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Federal Court returns patent lost in Google vs. Oracle case

During the Google vs. Oracle court case, a lower court ruled to invalidate an Oracle patent. Now, a federal court has given Oracle the patent back.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit unanimously agreed on March 20 to resurrect patent US 6910205 B2, one of the five patents Oracle used to sue Google in a legal battle stretching back to August 2010. In the Google vs. Oracle lawsuit, Oracle claimed that Google had violated Oracle's intellectual property surrounding the use of Java on Google's Android phone. Whatever the next step is for Oracle and Google's legal battle, this is one more piece of potential ammunition for Oracle's side.

This is part of the larger Google vs. Oracle lawsuit that has been ongoing since 2010. Oracle originally sued over Google's use of Java APIs in the Android phone. Oracle contends that the Java APIs are Oracle intellectual property. As of May 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that Oracle could claim APIs as intellectual property. However, more was happening than the noticeable battle over Java APIs.

As part of the 2010 Google vs. Oracle intellectual property case, the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board invalidated Oracle's patent on speeding up source code execution on virtual machines. However, the recent ruling concluded that the patent board should not have thrown out all of Oracle's patent claims.

The original reason for invalidating the patent hinged on the definition of the word "overwriting." The Patent Trial and Appeal Board defined it as "replacing some information in a computer file with new information," as opposed to writing over the existing code. This had already been written about in 1993 in a computer science article, which would make the patent invalid.

Judge Kathleen O'Malley of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit decided that the definition was too broad. The definition of overwriting in Oracle's claims, according to O'Malley, was replacing information "in a particular memory location with new information in that location." This version of the definition was not covered in the 1993 article.

Next Steps

Find out more about Oracle's most recent lawsuits, including Google vs. Oracle

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