Recent updates on intellectual property, trademark, copyright issues
The U.S. patent office issued a patent ruling in Oracle's favor, but too late for it to make any difference in the trial with Google, a judge rules
Oracle has lost its bid to assert a third patent in its trial against Google, with a favorable decision from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office coming "a few days too late," a judge ruled on Wednesday.
Oracle's original lawsuit accused Google of infringing seven Java-related patents in its Android OS, as well as Java copyrights. Google asked the patent office to reexamine all seven of the patents, and it managed to get five of them invalidated before the trial started.
The U.S. patent office sometimes grants patents that should not have been awarded, because the inventions were too obvious or not original enough, for example. Parties in legal disputes often ask for patents to be reexamined in the hope of getting them overturned.
Oracle appealed the patent office decisions that went against it, but to keep the case moving along it agreed to drop any patents from its suit that were not decided upon before the trial started on April 16. The patent office ruled in Oracle's favor on its patent, number 5,966,702, a few days later.
The trial is being held in three parts, to determine the copyright claims, the patent claims and any damages that Oracle will be awarded. Oracle argued that since the patent phase of the trial has not yet started, it should be able to include the '702 patent at trial.
Judge William Alsup, who is hearing the case, disagreed.
"Oracle's argument that the patent 'trial' has not yet started is wrong. There was and is one trial with three phases. The trial started on April 16," Alsup wrote in his ruling.
Oracle agreed to dismiss the patent "with prejudice," which means it can't assert it against Google at a later date, even in a new trial.
Oracle and Google are set to face each other in court in San Francisco on Monday.
The dispute hinges on Oracle's allegations that Google's widely used Android software for mobile devices infringes on copyrights and patents that Oracle acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems Inc. for $7.3 billion in 2010. The technology in question is Java, a programming language that has been around since the 1990s.
Oracle Corp., a business software maker with $36 billion in annual revenue, is seeking hundreds of millions in damages.
Google Inc., which relies on its dominance of Internet search and advertising for most of its $38 billion in annual revenue, believes it won't have to pay more than a few million dollars.
The jury trial before U.S. District Judge William Alsup has been separated into three different phases covering copyright claims, patent claims and damages. The final phase won't be necessary if Google prevails in its defense against the allegations of copyright and patent infringement.
Each phase is supposed to last two weeks, although Alsup has allotted eight weeks for the entire trial in case there are unexpected delays or other twists. The first phase covering copyrights is likely to be the most important. Oracle is seeking several hundred million dollars in damages for the alleged copyright infringement on some of Java's programming features.
Google CEO Larry Page and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, a pair of multibillionaires whose innovations have reshaped the world, are each expected to testify during the opening phase.
Jury selection begins Monday. Alsup has told the parties that opening statements and possibly the first witness could come Monday as well.
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Registering Business or Domain Names Are Not The Same
A common misconception among many small business owners is that their business is protected as long as their business name and/or domain name are registered. That is not necessarily the case. A domain name is simply an Internet address and carries with it limited and sometimes no defensible rights when it comes to infringement on a company's name or brands. Similarly, registering your company name with the Department of State gives you no rights other than to prevent someone from registering the same name. However, a similar name can be registered along with a domain name which may be like your own. Without a proper trademark neither is safe from unscrupulous business people.
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