Is Judge Throwing in the Towel on Google v. Oracle?

If the jury can’t come to a conclusion on all four questions in the ongoing intellectual property case between Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), the judge will accept a partial verdict. U.S. District Judge William Alsup had earlier said he feared the jury may be deadlocked.

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The trial, which centers on the programming language Java, started on April 16 after Oracle sued Google, claiming the search giant violated its copyrights and patents in building a new version of the platform for Android. Java was developed by Sun Microsystems, which Oracle recently acquired. Google claims the parts of Java it used aren’t covered by copyrights and that its use of the free language was fair and legal.

Judge Alsup said he had a “strong inclination” to accept a partial verdict, despite Google indicating such a scenario would not be acceptable to it. “I’m not going to let this work go to waste,” Alsup said.

After hearing the testimony of Oracle and Google executives, including their chief executive officers for two weeks, and after three days of deliberations, a juror sent a note to Alsup on Thursday to ask what happens if they can’t reach a unanimous decision. Alsup asked them to “start fresh.”

If jurors agree that Google infringed by using the language, but decide that it wasn’t “fair use,” another trial could violate Google’s constitutional rights, the company’s attorneys say. The U.S. Constitution says cases tried by a jury may not be reexamined by another court.

Oracle is seeking $1 billion in damages and a court order stopping Google from distributing Android unless it pays for a license. The trial is expected to last until the first week of June.

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