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22 July 2011, 10:15

Google and Oracle criticised in Android patent case

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Oracle vs Android The judge in the Android patent case, District Judge William Alsup, criticised both Oracle and Google in the hearing on Thursday. The case is currently focused on estimating potential damages in advance of the full case being heard. The judge described both companies as "asking for the moon" and asked them to be more reasonable.

Oracle says it is claiming $2.6 billion in damages, but Google has suggested that Oracle's calculations of damages range from $1.4 billion to $6.1 billion and is asking for these estimates to be disallowed. Google instead suggests that, as Java is open source, the loss to Oracle would be nothing and therefore Oracle should be eligible for no damages. Judge Alsup rejected this saying "Zero is ridiculous" and calling Google's claim that its advertising income be excluded from damages calculations as "totally wrong". The judge has not made a ruling yet, but one is expected soon.

According to a Reuters report, the judge also criticised Oracle when it appeared hesitant about discussing financial details in court. "This is a public proceeding. You lawyers and companies are not going to handcuff the court. This is not a wholly owned subsidiary of Oracle Corp".

The court has also been hearing about various deals that were on the table between Sun and Google. In 2006, Google says it rejected a $100M three year deal to work with Sun to jointly build Android. Judge Alsup asked why the company had discussed a licence with Sun and was told by Google's attorney, Robert Van Nest, that there was no specific discussion of patents. Van Nest also noted that while a few lines of code in Android are "identical" to Java, that code probably came from a third party. A 2007 letter from a Google executive to Andy Rubin, Google's Android project leader, was cited by the judge as saying "We conclude we need to negotiate a licence for Java". Van Nest said Google's position remained that there was no infringement and therefore no wilful infringement.

Separately, Bloomberg reports that Oracle have got permission from a magistrate judge, to depose Google chief Larry Page over negotiations between Google and Sun from 2005 to 2010. Oracle will have two hours to question Page "solely on topics relevant to the wilfulness of defendant’s alleged patent infringement, and the value of Android" to Google.


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