Oracle v. Google: What's at stake

Oracle v. Google: What's at stake

Summary: Oracle and Google are finally going to trial after two years of litigation, but what's really at stake here for these two Silicon Valley giants?

TOPICS: Oracle, Google

Oracle's patent infringement and copyright lawsuit against Google is finally set to go to trial at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco today, but there are certainly plenty of questions looming as to where this will end up.

The fact that these two Silicon Valley giants will finally have a trial underway is fairly incredible (and slightly unbelievable) given how much back-and-forth there has been over the last two years since Oracle initially filed suit in August 2010.

Since then, there have been numerous delays with potential start dates assigned for October 2011, January 2012, and March 2012. It was only just last month that April 16 was given the green light. That date was solidified once the last-ditch effort for another round of settlement talks fell through.

One of the biggest hurdles for getting this trial underway is that these two companies just can't even seem to agree upon on what they're fighting over.

Yes, it's clear that Oracle is suing Google over patent violations involving Android and Java -- patents that used to be owned by Sun Microsystems but now belong to Oracle. Google reasserts time and again that Sun was a big supporter of Android, and that the programming language was free to use.

To clarify matters before going into trial, Judge William H. Alsup issued an order on April 6 asking each side to "take a firm yes or no position on whether computer programming languages are copyrightable."

But Oracle has also repeatedly failed to pinpoint and narrow down which patents being violated. Furthermore, it hasn't helped that settlement talks have continuously stalled proceedings. Even dragging in Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Google CEO Larry Page didn't do any good.

The big debate going into the trial is what is at stake here for Oracle and Google. Even more to the point: How much money is Oracle going to win, and will it get a cut of Android revenue going forward?

It's all but said and done that Oracle is going to have some kind of pay day. During a court hearing last July, Judge Alsup admitted that Google is definitely going to pay up "probably in the millions, maybe in the billions" at some point.

Last September, Oracle wanted at least $1.16 billion in damages from Google, which is considerably less than the $6.1 billion it was asking for in July. Yet some followers of the case have said that Oracle would be lucky to extract even $100 million in this intellectual property suit.

Likely accepting that some sort of defeat is inevitable, Google did put one offer on the table a few weeks ago. Google offered to pay Oracle up to $2.8 million in damages over two patents in question. Furthermore, Google also offered a deal of 0.5 percent from Android revenue for one patent through December 2012 and 0.015 percent on a second patent through April 2018.

However, that bargain would only be offered as a stipulation for damages if (and only if) Oracle prevails on patent infringement. Oracle rebuffed the deal anyway.

Whatever Oracle ends up with (or not), we should know relatively soon as the trial is only expected to last eight weeks -- an incredibly short time when you put all of these other proceedings into perspective.

Related coverage of the Oracle v. Google legal battle:

Topics: Oracle, Google

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Groklaw is following the trial closely.

    Just in case anyone here is interested in what is really going on.
    • No bias there. LOL

      Try some fresh air, and read some of www.fosspatents. Then you can get a real picture of what is going on.
      • Groklaw has proved itself far more accurate over time.

        Just because a site is called "fosspatents" doesn't mean that the person running it understands either patents or FOSS.

        Groklaw has its own opinion, but it also publishes Court documents and transcripts that [i]no-one[/i] has been able to fault. So there's nothing stopping anyone making up his/her own mind.
      • Mueller said BILLIONS!!!

        Groklaw isn't perfect, but compared to Mueller's anti-android FOSS Patents is it is far more accurate. Mueller has an anti-android agenda and has made many inaccurate projections. Groklaw doesn't make inaccurate projects because they don't *make* projections, just report on things.

        Android has issues, no doubt, but Oracle will not be getting billions like Mueller was so happy to pump up over and over again until Google started knocking out the patents. If Boies/Schiller can't get API's as copyrighted material for protection Oracle won't get enough money to pay their lawyers and will take a loss in their attempt to harass Android.
      • Zogg, Groklaw USED to be accurate

        ... until PJ left and gave the site to lawyers.

