Oracle, Google trial set for April start

Oracle’s intellectual-property lawsuit against Google over the Android mobile OS will go to trial on April 16, according to a judge’s order filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Jury selection will begin on that day for the trial, which will be conducted in three phases, Judge William Alsup said in his order. The trial should take approximately eight weeks, Alsup added.

Oracle sued Google in August 2010, alleging that Android was in violation of intellectual property Oracle holds on Java, the open-source programming language. Google has denied wrongdoing, saying that Android is a “clean room” implementation of Java that doesn’t violate Oracle’s rights.

Google had asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to re-examine Oracle’s patents, a tactic that paid off. Oracle withdrew a number of its patent claims after receiving some adverse rulings from the USPTO. Now only two patents remain in contention, along with a number of Java copyrights.

One open question remains around the scope of potential damages in the case. Also on Tuesday, Alsup issued a ruling that rejected some aspects of an expert’s third damages report submitted by Oracle, but allowed others.

“Since a court-appointed independent damages expert will present his views to the jury, it’s quite possible that whatever positions the parties’ own experts take will bear only limited weight,” patent expert and blogger Florian Mueller said in a blog post Tuesday. “The court-appointed expert will probably be perceived as a highly credible source, but a very persuasive expert hired by one of the parties can still influence the jury’s thinking.”

The court’s expert, Brigham Young University economics professor James Kearl, will provide his damages report to Oracle and Google on Wednesday, Alsup wrote in another filing.

Both sides will have until March 23 to depose Kearl, Alsup added.

The companies may also file motions challenging Kearl’s analysis no later than March 30, with oppositions to those motions allowed until April 5, Alsup wrote.

It’s not clear whether the case’s complexity will impact the ability of either Oracle or Google to argue an effective case.

Experts have said that both sides should be sure to plumb the depths of what human drama exists in the dispute, lest they lose the jury’s attention amid a wash of technical details.

Another order filed Tuesday by Alsup is aimed at mitigating the latter problem.

“Counsel are strongly encouraged to co-produce a thirty-minute tutorial animation with voice and sound to educate the jury (and the Court) on the basics of Java and APIs,” he wrote. “Also, please develop a glossary of the top forty terms that can be handed out to jurors as well as a stipulated timeline of key dates, also to be handed out to jurors.”

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