Oracle's Google Android patent lawsuit cut down to size

Oracle's Google Android patent lawsuit cut down to size

Summary: Instead of billions, Oracle will be lucky to get above $100-million in its Java patent lawsuit against Google Android.

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There will be no laser-equipped shark guards for Oracle CEO's mega-yacht from its Google Android lawsuit.

There will be no laser-equipped shark guards for Oracle CEO's mega-yacht from Oracle's Google Android lawsuit.

Instead of extracting billions from Google for violating its Java software patents in Android, Oracle will be lucky to get over a $100-million from its intellectual property (IP) lawsuit. That's chump change by mega-company standards. Taking into consideration the legal costs, Oracle could have made more money if it had just offered Google an open-ended Java license in the first place. Larry Ellison, Oracle's God-King and CEO, will have to wait another year before buying the sharks with lasers on their heads to guard his mega-yacht.

Back in 2010, Oracle sued Google for Java copyright and patent violations. At the time, Oracle's Java lawsuit was a shocking move. Oracle, a founding members of the Linux Foundation, was suing a company over Android, which is a mobile Linux distribution. As Stephen O'Grady, one of the founders of Red Monk, the developer-oriented analysis firm, said at the time, "This is simply a case of Oracle being less concerned than Sun about being perceived as a bad actor. It is interesting, however, that Oracle appears to be willing to trade short-term transactional gains for long-term ecosystem health."

Still, the Sun insiders who were still on board as Oracle took over the company saw this coming. As James Gosling, Java's creator, said at the time, "Oracle finally filed a patent lawsuit against Google. Not a big surprise. During the integration meetings between Sun and Oracle where we were being grilled about the patent situation between Sun and Google, we could see the Oracle lawyer's eyes sparkle. Filing patent suits was never in Sun's genetic code." Suing companies, however, is in Oracle's genes.

Oracle is probably regretting that now. Oracle's case quickly started to go wrong. Google asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to re-examine Oracle's patents and Oracle withdrew most of its patent claims after receiving the PTO make it clear that the patents weren't going to stand up. Today, only two patents remain on the docket.

Worse still, Oracle's own expert, Boston University professor Iain Cockburn estimate of damages, if Google were found guilty, has been constantly dropping. Cockburn started by claiming that Google would owe Oracle $6.1-billion. Now, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Judge William Alsup, has chipped his estimates down to size.

Today, Google using Cockburn's latest numbers estimates that, at most if they were found guilty on all counts they'd owe Oracle $37.5-million. Oracle, using the same estimates, came up with, brace yourself, an estimate of maximum damages of $32.3-million. Yes, that's right, Oracle came up with a lower number than Google based on its own paid expert's figures.

Oracle wanted billions. They'll be lucky to come out with millions. After legal costs are taken out, Oracle will probably lose money on its Android/Java IP lawsuit.

Rising Sun Yacht image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Related Stories:

Google, Oracle patent trial pushed back to April

Oracle vs. Google Android, Java lawsuit settlement talks will go no-where

A Google Android and Java history lesson

Sun CEO explicitly endorsed Java's use in Android: What do you say now Oracle?

Oracle: Hardware business decelerates, cloud combat coming into view

Topics: Smartphones, Android, Security, Oracle, Open Source, Mobility, Mobile OS, Legal, Hardware, Google, Enterprise Software, Software Development

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47 comments
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  • Insert hysterial laughter here...

    Please allow me to apologize in advance for the following:

    LOL - Branson you a$$hole. You reap what you sow.

    Ahem. We now return you to your normal civilized discussion. This has been a test release of my inner-child. This has only been a test.
    kstagg
    • Branson?

      I think you've got your moguls mixed up.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • Well, they have similar names

        XXXXson

        ;-)
        D.T.Long
  • Poor article

    SJVN, why get personal ??? Personal attack on a tech article will only paint you as a mor*n
    owllnet
    • Can't see past the tip of your nose?