        Groklaw today is nothing more than legalese propaganda for the new owners. They no longer post facts, only the information they want you to read.

        While PJ would post EVERYTHING (including court documents along with a good neutral analysis of the information) the new editors don't post documentation and only write one of two lines (in legalize talk). They never talk about facts, only BS about what they think is happening.
      • Please point out where Groklaw has not been accurate.

        [quote]... until PJ left and gave the site to lawyers.[/quote]
        Unlike you, I still visit Groklaw regularly. So first, I will [b]repeat[/b] that PJ [i]hasn't[/i] left. She has handed the reins to Mark Webbink, but she still writes articles on topics that she believes to be important.

        [quote]While PJ would post EVERYTHING (including court documents along with a good neutral analysis of the information) the new editors don't post documentation and only write one of two lines (in legalize talk).[/quote]
        So if I can provide links to Court documents that Mark Webbink has posted then that would prove you [b]wrong[/b], wouldn't it.

        [b]Try this[/b][quote]Oracle v. Google - Day 1 Filings[/quote]
        This article links all of the day's Court orders in PDF format, starting at [b]922[/b]. (Gee, I wonder what the previous 921 documents are...?!)
    • groklaw is the only source that can be trusted

      the rest are just $hills paid by Oracle, M$ and apple.
      The Linux Geek
    • Yep

      Bias is irrelevant. Groklaw proved beyond anyone's doubts that it had the attention span for detail needed to cover tech legal matters, even though Pam and Mark definitely wear their opinions on their sleeves.

      if you want to know how things are shaking out, you'd be crazy not to follow Groklaw. You can bet most lawyers doing tech litigation already are.
      • Gone downhill since PJ left

        Its gone downhill since PJ left and some of it now reads like fanboi propaganda
      • Except that PJ hasn't left.

        PJ still writes for Groklaw, she just isn't the chief contributor any more. But I'm sure you'll be pleased to learn that PJ has written several articles about the "Oracle vs Google" case recently. For example:

        "Today's the Day: Day 1 of the Oracle v. Google Trial in San Francisco ~pj"
      • The new "pj" is not the old "PJ"

        You can simply see the difference in the style of the writing.

        While the new "pj" writes everything in legalese, the old PJ always wrote her articles in "human" and explained everything in detail.
      • PJ is PJ - stop lying.

        I take it you haven't visited Groklaw recently. These are 5 out of the 6 current "headline" articles:

        [quote]"Today's the Day: Day 1 of the Oracle v. Google Trial in San Francisco ~pj - Updated 7Xs: 1st word to last word"
        "Oracle to the Court: Could We Add a Pile of New Exhibits at the Very Last Moment, Please? ~pj"
        "Oracle and Google Debate: Can You Copyright Computer Languages, APIs ~ pj"
        "Apple Can Defend Its Apps Developers: Motion to Intervene Granted in Part ~pj"
        "Judge Grants 2 Out of 3 Issues in Google's Motion to Deem Facts Undisputed at Trial ~pj"[/quote]
        The "~pj" at the end denotes that the article was written by [b][i]Pamela Jones[/i][/b], and not Mark Webbink. I suggest you [b][u]read[/u][/b] them before you decide to cast aspersions.
    • Google should be very concerned..............

