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Oracle accepts a $2.6bn cap on damages from Google over Android

Latest skirmish in the Java patents battle
Thu Jun 30 2011, 16:20

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY VENDOR Oracle has accepted a cap on damages of $2.6bn from Google in its lawsuit over Android's alleged infringement of Java patents.

Oracle filed a response to Google's Daubert motion, in which the firm sought to exclude Oracle's expert witness, Harvard professor Iain Cockburn, by claiming that he ignored or distorted facts and ignored well established principles for determining damages. Not surprisingly Oracle has argued to the contrary, however within that argument Groklaw found that Oracle accepted a cap on any damages it might receive from Google should the case go in its favour.

Oracle has accepted a cap on ordinary damages of $2.6bn, which is significantly less than the $6bn that had been bandied about previously. Groklaw also pointed out that the position of Oracle's expert on damages might not be the conclusion that will be reached by a jury after it has heard Google's cross-examination of Cockburn and, presumably, its own expert witness.

Previously Google argued that Cockburn had ignored previous negotiations between Google and Sun over the licensing of patents. It also claimed that Cockburn ignored previous licensing transactions between Google and Sun for the Java patents that amounted to "a fraction" of what Cockburn has claimed in his damage estimates. Most interesting was Google's observation that Cockburn arrived at his damages figure by using worldwide sales of Android handsets, yet Oracle's patents are only valid in the US.

The issue over just how large any damages Google might have to pay is just one pre-trial issue among many. Previously Oracle was ordered to reduce the number of patent infringement claims and Google was also limited in the number of prior art references it could use to defend itself. Given the sums of money involved and the popularity of Android, it's not surprising that both parties are fighting tooth and nail to ensure that they will come out on top and maximise or limit any potential damages.

However, as Groklaw's exports say, don't expect Oracle's latest brief to be the end of the matter on just how much Google could end up forking over if the lawsuit doesn't go its way. As for the trial, that is expected to start before November. No matter which way that goes it likely will be appealed, so this will run and run. µ


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