Jury finds Google liable for copyright infringement

A jury has found Google Inc. liable for copyright infringement in its use of Java in its Android mobile operating system, but has not managed to decide whether that infringement was protected by rules governing “fair use.”

The verdict, delivered Monday after a week of deliberations by the jury, is a partial victory for Oracle Corp. [Nasdaq: ORCL] in its lawsuit against Google [Nasdaq: GOOG]. But Oracle will have to wait longer, possibly for a retrial, to see whether Google will escape liability by claiming fair use.

Google’s attorney, Robert Van Nest, immediately told the judge that Google would file for a mistrial. Google’s argument will be that the same jury must decide both the copyright infringement and fair use issues.

The jury also decided that Sun’s public statements about Java might have suggested to Google that it did not need a license for Java.

But in another setback for Google, it decided there was insufficient evidence to show that Google relied on that information.

That means the jury wasn’t swayed by a much-discussed blog post from then-Sun Microsystems Inc. CEO Jonathan Schwartz in which he congratulated Google on its release of Android, and said that it would be good for Java.

Google did prevail on some other issues in the case, including the finding that Google did not violate the copyright for Oracle’s Java API documentation.

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