THE LEGAL FEUD between Oracle and Google over the alleged use of Java in Android could cost Google several billion dollars if Oracle gets its way.
A court filing in the controversial case was disclosed on Thursday, revealing for the first time the kind of damages payment Oracle is seeking, and the number is huge.
In the document Oracle claims that Google has been attempting to conceal the figure, but Oracle did not mind it being released to the public. Google revealed the information in a court filing and later requested that it be kept under seal by the court. It's understandable why it wouldn't want the information shared, as it suggests that damages should be in the billions, not millions, as some observers previously expected.
Given that the information comes from Oracle and it had no objection to it being revealed, US District Judge William Alsup ordered that Google make the document public, according to Reuters. The attempts to keep it secret ultimately backfired on Google, as now it appears that it is fearful over the total sum Oracle is seeking, which could have a major impact on its business if it loses the case.
The disclosure follows a dispute over Oracle's choice of damages expert, Ian Cockburn. Cockburn estimated that Oracle should be due around 50 per cent of Android profits, including profits from advertising, which is pretty much the only money Google makes on the open source mobile operating system. That figure could even jump to 150 per cent on the basis of willful infringement, effectively wiping out Google's Android profits and eating into its other profit as well.
It was not exactly clear at the time how much money this could really involve and what kind of damages claim Oracle would make on the basis of Cockburn's estimates, but now that it has been revealed that it wants "billions of dollars", it's not surprising that Google wants Cockburn's testimony thrown out.
The lawsuit began in August 2010 when Oracle accused Google of infringing its Java patents, acquired when it bought Sun earlier that year, in the Android mobile operating system. The case has gained notoriety in open source circles, because Android is open source and Java is partly open source, with both Sun and Oracle originally having promised to make it fully open source yet failing to deliver on that promise.
The trial is expected to begin in November and all eyes will be watching to see if the internet giant is brought to its knees by Oracle. µ
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