Oracle lawsuit could force Google to charge a per-copy license fee for Android

“One of the best-kept secrets in the patent dispute between Oracle and Google is what Oracle demands in terms of compensation for past damages and on which terms (monetary and other conditions) Oracle might allow Google to continue to distribute its Dalvik virtual machine as a result of a settlement or, alternatively, if Oracle prevailed in court and obtained an injunction,” Florian Mueller reports for FOSS Patents.

“For the first time in this entire lawsuit (which began almost ten months ago), a publicly accessible document provides, despite some blackened passages, a pretty good indication as to how demanding Oracle is,” Mueller reports. “I have analyzed the situation and I can tell you up-front: the word ‘demanding’ is an understatement. The position on damages for past infringement taken by an Oracle expert appears to be such that Oracle would want Google to pay damages for past infringement that would in the worst case far exceed any money Google has made with Android so far — and would likely expect Google to pay even more going forward.

Mueller reports, “The two companies are not just miles but light years apart, and it could very well be that a defeat in court would require Google to make fundamental changes to its Dalvik virtual machine — changes that would likely affect many if not all existing Dalvik-based (.DEX) applications. But even in purely financial terms, there’s serious doubt as to whether Google would be able to meet Oracle’s requirements while continuing to make Android available without charging a per-copy license fee.”

“Interestingly, Google itself admits that it could have done a license deal with Sun (apparently before it was acquired by Oracle) but rejected its terms,” Mueller reports. “That refusal could now prove one of the worst mistakes in Google’s 13-year history as a company.”

Much more in the full article here.

Related articles:
U.S. judge sides with Oracle over Google in Android patent infringement language ruling – April 27, 2011
Apple CEO Steve Jobs hid iPad development from Google mole Eric Schmidt – April 12, 2011
37 Android-related patent lawsuits since 2010 – March 22, 2011
Android Java code likely to damage Google’s defense against Oracle’s patent infringement lawsuit – January 22, 2011
New evidence shows Google may have directly copied Oracle IP in Android – January 21, 2011
FOSS Patents: Google’s patent portfolio too weak to protect Android – January 20, 2011
Oracle: Google directly copied Java code in Android – October 28, 2010

42 Comments

  1. “Interestingly, Google itself admits that it could have done a license deal with Sun (apparently before it was acquired by Oracle) but rejected its terms,” Mueller reports. “That refusal could now prove one of the worst mistakes in Google’s 13-year history as a company.”

    So Goober instead used IP without licensing permission?

  2. Oracle, charge a $100 fee.
    Make it retroactive. Either get it from google, or from the customers. If they don’t pay, disable your code.

    That=Android dead.

    Cheers for oracle 😉

  3. One wonders “where didn’t they use ill-gotten code”?

    These sleaze balls will get theirs eventually.

    Staffed by freetards that assume that everything they can google “are belong to them” can has code?.

    1. Mister anonymous coward Grady:
      Your bigotry is showing.
      Your ignorance is showing.
      Your HATE is showing.

      I’m not going to argue over Prop 8, but you are one hell of a lost douchebag.

    2. As if you are in a position to preach on “what the founding fathers wanted.” Tyranny? That’s what your ilk would impose on the rest of us, if we ever let our guard down.

      Just because you believe it does not make it true. And just because you believe it does not mean that you can force others to believe it or live by your beliefs. That’s my opinion about what the founding fathers wanted for the U.S.A.

  4. Don’t get your hopes up. I think we will see nothing come of this. Google is one of America’s favorite companies, most folks have no idea who or what Oracle is. My view is Google will buy its way out of this cheap. They are not fools in Mtn View, you know.

    1. Public (mistaken) opnion of Google won’t matter. Oracle could care less. They are vicious in coming after people, and they will not simply settle with Google for a small sum. I fully expect Oracle to not only get a large up front settlement, but will enforce an ongoing per device license fee as well.

