Oracle's situation in its intellectual-property legal battle against Google is looking bleaker by the day.
At one point in time, Oracle was trying to go after Google with the intent to receive up to US$6 billion in damages. Slowly, that figure has dwindled down to somewhere around US$1 billion, and then a few hundred million.
Now, it looks like Oracle could end up with just US$150,000 — if anything at all, given that the threat of a mistrial looms and we're still in the middle of the second phase of the trial covering patent infringement.
Judge William Alsup warned Oracle at the US District Court of Northern California on Thursday morning that the "most" that the plaintiff might end up with is statutory damages over the nine lines of code in the rangeCheck method — the only item on the verdict form phase one of the trial in which the jury found that Google's conceded use was copyright infringement.
"The fact that they have nine lines out of many millions, you have no damage study tied in," Alsup said to Oracle.
Although it is up to the jury to determine damages, the maximum limit for statutory damages is US$150,000.
Alsup suggested that they "might want to find a way to streamline for some dollar amount", hinting that they should try to negotiate a settlement, in order to avoid a long third phase of the trial dedicated to determining damages.
Nevertheless, all of this is still to be determined, as Google has filed a motion for the copyrights phase of the trial to be declared a mistrial. The judge has not ruled on that issue yet.
Even if Google had to fork over US$150,000, it could still be a huge win for the internet giant, considering how much Oracle originally wanted.
In regards to the patents part of the lawsuit — which Groklaw described as a "roll of the dice for both parties" — Google put up a better offer in April for up to US$2.8 million in damages over two patents in question. Furthermore, Google also offered a deal of 0.5 per cent from Android revenue for one patent through December 2012 and 0.015 per cent on a second patent through April 2018. The catch is that this offer was only a stipulation for damages if (and only if) Oracle prevails on patent infringement.
Oracle reportedly rejected it.