THE JUDGE in the Oracle lawsuit has grilled Google over the possibility that it knew it was infringing Java patents in its Android operating system.
US District Court Judge William Alsup sent a list of questions to the internet search giant, strongly insinuating that Google was well aware that it was infringing the patents owned by Sun Microsystems, which were subsequently acquired by Oracle when it bought Sun in 2009.
In a notice regarding additional questions for the next hearing, Alsup said that it "appears possible that early on Google recognised that it would infringe patents protecting at least part of Java."
He said that while reading the Daubert briefing, a move by Google to have Oracle's damages expert dismissed, it seemed that Google entered negotiations with Sun, but abandoned them when the licence became too expensive, ultimately making Android without any licence from Sun.
He asked how accurate this proposed scenario was, and if Google acknowledges that Android infringes some of the patent claims, how this should affect the analysis of damages, and how this should affect the issues of willfulness and equitable relief.
This does not bode well for Google, as it adds the element of willful intent to the case, which means Google could face substantially heavier damages if found liable for patent infringement. Indeed, Oracle has asked for triple damages because of Google's alleged knowledge of infringement.
Oracle sued Google in August 2010 for infringing a number of its Java patents. Google does not make money directly from Android, but rather through its advertising business model, and Oracle wants a substantial slice of that pie, settling on a damages cap of $2.6bn.
Alsup said that legal counsels should be prepared to answer these questions at the hearing next week on 21 July, which could prove to be a decisive date in how the case goes for Google. µ
Hold the front page
Bluesky's the limit
Might need to come up with a better name though
There's an app for *that*