Judge Considers Stay in Oracle vs. Google Patent Suit

Judge William Alsup is considering a partial, if not complete, stay in Oracle’s patent lawsuit against Google while the U.S. Patent & Trademark (USPTO) reviews all seven of Oracle’s patents. Oracle’s lawsuit alleges that Google’s Android platform infringes on seven Java-related patents owned by the database giant, patents acquired when Oracle bought Sun Microsystems and its Java platform in 2009.

Oracle has been seeking licensing royalties for every Android device sold, something that would turn Android from a “free” open source OS to a “not-free” open source OS, which would benefit Apple, Microsoft, RIM, and any other competitor in the smartphone business. Any form of stay in the case would put Oracle’s case in serious jeopardy.

Google vs. Oracle

FOSS Patents reported on the judge’s ruling, where he wrote, “At least one day before the hearing, please file a five-page joint summary of the status of the [USPTO] re-examination and update the parties’ respective views on the extent to which this action should be stayed pending completion of the re-examination. Time will be short at the hearing due to the ongoing criminal trial.”

That’s legalese for, “Yo, I’m gonna bust a stay up in [here],” and the basis for it is the USPTO’s re-examination of Oracle’s patents. The problem for Oracle there is that the multistage process of that reexamination has already begun, with First Office actions (read FOSS’s coverage for more information) having been issued on five of the seven patents.

Of those five, this preliminary step currently points to Oracle losing three of those patents, while the fourth is likely to be weakened. The fifth is standing up to review so far. First Office actions are still pending on the other two patents in the case.

As suggested, however, First Office actions are just that, “first,” and are subject to further review and possible appeal, which means time, more time, and some bonus time thrown in for good measure.

All of which means that nothing is decided, but momentum in the case is decidedly not in Oracle’s favor, which would be a very good thing for Google and the Android platform.

For those keeping score at home, Judge William Alsup is the same judge that presided over Apple’s copyright infringement lawsuit against would-be Mac cloner Psystar. In that case, Judge Allsup handed Apple a complete victory over Psystar.