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Oracle v. Google - A judge grounded in the real world
Thursday, May 26 2011 @ 09:25 AM EDT

In response to the disagreements between Oracle and Google on how best to proceed (number of claims Oracle should be permitted to assert at trial and whether a stay should be issued pending reexamination of the asserted patents; See, Oracle v. Google - Sweating the details) the judge has decided [PDF] to hold both issues open until the pre-trial conference, the trial presently being set for October 2011. Basically, the judge is saying: "You don't deserve any more time for this trial than any other plaintiff, and my court is awfully busy. If you insist on making this a long and difficult trial, then don't expect me to schedule it any time soon or before the reexamination is complete." So this largely throws the issue back to Oracle - either Oracle simplifies the case (and thus shortens the time for trial) by its own accord, or the court will wait for the USPTO to simplify the case through the reexamination process. Google would likely be happy with either approach. Here is the text of the court's response:

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

ORACLE AMERICA, INC., Plaintiff,

v.

GOOGLE INC., Defendant.

No. C 10-03561 WHA

COURT’S RESPONSE TO JOINT CASE

Given the number of civil cases that will be ready for jury trial during the period between the current lengthy criminal RICO-VICAR trial and those to follow (discussed with counsel), the undersigned judge feels obligated to give priority to those civil cases most suited and practical for jury comprehension and decision, all other things being equal. The larger the number of patents and patent claims at trial, the greater will be the burden on the jury’s ability to comprehend and to reach a just and correct verdict. The larger the number of patents and patent claims asserted, moreover, the more practical it will then seem to simply stay this case and see which claims survive PTO re-examination. Although the Court doubts that the number of claims Oracle would ask a jury to learn and to evaluate is “triable,” it is premature to reach a final conclusion and the Court will let Oracle make its final proposal for a three-week trial of all issues at the final pretrial conference (and will consider a stay pending re-examination at that time). In this regard, practicality and fairness to the jury also require weighing the number and variation of invalidity contentions for the claims selected. As counsel should be aware already, the trial days will be 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. with two fifteen-minute recesses (and no lunch break) except that once the jury begins to deliberate, the jury can go as long as it wishes each day. Possibly summary judgment motions will be allowed on the patent issues but counsel should not count on it, much less count on eliminating triable issues of fact.

Therefore, this order simply approves the agreed-on points and leaves for the final pretrial conference whether a workable trial plan can be devised, failing which the trial will either be put over until it is trial-ready and/or a trial stay pending re-examination will be entered.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Dated: May 23, 2011.

WILLIAM ALSUP
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

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