding of what "agreement" means. They already agreed to drop the patent issue. The judge accepted the agreement and wrote "...it is so ordered." DONE is DONE. Oracle may have felt "it won't hurt to ask will it?" Well, yeah, it might... and it did. The judge was annoyed as having to remind Oracle of its agreement and denied its request.

    During the copyright phase of the trial, Oracle was pretty "confusing" when it came to its assertions about what is copyrightable. Even people who might be inclined to side with Oracle and knows a bit about copyright law would likely have been astounded at some of their claims. Nevertheless, they made their assertions which were countered by Google. But the thing is, some people are always inclined to err on the side of the plaintiff when they don't understand something or if they believed what Oracle said and simply shut out what Google had to offer as a counter. (This is typical in cases of "belief.")

    And the judge already saw this happening even while the trial was in progress. Immediately after the jury went off to decide how to rule, the judge set about trying to manage how a hung jury would be handled or mitigated. He did NOT waste any time on the matter. And this well-timed ruling by an EU court lead to the judge asking questions of Google and Oracle on the matter as the question was rather relevant to the Oracle v Google case.

    But Oracle's misinformation isn't limited to asserting what is copyrightable, what portions are copyrightable and all that (and it turns out that Google contributed to Java's code!! How interesting that Google can contribute code to Java and then get sued for it!) it turns out that Sun's CEO blogs were characterized as "unofficial." This claim, of course, is in sharp contrast the the SEC filings Sun had presented in the past. So the blog WAS, in fact, official in function and content. (It's probably not perjury though...Oracle simply didn't know... maybe...)

    Google has played their side pretty openly. They didn't hide anything in their case and remained rather consistent in their defence and restated their case consistently throughout. Oracle, on the other hand continues to be elusive and imprecise with their case. Their case had crumbled significantly during pretrial motions and have tested the patience of the judge on numerous occasions. Meanwhile, Google remained cooperative and responsive to the judge and the case. (Seriously, Google wore an extremely white hat in all of this... I rather expected a bit of wriggling and resistance on Google's part, but I just didn't see it... so please, if anyone has an opinion to the contrary, visit Groklaw and show me an example of Google playing games with the legal system. I could be wrong, I just don't think so in this case.)

    So any jury in a case of copyright infringement is already challenged by the likes of MPAA and RIAA cases. The jury most often wants to side with the plaintiff as we have seen in the past and grants ridiculously large and punitive awards. And we have seen the transcripts of these trials and the preposterous claims wh

    • by dcigary (221160) on Friday May 04, 2012 @05:20PM (#39896151) Homepage

      ...Oracle, on the other hand continues to be elusive and imprecise with their case....

      This basically sums up my 20 years of experience with Oracle Salesmen.

      The unspoken rule of thumb with Oracle sales is that there is no "list price" on anything. You price it for whatever you think you can sell it for.

      This whole affair doesn't surprise me one bit that Oracle hired a team of lawyers that operate exactly like they do - get as much as you can get, and offer elusive and imprecise information during the negotiations.

    • by luther349 (645380)
      jurys tend not to side with the riaa why they do this whole settlement scam. they lost more cases then they won. and the ones they did one they all but admitted they downloaded the songs.
      • by erroneus (253617)

        The huge and outrageous wins the RIAA has made far overshadow any losses in court. The reason for settling out of court is because it's cheaper and a more guaranteed win for them. Settlements are what they are targetting every time. It is beneficial to all to stay out of court for various reasons.

  • Instead of asking them to assume that the API was copyrighted as a factor in their decision, the jury should have simply been asked to come to a decision about whether Google copied the API or no. Whether it is copyrighted or not is superfluous to whether or not they copied it... it is only relevant to the issue of copyright infringement. Whether they copied it or not is superfluous to whether or not the API should be subject to copyright. Either way, it's a non-sequitor.
    • The question as to whether or not they copied the API is not at issue, Google has admitted to copying a subset of the API. The question the jury is deciding is whether or not this is fair use under copyright law, or whether it falls into the other areas where copying is allowed.

      • by mark-t (151149)
        If something is copyrighted, it's pretty hard to consider copying it 100% verbatim as "fair use"
      • by Xtifr (1323)

        Google has admitted to copying a subset of the API

        More like, "has never denied". "Admitted" makes it sound like they were forced to reveal it; on the contrary, they copied it openly, publicly, and were praised by Sun for doing so. Until Sun got bought and the new owners decided they wanted to retroactively change the rules (shades of SCO).

  • by ffflala (793437) on Friday May 04, 2012 @06:37PM (#39897025)
    I don't envy that jury at all. Google is claiming "fair use", which is really a difficult, and nebulous concept. Hell, it's a rough subject for law school students to grasp in copyright courses.

    At first look, fair use doesn't seem that difficult. US Copyright law identifies four factors to be used to determine whether an infringement is excused as "fair use":

    1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
    3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    Problems: each of those factors already starts out as a vague kind of grey area, and while some examples are provided in the legislative history, none of those is further defined in the statute. On top of that, there's a rather large amount of case law focusing on what each of the four factors really means in any given context.

    While it's easy enough to armchair lawyer yourself and just blow through a fair use analysis, that's simply not how it works at trial. Determining whether or not it's fair use when there is already solid precedent for your context is tough enough -- making that decision on a novel concept is just a motherfucking bear.
    • The law is less precise than people make it out to be. There still hasn't been a defining legal case for fair use the way that there have been for other aspects of the law, and I doubt that this will be the one. The likely outcome is a sort of average of what both sides arguing: Google gets to keep doing what it's doing, Oracle gets more money than they deserve, nothing changes on the legal front. The SCOTUS cases that happen happen out of desperation —the plaintiff or defendant has so much at stake
  • by Beeftopia (1846720) on Friday May 04, 2012 @11:04PM (#39898773)

    You have two multibillion dollar companies hiring the best lawyers money can buy, both arguing complex legal and technical issues. And a group of yokels you picked at random off the street - a group that can afford to sit through a long trial - is supposed to correctly decide the case on its merits?

    I think the jury system, while laudable in its intent, is terribly flawed.

    • by Thuktun (221615)

      If it's a "jury of your peers", and you're a corporation, shouldn't other corporations be the jury?

      After all, corporations are people, too.

  • For the jurors' sake, I hope they don't choose process termination to resolve the deadlock.

Surprise your boss. Get to work on time.

Working...