Oracle's lawsuit against Google over alleged Java patent violations in the Android OS is facing a potential setback, following a ruling by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
Google had previously asked the USPTO to re-examine a number of Oracle's patents. The USPTO has rejected 17 of the 21 claims in U.S. Patent No. 6,192,476, according to a ruling dated June 16. The tech law blog Groklaw first reported the ruling on Wednesday.
The judge in the case has asked both sides to streamline the number of claims they are making, in order to make the case easier to try. A trial date has been set for Oct. 31.
"If this reexamination is exemplary of what Oracle can expect in each of the other reexaminations, Oracle will have a hard time finding claims that it can successfully assert against Google, and there lies Oracle's conundrum," Groklaw wrote. "Oracle either has to agree with the court's directive to limit the number of claims it will assert at trial, or it is likely the court will simply stay the trial until the reexaminations are complete."
However, Oracle has multiple opportunities to appeal any decisions made in a patent reexamination, meaning the Jun. 16 ruling may not be final.
An Oracle spokeswoman declined comment.
Oracle sued Google last year over the alleged Java violations in Android. Google has denied any wrongdoing.
An Oracle damages expert has estimated that if Google is determined to have infringed on Oracle's patents, it would owe Oracle up to US$6.1 billion, according to a recent court filing. Google has challenged the methodology Oracle's expert used.
Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com