      There's a little known case from Model Railroad Trains that may have an impact on the Oracle v Google litigation: The Court of appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC 2008-1001 Jacobsen v Katzer). Basically Google has already admitted not having a license (copyright) from Oracle via the ???email???. According to CAFC 2008-1001, up to $250K per occurrence and disgorge of profits is the penalty for "breach of license" that can be imposed by the courts along with Oracle being in position to demand an "injunction" be placed upon Google to prevent shipment of all Androids. (Google does not have a license from Oracle.). This ruling also impacts on all "derivative works". Since this CAFC 2008-1001 has already established a precedent for copyright violation, Google is in a very awkward position. This should be very interesting to follow over the next few weeks.
      • Don't forget - The RIM (BlackBerry) case set the OPPOSITE precedent

        Since you are quoting precedents, please don't forget that the BlackBerry RIM patent infringement case set the 'exact opposite' precedent, whereby RIM was allowed to 'skate' due to the huge public/economic impact it would have if they were 'bullied' into having to stop production, pay exorbitant license fees, etc. - And, I'm sure the court took into consideration in RIM (and will take into consideration in Oracle v. Google) whether or not there was malicious intent to "steal" something - and, really, there wasn't. Google wanted to develop a friendly, useful and affordable market with Android. There is enough tangential evidence to show that they did not willfully go out and say, "Hey, let's steal someone else's patented material."

        And, in truth, any large and sweeping ruling AGAINST Google will impact the economy, which is another thing the court is likely to consider. I think that, if Oracle wins this, there will be MAJOR ILL WILL AGAINST ORACLE - and, who knows, likely boycotts and abandoning of Oracle products - such that JRE and related products will start being "pay-per-license" items.

        I smell a really bad "APPLE" in the mix here, becaue Apple clearly wants to kill Android. So, apparently Apple and Oracle are colluding to put the proverbial nail in the Android coffin. I repeat, this will be bad for Oracle; and just as bad for Apple.

        Just my opinion - not worth much in the grand scheme of things, but I did like the book and movie "Pelican Brief."
      • Google's point is that Dalvik is not Java.

        Dalvik may use the Java language, but Dalvik does not compile into Java byte-code and hence "is not Java" in that sense that it doesn't run inside a JVM. And since Dalvik isn't Java then it does not require a license from Oracle.

        Oracle must argue that it owns the Java language itself along with all of its APIs so that all implementations require a license - even independent ones like Google's. And that's going to be a steep hill to climb.
      • It's about copyrights...............

        In the US, the law changed in Aug 2008 on copyright. The new law base for copyright is a breach of license. This was set at the CAFC, the court 1 step below the Supreme Court in the US. Basically, what Oracle needs to show is that Google does not have a license. With Paige admitting that they do not have a licenses, all that is needed at this point is Oracle to show that Google breached Oracle license.

        The standard is very low. In this very simple example, If you have a license agreement that says ???paint your home blue??? and you do not ???paint your home blue???, then you have breached the license. In the Google case, it is about attribution and theft of intellectual property.

        Under the old law (prior to Aug 2008), copyrights had to have value. The new law does not require a copyright to have value.

        The game plan appears to be an Injunction. Oracle wants an injunction. Google generates $10M a day from activations. If you look at the income generated a year, It is $3B ??? $6B of profits. Without access to Java, this would be $0
    • Is Groklaw following the Oracle v Google trial closely?

      The answer is yes.

      However, Groklaw's coverage is quite biased on Google's side.

      Best regards,

      Kenneth R. Saborio
      • Re; Groklaw's coverage is quite biased on Google's side.

        That does not stop them from being accurate.
        They do have a very good track record in that respect.
    • Linux

      Like this:

      Google: Apache makes some or all of the Java class librariess available?

      Andy Rubin: Yes.

      Google: Explain why you believe that APIs are not copyrightable.

      Oracle: Objection.

      Google: They opened the door.

      Judge: This is mostly a legal question. Argument needs to be in the final arguments. Sustained. It's not worth a candle.

      You really side with that perspective? Like the Judge asked, it's a yes or no question. Replace Java with Linux...

      By the way, did Google respect the Linux GPL?
  • Should be fun

    I always enjoy watching 2 parties with more money than sense arguing in public like children.

    I think Oracle will win but with a small amount of damages, however this won't be the end as they will then use the judgement to leverage each handset maker in turn