Google Inc. (GOOG), the largest Web search provider, didn’t infringe Oracle Corp. (ORCL)’s patents in developing Android software, a federal jury found in the second phase of an intellectual property trial in San Francisco.
The 10-person jury ruled unanimously yesterday that neither of the two patents at issue was infringed. Immediately after the verdict was announced, the judge dismissed the jury from the case and canceled the third phase of the trial over damages.
Oracle, the largest maker of database software, alleged Google stole two patents for the Java programming language when it developed Android, which now runs on more than 300 million smartphones. In the first phase of the trial, the same jury found the search engine company infringed Oracle’s Java copyrights while it couldn’t agree on whether the copying was “fair use.”
The jury verdict that Android doesn’t infringe Oracle’s patents “was a victory not just for Google but the entire Android ecosystem,” Catherine Lacavera, Google’s director of litigation, said in an e-mailed statement.
Google and Oracle’s experts had estimated damages for both patents at $3 million to $4 million if the jury found infringement.
“Oracle presented overwhelming evidence at trial that Google knew it would fragment and damage Java,” Deborah Hellinger, a spokeswoman for Oracle, said in an e-mail after the verdict. “We plan to continue to defend and uphold Java’s core write once run anywhere principle and ensure it is protected for the nine million Java developers and the community that depend on Java compatibility.”
U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who presided over the trial, said he may issue a ruling next on whether Oracle’s Java application programming interfaces, software tools at the heart of the case, can be copyrighted. A ruling that they aren’t would be another blow to Oracle.
Alsup must also still rule on Oracle’s motion for a patent- infringement judgment in its favor based on the evidence and on Mountain View, California-based Google’s request for a new trial on whether it infringed Java copyrights.
Without any verdict on fair use of the copyrights, Redwood City, California-based Oracle is prevented from seeking $1 billion in damages.
OSU Helps Develop New Cut of Steak, Seeks Patent on Technology
Oklahoma State University, working together with an outside agricultural consultant who styles himself as the “meat geek,” and a Chicago chef, has discovered a new cut of beef and is seeking a patent on the product.
The cut, known as the “Vegas Strip Steak,” is from a section of a beef carcass that previously ended up as hamburger. In a university statement, Jacob Nelson of the school’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center, said that previously the notion of finding a new cut of beef appeared to be “an impossibility.”
The Vegas Strip Steak “is the latest and perhaps last steak to be found on the beef carcass, he said.
Partnering with the university is Antonio Mata of North Richland, Texas-based Mata & Associates. He is a consultant with a doctorate in agricultural biochemistry and nutrition who bills himself as the “meat geek” on his website.
The technology is available for licensing through the Technology Development Center of the University of Oklahoma.
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Alleged Use of Logo Wins Activist Group Twitter Suspension
An activist group accused of using the logo of the London 2012 Olympic games without authorization had its account with Twitter Inc.’s short-messaging service suspended, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported.
San Francisco-based Twitter told the group its use of the logo in one of its postings could have been confused with the committee’s official postings, according to the newspaper.
The group, known as “Space Highjackers” told the Guardian it was engaging in “purely social commentary” and wasn’t trying to sell any fake products.
A spokesman for the committee said its takedown request was motivated solely by its desire to protect its logo and not over any concern with Space Highjackers’ message, according to the Guardian.
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Microsoft CEO Says China Intellectual Property Protection ‘Weak’
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), which is preparing to roll out its new Windows operating system, sees intellectual property protection in China as “still weak” making it difficult to sell legitimate software, Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said.
Still, Ballmer is “super excited” about growth in the China market, which is unique in being the largest for both phones and personal computers and is the fastest growing, he said in a speech at Peking University in Beijing May 22.
U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke last month said China’s lack of protection for intellectual property rights is hampering companies doing business in the country and that strengthening enforcement needs to be a top priority. The country’s illegal software market was worth almost $9 billion last year, versus a legal market of less than $3 billion, according to the annual report of the Business Software Alliance this month.
“China is a market that adopts technology, and yet China is a market where intellectual property protection is still weak,” Ballmer told more than 2,000 students. “In Microsoft’s case we are fortunate we can sell our products outside of China. For a Chinese developer, it’s probably tougher because your domestic market is a tough one in which to really sell software.”
Ballmer also met Vice Premier Wang Qishan May 22, Xinhua News Agency said. Wang said provincial governments will be using authorized software by the end of June and city and county governments will be in compliance by the end of 2013, the official news service reported yesterday. Central government organs “accomplished this goal” last year, Xinhua said.
Microsoft plans to challenge Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s dominance in tablet computers with Windows 8, a new operating system version designed to run touch-screen devices. The software is scheduled to go on sale around October, people with knowledge of the matter said in March.
Ballmer predicted that next year the same audience will be full of people carrying Windows phones. Windows 8 is almost like a new operating system and a complete “reimagining” of the Windows system to work on all devices from phones to tablets to desktop computers, he said.
