Settlement conference by April 9th

Google and Oracle ordered in for final settlement talks by Android judge

Chris Mayer

A last-ditch attempt from the court to get Google and Android to thrash out differences ahead of April 16th.

With a court date finally set in stone for April 16th, Oracle and Google, the two parties fighting over Java patents within Android have been invited for a final settlement conference.

Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal, who had overseen previous settlement talks between the parties has said there should be a last-ditch attempt to settle before they enter the courtroom at the middle of next month. Grewal has said that this can happen no later than April 9th 2012. His order read:

The parties shall appear for a further settlement conference. The participants shall include at least Ms. Katz and Mr. Rubin. Without delay, outside counsel shall propose to the undersigned’s courtroom deputy available dates so that the conference will take place no later than April 9, 2012. March 30 is not available. Counsel are warned to demonstrate maximum flexibility in tendering dates. IT IS SO ORDERED.

Slightly humourously, there is a typo within this order, as Oracle’s Oracle’s Co-President and CFO is called Safra Catz. Andy Rubin is of course Google Android chief.

It seems increasingly unlikely, given how things have played out so far, that Oracle and Google will kiss and make up in these talks. With a firm date set after to-ing and fro-ing since 2010, we doubt either would choose to settle now, especially after Oracle narrowed the scope of their case significantly. But you never know.

FOSS Patents blogger, Florian Mueller seems to think that there’s a good chance they will settle on parts of the intellectual patent battle, but duel it out for copyright. He says:

I’m not sure that this imposition by the court is helpful. With a firm trial date approaching fast and the case having been narrowed substantially (with relatively little left on the patent side, it’s now almost exclusively a copyright case), there’s a better chance than ever before that the parties may settle — but if there’s a common ground they can agree upon, I believe they will do so even without the court requiring them to show up, and if their positions are still irreconcilable, the compulsory meeting won’t yield any result.

A partial settlement would also be conceivable: they might agree on how to settle whatever little is left of the patent part of the case but still duke it out on copyright.

The ball is in Oracle’s court leading up to the trial. They can either take their chances with the copyright case, and not settle here, or take a damage-limitation strategy. The case continues (still)…


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