When Oracle sued Google back in 2010 about alleged Java-related patent violations, many were stunned by the move, especially considering the fact that Oracle is a founding member of the Linux Foundation. Given the fact that the respective patents were used in a Linux-based mobile OS (Android, of course), it was quite surprising that Oracle was going after a member of the ecosystem that they claimed to defend.
When the trial first started, Oracle expected to gain somewhere between $1B to north of $6B (yes, SIX BILLION) from Google as compensation, but now, that seems to have been just a passing shimmer in Larry Ellison’s eyes. Following recent developments, Oracle is now aiming to obtain a less than impressive (judging by the size of the two companies) $100 million, presumably barely enough to cover legal expenses.
Although Google was initially incriminated of violating six Oracle-owned patents with the Android OS, following the search-engine giant’s request to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to re-consider the situation, Oracle withdrew some of their claims, and four of the patents Google has supposedly broken were invalidated. So, at the time being, only a couple of patents are on the lawsuit’s table of orders.
Interestingly enough, these are not patents filed by Oracle themselves, but rather ones that they inherited back in 2009, when they have acquired Sun Microsystems. In my point of view, the best statement regarding the case was made by Java creator James Gosling, when the trial first started: “Oracle finally filed a patent lawsuit against Google. Not a big surprise. During the integration meetings between Sun and Oracle where we were being grilled about the patent situation between Sun and Google, we could see the Oracle lawyer’s eyes sparkle. Filing patent suits was never in Sun’s genetic code”.
In what was possibly the decisive move, Google has reissued a 2007 statement made by Johnatan Swartz CEO of Sun Microsystems at the time, in which he endorsed Google’s use of the license. Although not an official agreement, unofficial endorsement is still a big factor in this kind of lawsuits. In the other corner, Oracle counter-attacked with a number of emails from Google employees, in which it was pointed out that Google was knowingly breaking the Java license.
Oracle’s own expert, Boston University professor Iain Cockburn initially claimed that Oracle might receive up to $6.1 billion, if Google was found guilty in the Android/Java lawsuit. However, in a major turn of events, Cockburn now estimates a maximum compensation of $37.5 million. At the end, Oracle might end up receiving north of that sum, somewhere around $100 million, but it’s definitely a huge blow for the owners of the Java license, considering their initial claim.
Aren’t you guys sick of all these patent lawsuits? I know I am…