Oracle, the company that purchased Sun Microsystems and, with it, the rights to Java, has been in a legal battle with Google since August of 2010. Earlier this year, Oracle made a surprising move in court: To counter Google’s attempt to conduct the case outside of the public eye, Oracle made it clear that the case was big enough that it warranted public disclosure. How big was that? According to Oracle, it was in the “billions.” Now, however, Oracle has been ordered to slim down the dollar figure that’s it’s seeking, at least in initial damages.
The Case in Brief
When Oracle bought Sun, they got access to a lot of patents. Some of the patents covered, or seemed to cover, technology used by Google on the Android platform. The Java-based technologies are necessary for running apps on Android, and according to Oracle, “Google’s Android competes with Oracle America’s Java.” The idea of direct competition stems from functionalities Android adopted that can effectively replace the code within, allegedly breaking the terms under which they originally received access to said code.
Oracle claims that the damages are immense, and threw the figure $6.1 billion onto the table. The big number is somewhat ironic, since it verges on the purchase price that was once offered to Google by Sun; Google could have bought Sun, and all those patents, for just $7.4 billion.
The New Claim Limits
According to eWeek, the claim is now being limited to $100 million to start, but that comes with certain additional opportunities. For one, Oracle was granted the right to “depose Google CEO Larry Page for up to two hours to help the court determine if the search engine willfully infringed on Oracle’s patents.” If the infringement is found to be willful, the amount of damages sought by Oracle can be tripled.
The new limit in damages isn’t a hard limit. Rather, it’s a starting point, and certainly a more reasonable one than the $6.1 billion sought previously. Google is far more likely to settle on smaller figures, although the exact details – including how this will impact the Android OS – have yet to be seen.
[Sources include: eWeek]