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Patent testimony wraps up in Oracle vs. Google as damages phase looms

Patent testimony wraps up in Oracle vs. Google as damages phase looms


Oracle and Google finished presenting evidence today in the patent phase of Oracle's infringement case against Android, with several rulings from Judge Alsup this morning providing a clearer picture of what we can expect in the forthcoming damages phase.

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Oracle pic

Oracle and Google rest their respective cases today in the patent phase of the infringement trial, marking what Judge Alsup called "a milestone" — but things are still far from over. Doctors David August and John Mitchell faced off in what amounted to a technical expert duel, each rebutting the other's testimony in connection with the two patents Oracle has accused Google of infringing. Closing arguments will begin tomorrow.

Several rulings this morning also provided a clearer picture of what the rest of the trial will look like. On Friday, both Google and Oracle had discussed dropping the damages phase of the trial altogether, but Oracle's decision to reject statutory damages in lieu of going after Android profits caused Judge Alsup to rule that a third phase would be happening regardless. Over the weekend both companies came to an agreement that any testimony on whether Google's patent infringement — if any is found — had been committed willfully would be moved into the current phase of the trial. As neither of today's witnesses touched on the topic, however, it appears this will be an issue addressed in closing arguments only.

The judge called Oracle's hopes for damages "a hyper-extreme position."

As for the damages phase itself, we know Google will be facing at least two counts: copyright infringement for the use of nine lines of rangeCheck code, and for copying eight decompiled Java test files. Judge Alsup continued to voice his displeasure over Oracle's decision to purse larger damages, stating he felt there was "no way the law would allow a disgorgement in the billions, of hundreds of millions" in connection with the two counts, calling the idea "a hyper-extreme proposition." As for the patent claims, the jury will begin deliberations tomorrow on whether Google directly infringed the two patents in question. If the jury does find Google guilty of patent infringement, Mountain View's attorneys agreed to have Judge Alsup rule unilaterally that indirect infringement also occurred (indirect infringement would consist of Google's actions encouraging other parties to infringe, such as third-party OEMs).

Of course, we still have the outstanding question of whether Judge Alsup will grant Google's request for a mistrial in the face of the jury's inability to agree if Google's infringement of 37 Java APIs was covered by fair use, to say nothing of the underlying question of whether the structure, sequence, and organization of the APIs can be copyrighted in the first place. Even as we near the final lap, there's still much to be decided, and we'll be there tomorrow as closing arguments begin.

Matt Macari contributed to this report.