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U.S. takes bite out of Oracle's Google lawsuit

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office says several of the claims in one patent Oracle has brought against Google shouldn't have been accepted.

Oracle has been dealt a blow in its ongoing patent infringement case against Google.

Late last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected several of the claims in a patent that Oracle has cited in its infringement case against the search giant. According to Groklaw, which obtained the notice, 17 of the 21 claims in Patent No. 6,192,476 have been rejected by the USPTO, following a re-examination the agency conducted earlier this year.

The patent, called "Controlling access to a resource," describes how a so-called "principal" calls for access on a software platform.

Oracle sued Google last year, alleging that the search giant's Android operating system violates several patents it holds related to Java. Earlier this year, there was some speculation that the companies would try to settle the case, but after failing to come to terms, they seemingly decided to battle it out in court instead. The trial was expected to start in October, but has been delayed until next year.

Google requested the USPTO re-examine the patents included in its case against Oracle. The move, which is common in patent infringement cases, was designed to see whether the patents shouldn't have been issued in the first place. Now that many of the claims in the '476 patent have been rejected, Oracle has six months to appeal the USPTO's decision. If it doesn't do so, the company will likely be stripped of the patent.

But that doesn't mean that the end is near for either side. As noted, several patents are included in Oracle's case against Google. What's more, there have been cases in the past in which the USPTO's determination has been overturned, and did not damage a company's case.

Even so, the decision by the USPTO might help bolster an argument that Google has been making for months--namely, that the many companies that are targeting its Android platform are doing so with "bogus" patents.

"Android's success has yielded...a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, and other companies, waged through bogus patents," Google's chief legal officer David Drummond wrote in a blog post earlier this year. "Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it."

Neither Google nor Oracle immediately responded to CNET's request for comment.

(Via All Things Digital)