Oracle objects to Android chief as negotiator

Andy Rubin, head of mobile at Google, is not high-powered enough to negotiate a deal to end Oracle's patent lawsuit against the Android backer, a court has heard

Google's Android chief Andy Rubin is not senior enough to negotiate with Oracle co-president Safra Catz in a patent dispute, the software maker has said.

Andy Rubin at Google I/O

Oracle has objected to the appointment of Android boss Andy Rubin (pictured at Google I/O in May) as negotiator in its patent talks with Google. Photo credit: Stephen Shankland/CNET News

The two companies were ordered on Friday to undertake court-mediated talks after failing in private negotiations to find a settlement and end the case. On Wednesday, Oracle told the judge in its patent lawsuit against Google's Android that Rubin is not suitable to go up against its co-president Catz in the discussions.

"Oracle believes the prospects for a successful mediation will be far greater if Google's executive-level representative is a superior to Mr Rubin, who is the architect of Google's Android strategy — the strategy that gives rise to this case," Oracle said in a filing.

The lawsuit, filed by Oracle in August 2010, alleges that Google infringed on the software maker's patents in its use of the Java platform in Android.

After being ordered by Judge William Alsup to select appropriate senior executives, Oracle said it would send Catz and Thomas Kurian, executive vice-president of Oracle product development. For its part, Google said it would send Rubin, its senior vice president of mobile, and Kent Walker, its general counsel.

Oracle's argument

In its own filing, Google said Rubin is an appropriate choice as he is "knowledgeable regarding the issues in this case" and, like Catz, reports directly to the chief executive. However, Oracle dismissed this argument.

"The suggestion in Google's filing today that Mr Rubin and Ms Catz are comparable high-level executives merely because they both report to their respective CEOs ignores important differences in their roles," it said.

Oracle also pointed out that Rubin had been involved in the failed private negotiations, which aimed to save the time and expense of a court case by bringing the two parties to terms.

"In light of the failure of these past attempts at resolution, Oracle believes it vital that both parties assign top corporate executives to the mediation," the software maker said. "Oracle asks that the court direct Google to assign a corporate representative to the mediation effort who meets this standard."

The company's objections suggest the mediated negotiations are unlikely to succeed with Rubin, even though they may be the last chance for a settlement before the case has to go to trial in district court in Northern California.

Mobile patent expert Florian Mueller believes the court will be willing to listen to Oracle's complaint against the Google representatives.

"Those appointments are a clear indication of Google's unwillingness to put down some serious money to settle this dispute, Mueller said in a blog post. "The judge is not going to be amused. Therefore, he will probably tell Google that they have to try again."

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