Oracle, Google lawyers spar over jury instructions

Even as we await a verdict on copyrights, Oracle and Google's lawyers are still arguing about what to tell the jury.

Eric Schmidt leaves courthouse in San Francisco after testifying in Oracle v. Google last week. Josh Miller/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO -- The jury in the Oracle-Google case continues to deliberate at the U.S. District Court over the first phase of the trial concerning copyright infringement.

The jury began deliberating on Monday afternoon after lawyers from both Oracle and Google offered their closing statements for the first segment of this trial.

As is customary in complex cases, the jury returned a few questions to Judge William Alsup, who read them in the courtroom for both legal teams and the public on Tuesday morning. But also customary was that there were disagreements from both sides on how to respond to the jurors' questions.

Essentially, one juror wanted clarification concerning Google's use of Java APIs from Apache Harmony .

After Oracle counsel Michael Jacobs and Google attorney Robert Van Nest sparred back and forth in front of the judge, and were splitting hairs over the wording for more than 20 minutes, Judge Alsup settled on the following response for the jury members, who were briefly brought back out in the courtroom from the deliberation room:

Google makes no contention it had a license expressed or otherwise to use the structure, sequence, and organization of the 37 packages of the copyrighted work. This issue would be for the judge to decide in any event -- as would be any question of dedication to the public domain.

You main not presume that there was any such public dedication, as this would be an issue for the judge to decide. However, you may consider the evidence you have referenced in the question of whatever value you think it has on the issues that are for you to decide. Beyond this, the questions you have asked are already adequately covered by my instructions.

After the jury was sent back into deliberation, Van Nest questioned Judge Alsup about three witnesses that Oracle planned to call back during the next phase of the trial, which will focus on patent infringement.

Those three witnesses are Google engineers Dan Morrill, Dan Bornstein, and Tim Lindholm.

Lindholm's potential recall stirred up the most debate for Van Nest, but Jacobs replied that Lindholm is a witness with some knowledge about at least one of the two patents in question in this lawsuit.

Judge Alsup conceded to Jacobs' request, but he warned Jacobs to lay off the e-mails that were so prevalent during the first phase of the trial.

"You've beaten that to death," Judge Alsup added, followed by a response of light laughter in the courtroom.

After already testifying on April 25, Android engineer Bornstein's recall was also some cause for concern for Google, but in a much different way. Oracle didn't place Bornstein on recall and told him that he was free to go, but now its lawyers might call him back. However, Bornstein has a vacation planned soon.

While he asked both sides of the courtroom to find some way to work around this, Judge Alsup did say that he would enforce a subpoena, if Bornstein is called to the stand again.

Although we could theoretically make it to the end of the week without a verdict, Judge Alsup warned that the next phase of the trial could start any time -- even right after the verdict is read -- as he wants to move things along immediately.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Oracle, Google attorneys have spat over jury instructions."

 

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