Google Says You Can’t Copyright A Programming Language, Oracle Says You Can

Posted on Apr 13 2012 - 11:06am by Editorial Staff

Oracle and Google are not intended to end the dispute our Java Patents to end soon, as US Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal had issued a court order stating that the two parties have failed to reach a mutually acceptable solution to their disagreement. Google earlier proposed to pay Oracle a percentage of Android revenue if Oracle could prove patent infringement. Oracle sued Google back in 2010 claiming that the search giant’s Android technology infringed Oracle’s Java patents. The judge issued an order last week requiring that both Google and Oracle provide their respective positions on a fundamental issue in the case:

Google goes on to explain that “a given set of statements or instructions may be protected, but the protection does not extend to the method of operation or system — the programming language — by which they are understood by the computer.” In response to Judge’s order, Oracle goes on to elaborate: “While copyrighting a computer language cannot prevent others from designing programming languages that serve the same functions, the detailed vocabulary and written expression of the computer language should be protectable elements if sufficiently original and creative.”

There are only two patents remaining in the case — US RE38,104 and US 6,061,520 — and Google proposed an ongoing royalty to Oracle of up to .015 percent of Android revenues for the ’520 patent, which expires in 2018, and up to .5 percent for the ’104 patent, which expires this December. Google is only offering to pay a total of $2.8 million for any past infringement of those patents. This debate makes for an interesting read for judges and lawyers, but we really have no idea at this point how it’s going to ultimately play out. However, the trial starts on Monday and apparently the judge is going to let the parties present their evidence and defenses to the jury for the entire copyright side of the case before ruling on this base issue.

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