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Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage
Ohio Considers Drilling Rules Opponents Say Favor Frackers
The Ohio House is preparing to vote on rules for natural- gas drillers that Republican Governor John Kasich calls among the nation’s toughest, even as environmentalists say they let companies decide which industrial chemicals stay secret.
The House Public Utilities Committee was to vote yesterday on a bill Kasich sought governing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, said Representative Peter Stautberg, the Republican chairman of the committee. The measure, which could get a full House vote today, would require disclosure of chemicals, water sampling before drilling and tracking wastewater into disposal wells. The Senate passed the bill May 15.
Kasich, 60, said the rules will help Ohio profit from a boom in fracking -- which involves injecting chemicals, water and sand underground to free gas reserves -- while protecting drinking water and the environment. Ohio has 72 horizontally drilled fracking wells, and the state Natural Resources Department projects that 2,250 will be drilled by the end of 2015.
“It sets up the most important, strongest, clearest and fairest regulations for hydraulic fracturing,” Kasich told reporters in Columbus, Ohio, on May 17.
States including Ohio, Pennsylvania and North Dakota are confronting the costs and benefits of fracking and how to regulate it. The industry says fracking is safe and allows increased production; environmental groups say it can lead to contamination.
While groups including the Columbus-based Ohio Environmental Council praised Kasich for seeking the law, they said the provisions don’t go far enough and are calling for changes.
The bill allows companies to shield chemicals as trade secrets, allows them to delay disclosure for 60 days after a well has been drilled, and places a “gag order” on doctors against disclosing information about chemicals that may have affected patients, said Thom Cmar, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Chicago.
The measure also ensures that while companies can appeal the denial of a state permit to drill for oil and gas, residents can’t appeal permit approvals, according to the Ohio Environmental Council in Columbus.
Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK), Devon Energy Corp. (DVN) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) are among companies drilling in Ohio’s Utica Shale rock formation. Its development will support 65,680 jobs and add $4.9 billion to the state’s economic output in 2014, according to a study released Feb. 28 by the Ohio Shale Coalition.
ABC Responds to Suit, Says ‘Big Brother’ Not a Secret
CBS Corp. (CBS)’s CBS Broadcasting unit sued ABC in federal court in Los Angeles May 10, claiming that “Glass House” infringed the copyrights and used misappropriated trade secrets belonging the “Big Brother” reality program.
The complaint noted that at least 19 former producers and staff members from “Big Brother” were working on “Glass House,” which CBS claims is a “carbon copy” of its show.
On May 21, ABC filed a statement in response to a CBS request to seal parts of the court filing. The network said that if and when CBS filed papers seeking a halt to the program, it will show that what it allegedly stole isn’t trade secrets. Those elements that CBS claims are proprietary and protectable “are generally understood principles related to reality show production,” ABC said.
Additionally, the information about “Big Brother” is “readily apparent from watching the television show, taking a behind the scenes tour or reading about the show on the Internet.”
CBS is represented by Blaine H. Evanson, Michael W. Seitz, Scott A. Edelman and Theane Evangelis Kapur of Los Angeles-based Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. ABC’s lawyers are Jonathan E. Altman, Carolyn H. Luedtke, Glenn D. Pomerantz, and Peter E. Gratzinger of Munger Tolles & Olson LLP, also of Los Angeles.
The case is CBS Broadcasting Inc. v. American Broadcasting Companies, 2:12-cv-04073-GAF-JEM, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).
IC3 Warns Updating Software Through Hotel Connection Risky
The center, which is a partnership between the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National White Collar Crime Center, said that some travelers’ laptops are becoming infected with malicious software that could potentially compromise the security of the computers’ contents.
The infestation comes after the traveler is presented with a pop-up window notifying the user to update a widely used software product. When the user clicks on this window and agrees to accept the update, the rogue software is installed on the computer.
According to the warning, the FBI recommends that all private industry, academic and government personnel who travel abroad “take extra caution before updating software products on their hotel Internet connections.” Instead, the FBI suggests, travelers should update their software directly from the software vendors’ websites before leaving home.
Those who believe they have been a target of such attacks are asked to contact their local FBI offices immediately, and to report the attack to the Internet Crime Complaint Center’s website.
McCarter & English Hired Former AstraZeneca Hatch-Waxman Expert
McCarter & English LLP hired Thomas A. Stevens for its IP and information-technology practice, the Newark, New Jersey- based firm said in a statement.
Stevens, who was previously assistant general counsel, global IP litigation at AstraZeneca Plc (AZN)’s AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals unit, will specialize in litigation related to pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
He previously served as senior patent litigation counsel at GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) and as senior deputy attorney general in Delaware’s Department of Justice. He also practiced in the patent litigation group at Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz LLP of Wilmington, Delaware.
He will be handling patent disputes arising under provisions of the Hatch-Waxman Act.
Stevens has an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in finance from Drexel University and a law degree from Widener University.
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