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Oracle: Google had its head in the sand with alleged patent infringement

Oracle: Google had its head in the sand with alleged patent infringement


Google and Oracle's attorneys gave their closing arguments in the patent phase of the Android infringement trial, but not before a juror was dismissed due to a mishap with their vehicle.

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android robot doll (1020)
android robot doll (1020)

Oracle and Google's attorneys wrapped up their closing arguments today, sending the jury on to determine whether Google had infringed two Oracle patents — but not before one of the jurors was removed from the trial altogether. The day started off at 7:30AM per the court's normal schedule, but things ground to a halt when word came that one of the 12 jurors had not yet arrived due to car problems. When it became clear the transportation issues were not going to be resolved, three options faced the court: send a US Marshal to bring the juror back, postpone proceedings for a day, or dismiss the juror outright. Judge Alsup, in agreement with both Google and Oracle, went with the third option. As there are no alternates in this particular case, the trial will be moving forward with just 11 jurors.

Oracle accused Google of making "a word argument"

Oracle counsel Michael Jacobs made the company's closing argument, putting particular emphasis on the nature of Google's case; essentially, that the company was making "a word argument" in lieu of any substantive defense. The infringement of both the '104 and '520 patents has boiled down to just a handful of essential, but opposing, viewpoints: what constitues a symbolic reference vs. a numeric reference, whether runtime operation is necessary for object linking to be considered dynamic, and what the precise definition of "simulation" is in a functional context.

Jacobs then delved into the willfulness issue, which had been moved into this portion of the trial just yesterday. One element of Google's defense here has been that it was never notified that it had been infringing any patents until this lawsuit was filed, and therefore couldn't have investigated its own code. Comparing the argument to a person driving the wrong way down a one-way street — feigning innocence because they wouldn't know which precise vehicle would strike them — Jacobs stated that the company intentionally moved forward with its plans even though it knew patent problems were afoot. Jacobs even displayed an image of an ostrich with its head buried in the sand as his argumentative coup de grace.

Rubin said he wanted his engineers writing code, not reading patents

In response, Google counsel Robert Van Nest demonstrated the same effectiveness he showed in closing out the copyright phase of the trial, taking down both Oracle's technical witness and its main arguments point by point. Underscoring inconsistencies in Dr. John Mitchell's report — ones that did seem to indicate a shift on the symbolic vs. numeric reference issue — he then walked the jury through expanded deposition quotes and source code snippets, all of which painted a compelling picture on Google's behalf. He closed out his argument with a clip from Andy Rubin's deposition testimony, where Rubin took on the issue of willfulness and patent awareness head-on. When dealing with so many patents from the likes of Microsoft, RIM, Motorola, and others, Rubin said, it doesn't make sense to have his engineers going through legal language; he wants them writing code.

Having already used up the majority of his time, Jacobs had a brief six minutes to rebut Van Nest's engaging performance. Contrasting with his closing argument — and perhaps giving an indication of how Oracle's legal team felt Google did with the jury — Jacobs seemed defensive, even striking what sounded like a note of desperation towards the end. When addressing whether Google had access to the patents in question, he exclaimed "they index the world's information!"

In the verdict form, the jurors are being asked to decide specifically whether six different claims in the '104 patent and two claims in the '520 patent have been infringed — and if so, if the infringement was willful. A finding of willful infringement could have significant implications in the damages phase of the trial, but we're still several steps away from that point. The jury is currently in deliberations. It took them a week to come to a partial verdict in the copyright portion of the trial; hopefully they'll return their findings earlier for the patent case. We'll be there when they do.