Another Oracle patent at the centre of the dispute, patent number 6,125,447, has been ruled invalid by the US Patent Office and Trademark Office.
The USPTO based its decision on the fact that another patent had been used in 1994 which was three years before Sun filed its Java patent application.
The US patent office also considered two publications released in 1996 as evidence that Sun’s described method for protecting applications via “protection domains” was anticipated by “prior art.”
It is not the end of the case by any means. Oracle has taken Google to court over seven alleged Java patent infringements in the Android mobile operating system. The USPTO’s latest decision has temporarily invalidated five of them fully or in part.
Oracle can still comment on the decision and can appeal against the patent invalidation.
However H Open quotes Attorney Scott Daniels, who specialises in examining US patents as saying that it could mean that the case is delayed.
The USPTO’s decision may cause the lawsuit against Google to be postponed until all patents have been fully examined. It is unlikely that the court will be happy with this.Judge William Alsup has told Ellison’s briefs to cut back their case because he wanted the matter to proceed by the end of the year.
Any delay will be bad news for Android too as it hangs over the future of the operating system. Some manufacturers might not be keen to install the operating system if they know that they are going to get hit by a patent bill from Oracle sometime in the future.