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Oracle vs Google: Judge orders Oracle to foot the bill

Chris Mayer
android1

Presiding Judge Alsup has thrown salt into Oracle’s wounds by ordering them to pay Google $1.1m in costs.

Just when you thought the Oracle vs Google patent and copyright infringement case had finally petered out, Larry Ellison’s company have been dealt a further hammer blow by the presiding Judge Alsup.

Oracle’s pursuit of that elusive $6bn damages figure for the inclusion of Java patents in Android has long since subsided, but Alsup thrown salt into the wounds by ordering them to pay Google $1.1m in costs.

Following two years of litigation and six weeks at the courthouse, Alsup was pretty damning in his conclusion:

Oracle initially alleged infringement of seven patents and 132 claims but each claim ultimately was either dismissed with prejudice or found to be non-infringed by the jury. Oracle also lost on its primary copyright claim for Java APIs…

While it is true that a copyright issue presented, copyrightability of APIs, was of great importance to the computer industry, this is not enough to deny costs. The media attention following this case was due in large part because Oracle crafted broad, and ultimately overreaching, claims of copyright infringement. A close follower of this case will know that Oracle did not place great importance on its copyright claims until after its asserted patents started disappearing upon PTO reexamination (indeed, Oracle’s first damages report barely mentioned copyright claims). Oracle did not bring its API copyright claim for the benefit of addressing “a landmark issue of national importance,” but instead fell back on an overreaching (albeit somewhat novel) theory of copyright infringement for its own financial interests late in litigation. On these facts, Oracle has failed to overcome the presumption of awarding costs to Google.

To summarise the above: Oracle will have to cough up for this drawn-out API case against Google. Whilst it isn’t the $4m Google were hoping for, it’s still a sizable amount from the Oracle coffers. Alsup also denied Google’s motion for judgment as a matter of law, or a new trial. Not that it will matter too much – both parties are looking for the exit door in this affair.

The judge also revealed that he would “take no further action” regarding the murky area of payments for favourable articles from commentators and journalists, reassuring both sides that “no commentary has in any way influence the Court’s orders”. Oracle revealed their relationship with FOSS Patents blogger Florian Mueller, whilst Google eventually disclosed that Mark Lemley, a Stanford professor, acted as outside counsel in other matters.

So, a resolution looks in sight – Oracle will have to ‘fess up for this ill-advised litigation and hopefully, this will be the last we hear of matters. Then again, this has been said before…

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