Oracle's Google Android patent lawsuit cut down to size

Instead of billions, Oracle will be lucky to get above $100-million in its Java patent lawsuit against Google Android.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

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

Editorial standards