After several delays, a trial for Oracle's intellectual property suit against Google has been set to start on April 16th. California judge William Alsup issued an order yesterday setting the trial date and stating that he expected the case to last about eight weeks. This suit will determine whether the Java-based code on Google's Android platform violates patents and copyrights owned by Oracle, particularly a method for conserving memory and a way to handle references when compiling code. If Oracle wins the case, it's possible it will be able to pressure Google into bringing Android in line with the official Java platform, something it has claimed is its ultimate goal in this lawsuit.
Although this pushes back the trial a little (it was previously set to start on or after March 19th), the date is still a win for Oracle, which has consistently asked for earlier trial dates than Google. In order to simplify the trial, Oracle has offered to withdraw three patents from the case, potentially narrowing its scope to two patents and any infringing copyrights. However, Alsup has thrown out some methods that Oracle had proposed for measuring damages, including a calculation based on Android's hypothetical market share with and without the patented features. That means Oracle's likely to be getting less than it originally asked for if it wins the suit.
With the court date approaching, it's possible that the parties will settle, especially if Oracle decides that the scope of any court order against Google is too narrow to affect its use of Android. Mid-April is a bit closer than the previous dates (which have been set at least a couple of months after their trial orders), so we'll be watching to see if the suit actually ends up going to court this time.
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