A new development has turned some heads in the Oracle vs. Google courtroom. Google's attorneys just asked to introduce two documents into evidence from the US Copyright Office that show there's no record of what code Oracle submitted in connection with the registration of Java 2 SE 1.4 and 5.0. If Google can convince the court the copyright registrations are somehow invalid or improper, Oracle's copyright case will change somewhat dramatically: the company can still prove Google infringed its copyrights on Java, but the calculation of money damages will be shifted to "actual damages" and any wrongful profits Google may have collected due to the infringement. That's obviously not an easy task given that Google gives Android away for free, but we do know that Google tallies up Android profits and losses, so it's not impossible.
Challenging Oracle's paperwork is an interesting play at this point in the game
The first document indicates that a disc was submitted for Java 2 SE 1.4, but that there is now no data on the disc. Media is obviously known to go bad from time to time, but it presents a significant problem as there is no record of just what was submitted. The problem's even worse when it comes to Java 2 SE 5.0: the records from the Copyright Office show that no disc was submitted at all. Oracle contends that it has records that can show just what was submitted, while Google argues there's no way to put the veracity of the claims to the test without official backup.
Google has said throughout the trial that it is not contesting the ownership of the copyrights in question, so challenging Oracle's paperwork is an interesting play at this point in the game. Judge William Alsup has allowed the two documents into evidence; we'll be sure to let you know what happens next.