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Keker & Van Nest Drastically Limits Damages in Copyright Phase of Oracle v. Google Smartphone War

Los Angeles Times

Partial Vedict Seen as Setback for Oracle

A partial jury verdict in its copyright infringement case against Google has handed Oracle a major setback, limiting damages against the search giant.

The jury on Monday found that Google did improperly borrow the structure of Oracle's software code but did not violate Oracle's other copyrights. Oracle, which accused Google of stealing a key piece of its technology to build the popular Android mobile software, sought up to $1 billion in damages on copyright claims in San Francisco federal court.

Although the jury found that Google infringed on the largest of Oracle’s claims, it could not agree on whether Google was legally protected under the fair use doctrine, a key issue in the case. That limits Oracle to statutory damages, which range from $200 to $150,000. And Google will not have to redesign its Android software.

After the jury left the courtroom, Oracle attorney David Boies suggested Oracle was entitled to more than statutory damages and should receive a share of Google’s profits. U.S. District Judge William Alsup said the request bordered "on the ridiculous."

Oracle got control of the programming language when it bought Sun Microsystems in 2010. It has said in the past that it thought Google owed $1 billion in damages and that it would seek an injunction to block the sale of Android devices. Google gives away Android for free to mobile device makers, and it has quickly become the world's most popular smartphone software.

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