Google asks US Patent Office to rethink Oracle Java patents

Android v Ellison rolls on

Google has asked the US patent office to reexamine four of the Java patents that Oracle is using to sue the company over the design of the Android operating system, according to a blog post from an American law firm.

On Wednesday, a "patent reexamination alert" from the firm Westerman Hattori Daniels & Adrian announced that Google has requested the ex parte reexamination of US Patents 5,966,702, 6,061,520, 6,125,447, and RE 38,104. All are Java-related patents belonging to Oracle, and all are part the lawsuit Oracle brought against Google last fall.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Oracle's suit claims that Android and its Dalvik virtual machine infringes on the four patents as well as three others and various Oracle copyrights. According to Scott Daniels, the author of the blog post, Google may seek reexamination of the three remaining patents as well. "Google might also request that the trial judge, Judge William H. Alsup, to stay the case pending completion of the reexamination proceedings, but such a stay might not be granted since Google and Oracle America are direct competitors and since reexamination could not resolve the copyright allegations," he said.

In the past, Google has said that Oracle's Java patents are invalid because "one or more claims are directed to abstract ideas or other non-statutory subject matter". The Supreme Court has ruled that one way to test the validity of patent is to ask if it's tied to a particular machine, and Google says that at least one Oracle patent is not.

In an effort to prove its copyright claims, Oracle gave the court six pages of Android code, saying they were "directly copied" from copyrighted Oracle code. Google later responded to say that Oracle "redacted or deleted ... both expressive material and copyright headers". Mountain View called these omissions "significant elements and features".

On Wednesday, Google also asked the court if it could file a summary judgement in an effort to have the copyright claims dismissed. Android's Dalvik virtual machine is based in part on code from Project Harmony, an open source implementation of Java that Oracle has not granted a license for use on mobile devices. ®

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