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Oracle wins round one in bare-knuckle Android patent suit

Judge shuns Google on Java patent terms

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Oracle has won an early round in what is sure to be an epic battle against Google over Android's use of Java.

This week, Judge William Alsup issued a "claims construction" order in which he sided with Oracle on the definition of four out of five patent terms that will help determine outcome of the company's lawsuit against Google and Android. On the fifth term, he sided with neither company, choosing to lay down his own definition. Oracle and Google have until May 6 to respond to the order.

Google did not respond to our request for comment.

A claims construction seeks to settle disputes between litigants over the definition of technical terms used by patents. Oracle and Google disagreed on the definition of six terms used in six of the seven patents Ellison and company asserted with their suit, and with this week's order, Judge Alsup addressed five of those terms. The sixth – which is "really at least three terms," the judge said – will be addressed at later date.

In August, Oracle filed suit in a Northern California federal court, accusing Google of deliberately infringing various Java-related patents and copyrights that Oracle acquired with its purchase of Sun Microsystems. The suit asserted seven patents, claiming infringement by Android, including Android's Dalvik virtual machine and the Android software development kit.

In November, as part of the case, Oracle claimed that Android's class libraries and documentation infringe on its copyrights and that approximately one-third of Android's API packages are "derivative" of Oracle's copyrighted Java API packages. It also produced six pages of Google Android code that it said were "directly copied" from copyrighted Oracle material.

Google later claimed that Oracle had redacted and deleted material from those six page of code.

But this week's order concerns the patent portion of the suit. The case is expected to trial in November. And oh what fun it will be. ®

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