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Google vs Oracle post-script: the price for revealing sensitive financial information

Google will file a motion requesting sanctions against Oracle's law firm following the revelation of sensitive financial information during the court case.

Published onJuly 4, 2016

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Just when you thought the Google vs Oracle court case was finally dead and buried – the case has been ruled on, after all – not so fast, there’s still a post-script to be written. Google may have won the case, with the court ruling that Google’s use of Java APIs in Android did indeed constitute fair use, but Google has now received permission to file for sanctions against Oracle’s lawyer for revealing confidential information in open court.

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You may recall a couple of months ago it became public knowledge that Google paid Apple $1 billion dollars to have Google search on the iPhone. The figure apparently represents a 34% slice of the revenue Google makes from searches originating on iPhones. Or it did, “at one point in time”, according to Oracle’s lawyer Annette Hurst. Hurst also revealed that Android had made $31 billion in revenue and $22 billion in profit for Google. At the time Google objected that the figures were not public knowledge.

Google tried to have the Apple percentage struck from the record during the case, but was overruled. Google then attempted to have the transcript of the hearing sealed, claiming that the information was “highly sensitive” and “extremely confidential”. But Google was again foiled in its effort to keep the curtain closed on its finances.

Oracle's lawyer revealed that Android made $31 billion in revenue and $22 billion in profit for Google.

Bloomberg published two stories on the transcript’s contents back in January. Two hours after the story went live the transcript disappeared from electronic court records. Google had apparently petitioned the judge overseeing the case to have the transcript removed from public access as soon as it was published, but Bloomberg’s story let the cat out of the bag.

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Google then asked Judge William Alsup – who had been overseeing the case since it was first brought against Google in 2010 – for sanctions against Oracle’s law firm for Hurst’s remarks. Judge Alsup vowed to consider the request once the case had closed. That happened on May 26, so Google’s lawyer, Bruce Baber has now officially received permission to file a motion seeking sanctions.

Whether or not any sanctions will actually be issued is unknown at this stage (it may be a few months yet), but perhaps more worryingly, Google has also filed for reimbursement of its court expenses. Google wants Oracle to pay $3.9 billion in total for court costs. This figure comprises $1.8 billion for document management, $1.8 billion for a court-appointed expert and $300,000 for transcript fees.

Google now wants Oracle to reimburse it for $3.9 billion in court expenses.

If the court orders reimbursement, Oracle might be in for more than it ever imagined. The figure does not include Google’s legal fees, which would be a staggeringly large number (but cannot be usually be recouped). But having fought a six-year case, only to lose, and then face a close to $4 billion reimbursement claim must make Oracle wonder if they should have brought the case to court in the first place. Or at least hired a different lawyer.

Did you have any idea Android made that much money? Or that Apple got so much for including Google search?

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