      Or apply even the most basic logic?

      So calling SJVN a mor*n is NOT a personal attack?
      D.T.Long
    • Sjvn

      Like paintin' water wet.
      dixonrf
  • Oracle did some strange things after buying Sun

    It is hard to overstate the goodwill they lost with the Java community after their antics with the Android suit and OpenOffice. Google could have and should have been an immense partner in demonstrating the clear value of using Java as a development platform, and the two companies' lawyers could have swept any issues with Dalvik under the rug very quietly.

    Instead, Android is viewed by all as a success despite Java, and not because of it. Enormous damage was done.
    Mac_PC_FenceSitter
  • kstagg - what does Branson have to do with

    the price of peanuts in Brazil??? Or Oracle?

    So bottom line... Google is probably guilty, the damages are just not as much as Oracle would like it to be (re guilt, see incriminating internal emails admitting Google knew it did not have a license for Java but was going to use it anyway... Google's philosophy and M.O.... easier to ask forgiveness (a free pass) after the fact (theft) than permission before it).
    MacCanuck
    • Probably guilty?

      Why do you think so? Note that patent lawsuits are often filed on the theory that they're more expensive to fight than to settle.
      John L. Ries
    • Google is "probably guilty"?? Are Canadian schools as bad as US schools?

      One shouldn't jump to the conclusion of guilt before the trial takes place. Google has several affirmative defenses. These pre-trial damages figures are just estimates of what might be considered reasonable damages should Google be found to have infringed. There is no presumption of guilt, and the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, who has screwed up mightily in its pretrial shenanigans.

      They, sadly, even have Jacobs of MoFo acting like a BSF liar - er - lawyer much as BSF behaved throughout the SCO v Novell fiasco.

      I would not expect them to prevail any more than did SCO.
      ShineOn
      • "probably guilty"

        due to the damning internal Google emails where it was admitted by major players that they knew they didn't have permission (a license) to use Java but went ahead and used it anyway.

        That seems like they're holding the smoking gun IMO and Google's intent couldn't be more clear.

        And like I stated previously, that seems to fit Google's M.O. of freely borrowing/taking others IP and accepting any fallout or consequences as part of doing business.

        The main issue SJVN seemed to be highlighting is that Oracle isn't likely to get as much in damages as it thought it was due or was hoping for.

        I also see (by my -5 rating as of this post) that the Googlites can't handle the truth or admit Google "does know evil" :-)

        And they talk of Jobs'/Apple's RDF !!!
        MacCanuck
      • You're forgetting

        MacCanuck, about the announcement from Sun welcoming Google's use of Java, which is rather exculpatory.

        To quote the great SVJN:

        ------
        While Schwartz???s blog post has since been erased by Oracle, Groklaw found the page and has republished it In his note, Schwartz not only congratulates Google ???on the announcement of their new Java/Linux phone platform, Android.,??? he goes on to announce that ???Sun is the first platform software company to commit to a complete developer environment around the platform, as we throw Sun???s NetBeans developers platform for mobile devices behind the effort. We???ve obviously done a ton of work to support developers on all Java based platforms, and we???re pleased to add Google???s Android to the list.???

        So, there you go, Java???s owner at the time not only welcomed Android???s use of Java, they were actively supporting it with development tools. So, what do you have to say now Oracle?

        You???d better come up with something good because when Oracle recently tried to keep evidence out of the public eye, U.S. District Judge William Alsup blasted them. In the Courthouse News, Alsup is reported to have said, ??? The big companies do not own the U.S. District Court, When it comes to a public hearing I???m not going to resort to Morse code to figure out what you are saying This is not a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oracle. Nobody is going to put my word under seal even if I refer to your secret documents.???

        There was nothing secret about Sun???s pro-Android position. Indeed, in a sworn statement to the court, Schwartz said his company welcomed Android to the Java community He called ii a ???pair of rockets strapped to Java that will take our Java-community even higher.???

