Oracle loses bid to assert third patent in Google trial

The U.S. patent office issued a ruling in Oracle's favor, but too late for it to make any difference, a judge has ruled

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.

The patent describes a "method and apparatus for pre-processing and packaging class files."

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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James Niccolai

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