Oracle Judge Tells Jury to Keep Trying Amid ‘Possible’ Deadlock
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A juror in Oracle Inc. (ORCL)’s copyright- infringement trial against Google Inc. (GOOG) asked the judge for guidance about not being able to reach a unanimous verdict, raising the possibility the panel is deadlocked.
U.S. District Judge William Alsup, presiding over the trial in San Francisco, sent the 12-member jury home yesterday with orders to return today to “start fresh.” He proposed to Oracle and Google lawyers, without the jury present, that they accept a partial verdict if there are questions the panel agrees on, and said the trial should move into the next phase dealing with patent-infringement claims.
While the juror didn’t say in the note, which came on the third day of deliberations, the panel was deadlocked, Alsup told lawyers “it’s possible” that is “what’s going on.”
The panel is weighing whether Google infringed parts of Oracle’s Java programming language that the search engine provider used to develop the Android operating system for smartphones, now running on 300 million devices.
Oracle, the largest maker of database software, is seeking $1 billion and a court order blocking Google from distributing Android unless it pays for a license. Google claims the parts of Java it used aren’t covered by copyrights and that its use of Java, a free language, was fair and legal.
Jurors must decide whether Google infringed copyrights and, if so, whether the copying was “fair use,” meaning that it added something new or functional to Java that is in the public interest.
Google, owner of the most popular search engine, needs more evidence to back up a document claiming Android software lost money in 2010 and made a small profit in the first half of last year, Alsup said yesterday during a hearing. Android’s profits would be used to compute damages that may be owed to Oracle if Google is found to have infringed its copyrights in a way that wasn’t fair use.
Google’s revenue for Android was $97.7 million in the first quarter of 2010 and there was a “big loss for the whole year,” Alsup said while looking at a Google document that is sealed from public view. The document shows that Google made “a small profit” for the second half of 2011, Alsup said.
Oracle’s attorneys say Google executives have been unable to confirm the Android financial figures, including expenses that lowered profits. After hearing arguments from lawyers for both companies, Alsup ordered Google to produce documents that back up the figures.
“It’s unclear to me that anyone can vouch for these numbers,” he said.
Jim Prosser, a Google spokesman, declined to comment on the figures.
Google doesn’t break out how much in search and advertising revenue it makes from searches done on Android mobile devices. The company doesn’t charge for Android, which is free for programmers to develop applications for Android devices.
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