Oracle's Anti-Android Java Lawsuit Likely to be Settled For Under $100M USD
March 23, 2012 7:38 PM
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(Source: Trip Advisor/James Lynwood)
Google may pay a bit in ongoing licensing fees, but the settlement for past damages will be small
Oracle Corp. (
Google Inc. (
) for reportedly knowingly infringing on Oracle's Java intellectual property via an unlicensed Apache open source distribution. The Java IP had been acquired by Oracle in its April 2009
acquisition of Sun Microsystems
I. From a $6B USD Case to a $100M USD One
, both sides fought hard in court. Oracle
scored court permission
from top Google executives and Android engineers, which cumulatively indicated that it may have knowingly have violated Oracle's intellectual property. Google returned fire, airing a 2007 statement from ex-Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz
endorsing Google's use
, which indicated that it might have been unofficially authorized/condoned after all.
However, it appears Google is prepared to come out relatively well from the patent dispute. While Oracle had sought up to $6.1B USD in infringement damages, ultimately, it will almost certainly end up with less than $100M USD in damages for pass infringement.
That's a huge win for Google and its Android partners.
The lower settlement estimations come based on Oracle's expert witness Dr. Iain M. Cockburn, who is a professor of finance and economics at Boston University. Dr. Cockburn initially had delivered an estimate of $1.4B-$6.1B USD.
U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup
, who at times has admonished both Google and Oracle, voiced critism about Dr. Cockburn's initial approach. He pointed out that of Oracle's 22 acquired Java patents, Dr. Cockburn had drastically upgraded the value of the 6 in contention in the case. He ruled that only an equal valuation of the entire portfolio was possible.
II. Oracle Sets Its Sights Lower
Dr. Cockburn was forced to deliver a new valuation, which was much lower. Ultimately it looks like Oracle may get ~$5M USD for direct infringment of
U.S. Patent No. 5966702
"Method And Apparatus For Preprocessing And Packaging Class Files", and
U.S. Patent No. 6910205
"Interpreting Functions Utilizing A Hybrid Of Virtual And Native Machine Instructions", according to
It will then get an extra $27M-$37M USD for the copyright infringement. Overall this will all stack up to about $40M USD.
Android may get off in the Oracle lawsuit surprisingly easy [Image Source: Android and Me]
Here's where it get's a bit confusing -- Oracle has already withdrew its claim on the '205 patent, as
it was invalidated
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
. But Google is now also being sued for
second patent --
U.S. Patent No. 6,061,520
"Method and system for performing static initialization". This won't likely lead to any big shift in the settlement amount, but it means there may be a mistake in some of the court documents from Google/Judge Alsup, printed by
, which refer to the '205 (invalid) patent, when in fact it appears they mean the '520 (asserted) patent.
What does all this mean? Google will likely pay less that $100M USD in damages, a small slap to the world's largest smartphone OS maker. It will likely have to pay a bit of ongoing royalties, but with only 2 asserted patents, it's unclear whether that sum will be truly that onerous versus the 6, highly overvalued patents that Oracle originally hoped to beat money out of Google with.
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RE: honestly what is oracle thinking?
3/24/2012 4:52:19 PM
there should be no royalties because android is free open source software
My understanding is just because you release software that is open source doesn't mean you avoid paying royalties. The reason open source don't pay royalties is because either copyrighted code has been removed from it or because the copyright owner has allowed that code to be included in a file distributed under an open source licence such as GNU General Public Licence (GNU GPL) or the Apache Software Foundation licence (Apache).
Writers of open source software have to make sure that they don't take closed source stuff and put it into a GPL or Apache licenced program, because the copyright owner could easily want royalties for their code, or stuff from a GPL program and put it into an Apache one (or vice versa) because the terms of the licence are different.
Interestingly, Android code is released under the Apache Foundation licence, but does contain some code released under GNU General Public Licence (GPL), so presumably Google has to adhere to the terms of both licences when it distributes Android.
One of the requirements of both the Apache licence and the GNU GPL is that when you obtain code released under that licence and modify it, then your own code has to also be released under the same licence.
I'm not sure why Oracle thinks it has a right to sue Google, because Java was released by Sun under the terms of the GNU GPL, which is the same licence as the Linux portions of Android are released under. As long as Google adheres to the conditions of both GNU GPL and the Apache licence then they can't be sued, and if they don't adhere to those conditions then they should be sued by the either the Apache Software Foundation or the Free Software Foundation (or both).
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