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PTO Finds Gosling Java Patent Invalid

Oracle’s patent case against Google looks lost

Oracle's vaunted patent infringement case against Google and Android has shrunk to the size of a thong bikini - and like a freshman during spring break, the Patent and Trademark Office is looking forward to another round of strip poker.

Of the five patents Oracle started with after ultimately withdrawing two, the PTO's re-examinations have left it only one.

The latest to fall was Java pappy James Gosling's US patent RE38,104 on a "method and apparatus for resolving data references in generated code."

The PTO says it's invalid although its decision isn't absolutely final yet.


Jeremy Geelan interviews James Gosling at a JavaOne Conference in 2005

Before the PTO's decision, which took an awfully long time, case watcher Florian Mueller was beginning to think Oracle might get a lot of mileage just out of the Gosling patent since it looked pretty fundamental. Now that the PTO has pretty much shot it down he reckons the patent part of Oracle's case is pretty much lost unless - after a long-winded process - the PTO's Board of Appeals for Patent Appeals and Interferences or the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overrules the PTO on some counts.

At this point, Florian says, "There's serious doubt that even one of Oracle's originally asserted claims is both valid and infringed by Android's Dalvik virtual machine."

He already sees Oracle focusing on its copyright claims although "a jury might nevertheless determine that there isn't clear and convincing evidence for the invalidity of some patent claims. But that is increasingly unlikely to happen. A jury will likely see that Oracle's patents-in-suit have a serious validity problem."

Oracle does have scads of other Java patents in its kit bag that it hasn't asserted yet, mostly because the judge wanted a streamlined case, but could assert down the road somewhere. Meanwhile, Google claims API-related source files can't be copyrighted.

See http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2012/02/non-final-invalidation-of-james-gosling.html.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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rdgflex 02/25/12 01:57:00 PM EST

Take off the sunglasses. The funeral is over.

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