As Jon previewed on Monday, today the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held the latest round of oral arguments in the long-running Oracle v. Google case. Readers will recall Oracle appealed after a jury, presided over by Judge Alsup, found Google’s use of Java APIs in Android to be fair use. This appeal, therefore, urges the Federal Circuit to second-guess the jury’s fair use determination.
Oracle’s arguments generally tracked its primary and reply brief, which argue that Google should not have been able to prevail on a fair use defense as a matter of law, calling for a new trial. Similarly, Google’s arguments followed from its opposition brief, which argued that the jury’s interpretation of the fair use defense was reasonable.
Oral argument focused considerably on the fact that the jury’s verdict which Oracle seeks to overturn was “a black box.” In a fateful decision, Oracle and Google agreed to present the jury with a verdict form that simply asked it to assess liability, rather than, for example, a specialized breakdown of the various elements of the fair use decision. Thus, the jury’s decision can only be evaluated in its entirety. As Judge Plager commented to Oracle’s counsel, “we can fantasize about what the jury did as well as you can.”