Not too long ago, Oracle was saying Google owes them $6.1 billion, for alleged patent and copyright infringements. Google, and pretty much everyone else with a bit of common sense, said that was way too much — even if the infringement claims turned out to be true.
The Judge Alsup agreed, and actually got quite angry with Oracle, and demanded that they lower their ridiculous claim, or not be allowed to have any say in the damages estimate anymore. Oracle kept refusing to lower that number, so the Judge even went ahead and tried to get his own expert on the matter, which is not very common in these types of cases.
Now, all of the sudden, Oracle seems to agree to a much lower damages claim – six times smaller in fact, and one of ‘only’ $1.16 billion. Oracle knows that if they win the case, the judge will probably order Google to pay only $100 million or maybe a few hundred million at most, which is what the Judge originally thought the damages would be worth.
So, based on how Oracle has acted, it indicates to us that they have responded out of the fear that they know they will likely earn a lot less, and, as such, now amenable to agree agree to a significantly smaller sum. The new damages estimate include $202 million for patent infringements and $960 million for copyright infringement.
However, the trial hasn’t started yet (it will next month), so even though Oracle likes to make these claims as if they are true and proven, they simply haven’t been proven yet, and we will know for sure only when the final verdict has been given.
My thoughts on the matter are as follows: with Java being open-source, anyone should be able to fork it, without owing Oracle anything. It’s how open source software works. If Oracle actually has some patents that would prevent some other company from doing the forking without paying them something first, then maybe they shouldn’t have gotten those patents in the first place, or they are in serious conflict with how Java was supposed to work as an open source technology.
On the other hand, if Google ends up losing the trial, I can’t imagine them paying even $1 billion for it, which is as much as Oracle is claiming. It would probably be much less, and it would barely scratch Google, financially wise. If anything, the bad PR they are getting from this may be hurting them a lot more than what they’d actually have to pay Oracle if they lost.