The last week saw as set back of sorts for Oracle, as the US patent analysts rejected 17 claims of the 21 infringements claimed by Oracle on one of the seven infringement claims it had filed against Google. However, there are further 122 claims to wade through.
Why the set back on US Patent 6.912.476
The basis for rejecting the claim was that, these 17 were already established or known techniques. The patent in question is the US Patent 6192476 called ‘Controlling Access To A Resource’. It involves mechanisms to regulate Java program codes accessing hardware, services and interfaces. However, The United States Patent and Trademark Office-USPTO finds that many of the patents mentioned are already covered by prior art.
To prove its point, the USPTO has submitted a patent that is five years older than Oracle’s date of filing. It is called ‘The Multics System’ and written by Elliot I.Organick.
Claims not rejected
The USPTO upheld claim number 8, 9, 17 and 18 as these revolve around code for setting of flags in current call stack, to indicate privilege level of a routine executed earlier.
The story so far…
In August of 2010, Oracle made news with a brief statement, “In developing Android, Google knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property. Oracle says that Android infringes the US patents which were originally granted to Sun-6,125,447, 6,192,476, 5,966,702, 7,426,720, RE38,104, 6,910,205 and 6,061,520.”
The copyright of infringement involves copying of code by Google, allowing others to copy as well as infringing Java platforms code, specifications and documentation. Patent infringements include virtual machines, tools, compilers.
Sun Microsystems was acquired by Oracle in April 2010 after confirming taking over in 2009. Sun Microsystems Java was open sourced as Open JDK with a GPL2 licence and allowing limited use for desktop, server implementations but retained the licensing rights with respect to mobile devices. Their lawsuit now concerns Android OS –gingerbread, Froyo etc.
A total of 168 claims covering 7 patents were filed. Groklaw, Find documented patent claims here, elaborately maintains records of the lawsuit and notes that over 46 of these claims are rejected, while 4 are pending re-examination. The next hearing is slated for October 2011, and the judge for the lawsuit has asked Oracle to lower the number of claims.
What next-in the lawsuit?
Google has always asked to delay the hearing, until the re-examination is completed in detail by USPTO. Besides, the judges’ request for lowering number of claims has to be taken seriously by Oracle, as given the exemplary quality of re-examination happening, Oracle may soon not have many serious claims pending. Hence, Oracle has to either agree with whatever directive the court offers. The other alternative is that the court may stop proceedings until the entire re-examination is completed.
Oracle is apparently on a double-edged sword now, for, down-sizing the list may find that all of its claims are negated by UPSTO. If the re-examination were to run its entire course, Oracle would have already lost its battle perhaps.