Android OS in the Hot Seat as Oracle v. Google Legal Battle Kicks Off Today
April 16, 2012 4:00 PM
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Oracle claims Google is stealing its Java
(Source: Digital Femme)
Jury trial is expected to pack a lot of interesting information
If you think that Oracle Corp.'s (
) lawsuit against Google Inc. (
) will be your typical boring corporate legal drama, think again. The expected witness list alone hints at an exciting trial, in the case which was filed in August 2010. Oracle expects to call on the two companies chief executives --
long-time Oracle CEO Larry Ellison
fresh Google CEO Larry Page
-- as the first witnesses.
Jury selection has already begun for the case, which is expected to kick off today in U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of California
-- a San Francisco court. The case went to trial after Oracle
rejected a Google settlement offer
Judge William Alsup
presided over the majority of the early hearings in the case
-- will now preside over the jury trial, which is expected to last eight weeks. The trial will consist of three phases -- copyright liability, patent claims and damages.
If Oracle wins, it may be able to obtain anywhere from $100M USD to $1B USD in damages. Ostensibly Oracle's chief goal, though, is to secure a finding of infringement which would force a ban on all Android handsets. In such a scenario Oracle could force Google to sign away the majority of its Android revenue in exchange for being able to continue to use Java -- Oracle's proprietary language that Android's core software uses.
The juicy question is exactly how much money Android is making -- a figue that Google has tightly guarded. Google's past secrecy has led many Apple supporters to speculate that Android is making in the hundreds of millions of dollars a year for Google. The trial should put such speculation to rest and reveal the true story, though, whatever it may be. States Judge Alsup says companies will not be able to withhold finances or other sensitive figures, commenting, "This is a public trial."
Oracle will try to sway jurors that Google is indeed guilty of IP theft. [Image Source: Noisecast]
Oracle's case is
built heavily around emails
indicating that Android managers were aware of this issue, but did not move aggressively to address it. Oracle also displays
Java processing source files contained in the Android repository
and how they allegedly reuse blocks of Sun's code, without holding a valid license.
Mr. Ellison is expected to bemoan the "harm" Android has caused his company, and the value of its $7B USD
2010 acquisition Sun Microsystems
Google, on the other hand, will try to establish that Sun Microsystems knew about and verbally permitted its unlicensed use of Java. Google points to Sun Microsystems as having called Android a tool to "spread news and word about Java."
It quotes former Sun chief executive Jonathan Schwartz who
praised the launch of the unlicensed Android
as an "incredible" day for the Java family -- rather inconsistent language with Oracle's claims that Google flagrantly infringed on Sun's Java IP rights. (Oracle tried to delete the blog in which the former CEO wrote this, but was foiled by webpage archiving.)
Google CEO Larry Page is expected to be an early witness in the trial and may be forced to provide hitherto undisclosed information on Android's profitability.
[Image Source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek]
Google is also making the argument that certain parts of Java cannot be copyrighted do to legal agreements made by former Java owner Sun Microsystems with the open source community. Ostensibly it will attempt to see certain Oracle patents invalidated.
We'll keep you updated as the two tech industry heavyweights carry out their clash in court.
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RE: A driver's licence isn't a pilot's licence.
4/17/2012 10:07:30 AM
With the patent system the way it is. The "solidness" of the legal foundation is essentially inversely proportional to the money being made. In other words: make some money on software (or tech in general) and companies/people are going to come out of the woodwork with inane patents and claims that they were violated. I don't think there's any way for any company to have a rock solid legal foundation in this area. See: every large cell phone manufacturer or OS provider suing all the other ones, for instance. The best they can do is patent every f#cking thing they can and hire an army of lawyers for the inevitable court battles.
RE: A driver's licence isn't a pilot's licence.
4/17/2012 6:42:44 PM
Well they can get the legislators that they have bought to do something about it. But apparently not enough harm has been done to get us to this step (yet?).
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