Judge William Alsup become Master of the court and Java
Mastery of the courtroom wasn't all that the 67-year-old Alsup brought to the trial. He also demonstrated mastery of the complicated subject matter, more than enough to keep the army of lawyers from both sides and the witnesses on their toes.On many days, the San Francisco courtroom where he presided was more like a computer science classroom. Alsup acknowledged during the trial that he had learned about Java coding to better prepare for the case, and it showed. On a daily basis, he would deftly query the lawyers and expert witnesses on the structure, sequence, and organizations of APIs to assist the jury in understanding the key facets of the copyright phase of the trial.
In one episode, Oracle's star lawyer, David Boies, who bested Bill Gates in U.S. v. Microsoft case and represented Vice President Al Gore in Bush v. Gore in front of the Supreme Court, was arguing that Google copied the nine lines of rangeCheck code to accelerate development to gain faster entry into the mobile phone market.Alsup told Boies, "I have done, and still do, a significant amount of programming in other languages. I've written blocks of code like rangeCheck a hundred times before. I could do it, you could do it. The idea that someone would copy that when they could do it themselves just as fast, it was an accident. There's no way you could say that was speeding them along to the marketplace. You're one of the best lawyers in America --how could you even make that kind of argument?"Oracle plans to appeal Alsup's ruling. The company faces an uphill battle given the judge's ruling is rich in context, with detailed deconstructions of the Java language and APIs, as well as the expected legal citations and examples. It will likely serve as a textbook for future cases involving intellectual property rights and computer programming languages.