It took the Oracle vs. Google jury a week to reach its partial verdict on the copyright claims in the case, and the patent phase isn't moving any faster as the jury began its second week of deliberations today, with no sign of a verdict in sight. The last few days have seen the jurors submit a number of questions to the court — they had five yesterday alone — addressing the technical nuances of the alleged infringement of the '104 and '520 patent claims. Not only has the jury requested that trial testimony be read to it several times, it's even asked for re-reads of the answers to questions it previously asked during deliberations. The jury has most recently taken the step of asking multiple versions of what essentially amounts to the same question, to the increasing frustration of Judge William Alsup.
While it appeared last week that the jury had moved on from the claims in patent '104 to the '520 patent, signaling an imminent decision, things quickly veered in the opposite direction this past Friday. The issue of symbolic references in Android was raised again by the jurors — Google has made the difference between symbolic and numeric references a integral part of its defense — followed by a question that openly asked why a unanimous verdict was required in the first place. While no mention of a deadlocked jury was made, it certainly wasn't a promising sign, particularly given the jury's previous troubles in this case. The inquiries came from a jury of just 10 individuals, with one of the members dismissed from the trial due to illness.
"Once again, the lawyers are zero help... the judge will have to figure it out on his own."
Three additional questions were asked today, all seeking further clarification on the symbolic references issue. It speaks to the effectiveness of Google's defense; the jury is asking questions on the terms of the search giant's argument, not Oracle's, and short of a finding of no infringement a hung jury is some of the best news Google can hope for. The continued delay isn't pleasing Alsup, however. Yesterday the judge scolded both sides, telling them he hoped they'd learned a lesson for future patent cases, and that while they may be able to draw up great strategies "in your rooms with your whiteboards... things don't come down that way in the courtroom sometimes." His exasperation continued today. After consulting both attorneys for input in answering one of the jury questions, Alsup told the courtroom that "once again, the lawyers are zero help... the judge will have to figure it out on his own."
Alsup actually suggested everyone take a few days off — a request he was making for personal reasons, he told the jury — and if a verdict is not reached by 1pm Wednesday the trial will be on hold until next Tuesday, May 29th. With the jury continuing to ask questions it obviously feels aren't being answered sufficiently, it's hard to know just when the jurors will reach a unanimous decision (even if it's a decision that they're deadlocked). Deliberations have just ended for the day and will be resuming tomorrow at 8:00AM PDT. We'll be there to let you know when the jurors finally arrive at a decision.