        Groklaw editor, and lawyer Mark Webbink, explains, ???Now the interesting question about this and other similar comments that were apparently made by Sun executives is whether the statements communicated an understanding to Google and others that they would not be threatened with Sun???s patents; statements upon which they relied. This is the legal doctrine of estoppel. ???
        jgm2
      • Are Canadian schools as bad as US schools?

        I don't know what you are talking aboot!
        mlashinsky
  • Very interesting

    Very very interesting indeed.

    I'm wondering whether a similar thing could happen to Microsoft - given all the baggage in patent "licensing" fees its charged on Android makers. What if it lost one or more of its current lawsuits.

    Then think about it: 200 million Android phones x $10 in royalties per phone x 50% of smartphones have the Microsoft tax = $1 billion in Android "tax".

    Smells of a potential class-action against M$ here? Is that possible?
    srs2012
    • Not so interesting

      I don't believe you've quite given the situation any critical thought, beyond your desire for a negative MSFT outcome. First, who even uses "M$" and expects to be taken seriously? Second, on what grounds would you suggest a class-action suit against MSFT? Simply because they are successfully leveraging their extensive IP portfolio to generate additional revenues is not illegal. Using patented technology without permission IS illegal however and licensing that IP is not required under any law (outside certain FRAND considerations).

      If you don't like software patent laws, fine. I don't care for them either. But let's not pretend that licensing IP at a reasonable fee is some horrible misdeed as some want to make it out to be.
      BrianTX
      • Not so simple

        You may have a bogus patent, but a lot more money than I do for litigation. As a result I settle, because I cannot afford the fight.

        If you think MS is too ethical for that type of coercion, I have a bridge for sale.
        D.T.Long
      • Define reasonable

        For that matter, if someone says they'll license it for free, but oh, give us a year to figure it out... No, in fact, Google did the only rational thing given how despicable the overral situation is. They didn't "steal" IP. They are simply forcing these companies to prove that the millions BS patents they're generating are valid. It is not rational to assert that the burden of proving patent validity is prohibitive, because the multi-billion dollar multinationals with full time legal staffs have generated millions of BS patents both created the problem in full knowledge that they have the resource advantage in such a dispute.
        tkejlboom
    • Not possible!

      For all its mistakes or blunders in following markets and not leading into new markets, Microsoft actually plays it legally very safe. They delayed release of Win 5 (or Win 4) till 1995 (called Win 95) so all legal hurdles imposed by lawsuits from Apple were judged in their favor. That went to the Supreme Court which ruled in favor of Microsoft against Apple. Apple became (unlike its suing Samsung, Motorola and HTC now) went after Microsoft to lose heavily in the end.

      As well Microsoft has really invested in generic computing research (all sorts - host networking, UI, display technologies, visual aiding tech, data mining, distributed processing etc etc etc) a lot since 1990s. They really have filed hell a lot of patents from that division the extent of which is superseded only by IBM.

      If Microsoft went after Linux patents, they have good and provable reasons.

      If Microsoft went after Android OEMs, they probably have provable reasons as we are finding out (not judged yet) in the suit filed by Barnles and Nobles recently.

      Microsoft is not Sun. Microsoft is not Oracle either.

      Even with a Win 8 utter failure, expect Microsoft to be on the horizon for another 10 to 20 years.
      calahan
      • save

        Maybe a little less on the legal save site in some anti-trust situations.
        When can I choose my pc with our without?
        somereader
      • Microsoft is not?

        You forget the microsoft proxy patent fiasco with SCO? How convenient. This was a war against Linux fought by SCO against IBM (and others), which SCO ended up being laughed out of court and flat broke. They were using MS money (MS owned SCO at the time).

        MS are no angels. Groklaw was propelled to fame on the basis of vexatious MS lawsuits back in the 0's.
        dimonic