SAN FRANCISCO—A jury of ten men and women has been selected for the second Oracle v.
Google copyright trial, and opening statements will be heard here tomorrow morning.
The trial is expected to last about a month.
If Oracle wins, damages could be in the billions.
The jury includes an employment coordinator, a lawyer who works for local government, a former aerospace CFO, an HR professional, an electrician, a retiree, a homemaker, and a product manager for a local power company. The panel was selected after a few hours of questioning.
After running down a list of basic information like names, city of residence, education, and marital and family information, lawyers for each side were allowed to dive into specifics.
Most of the jurors were unaware of the case.
All the jurors had used Google products, but they said their feelings about those products weren’t strong enough to influence their decision-making. Several of them use phones running on Android.
The upcoming trial is the second time Oracle has faced off in court with Google over copyrights and the Android mobile operating system. Oracle sued in 2010, saying that by using declaring code in 37 Java APIs, Google broke copyright law.
After an initial trial that concluded in 2012, US District Judge William Alsup ruled that APIs can’t be copyrighted at all. However, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overruled him. Now a second trial is beginning, and Google’s only defense against a copyright infringement claim is a “fair use” argument.
Narrowing the pool
Only one potential juror had direct experience with computers, a networking manager at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory who holds a computer science degree from UC Berkeley. He’d made small donations to EFF over the years but wasn’t so familiar with the group that he knew the acronym stands for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He was the only juror familiar with the term “fair use,” which had come up in a university-wide e-mail.
Both sides were given three chances to strike jurors, and the networking manager was Oracle’s first strike.
Google struck out a juror who said he objected to the idea of free software. A few jurors were dismissed because they or a close relative owned stock in one of the companies. One woman was dismissed because her husband was trying to sell a patent, and Oracle and Google were prospective buyers.
Several people were dismissed because they had hardships, scheduling conflicts, or didn’t believe they could be impartial. A potential juror who was a college student said he didn’t think he could resist the temptation to do Internet searches for information about the case.
“There is propaganda out there about this on the Internet, both ways,” said Alsup, before dismissing the student. “Half of them don’t know what they’re talking about.
If you were to look it up, it would be a travesty of justice.”
Another potential juror was dismissed because he gave a pamphlet from his church to another person in the hall during a break. Warned by the judge that he wouldn’t be able to proselytize during the trial, the juror responded that he wasn’t able to abide by that.
“I serve a higher authority,” said the man. “There’s a judge that is higher than you.”
“That may be, but so far he hasn’t communicated with me,” said Alsup. The juror was dismissed.
Listing image by Scott Jones