      If this comes to pass, Android adoption will certainly slow…

    2. This is not a country were the people get what they want, if that was the case Al Gore would have been president as he won the popular vote and not Bush. Also don’t sell Oracle short, they are heavily intrenched in the corporate and educational worlds and wield a lot of power. Also based on Googles statement that they could have licensed the code from Sun before the Oracle buyout seems to imply they knew they were using code they didn’t have the rights to.

    3. Many past comments purported to be from “foreigners” have been very reasonable. Most of them have been more reasonable than those apparently contributed by U.S. citizens. OpenMind is not one of the better ones, even if Google does appear to be trending in the trashy company direction in recent years.

  5. Lately Oracle is looking more and more like slime. They have done absolutely NOTHING to make Java better since they bought Sun.

    All they appear to be interested in is going after others for claimed IP infringement (Google today, who knows who else tomorrow).

    Seriously they have driven all the real talent at Sun out the door. The inventor of Java one James Gosling left Oracle and went to work for Google. This is the same guy who stated that most of Sun’s IP patents were a ‘Joke’ back in 2009 and laughed about how Sun Engineers had contests to see who could get the most ridiculous patents approved.

    Oracle has to win this thing before anything really happens and so far the only real ‘proof’ they can come up with is an old copy of Sun code that was used as a reference to see if Davlik produced correct Java byte code. Hardly an earth shaking revelation.

    Just recently 129 of Oracle’s claims were thrown out of court leaving 3.

    I had high hopes for Sun and Java when Oracle purchased them but at this point Oracle has lost a LOT of respect that I held for the company.

    1. @Dude McFarland, you said: “Just recently 129 of Oracle’s claims were thrown out of court leaving 3.” That’s actually not correct. The judge had entered a purely tentative order. It was modified in many ways. The number of patent claims Oracle will be allowed to take to trial has not yet been set and it won’t be set until the time of the pre-trial conference (at some point in October based on the current schedule). The current state of affairs in terms of schedule and claims is this: http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011/05/oracle-wins-postponement-of-decision-on.html

      Most recently, Oracle’s position was that they wanted to assert 21 claims at trial (7 patents times 3 claims per patent). Google even suggested (long after the judge’s 3-claims idea) a compromise of 10-14 claims, and Oracle rejected that one:
      http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011/05/oracle-and-google-file-joint-memorandum.html

      There’s a lot of confusion out there because an “open source law” blog I prefer not to name claimed that 129 of Oracle’s 132 claims had been thrown out. That was not the case and still is not the case. Also, the number of patent claims they assert isn’t the most important metric. What matters is how many different patents they get to assert. They’d certainly like to assert many claims per patent, but if you tell them to focus on the top 2 or so claims per patent, they’ll be able to make a choice, while they’d really hate to be forced to drop entire patents (i.e., all claims of a given patent).

      1. Thanks for the info.
        I’m all for oracle here, wanted to learn more about the lawsuit so thanks for the informative links.

        Something the guy you responded too.. Can’t do.

      2. Mr. Mueller:
        I have been reading your posts and appreciate your thorough research and lucid explanations. Not many of us are familiar with something as complex as patent laws, and your effort and care have been highly appreciated. You have cared to respond to Dude McFarland’s concerns with further clarification is a good example of that.

        Kudos to you, and thank you for all your diligent work.

      3. Thank you, sadly I was actually reading some of this exact information 2 minutes after I made my post as I was looking up the latest information that was out there.

        Alas you can’t edit or delete your comments on MDN! (probably a good thing 🙂

        I can’t say that I’m for Oracle here, not considering their actions with Java to date.

        I also question the culture of any company when visionaries like Goslin and Diffie jump ship suddenly. Oracle has been shedding Sun’s best talent since shortly after the buyout. That speaks volumes about the way they operate in my mind.

        1. I think you need to give Oracle an opportunity to get comfortable with owning Java before trashing it on not making any changes. The last thing you should do when buying a company is make wholesale changes just for the sake of making changes. You have to learn how the former company worked, watch their processes, and then discover what can be improved upon or what may be duplicative of your current company. Oracle seems to be playing this correctly, and I’m sure it won’t just let Java fall by the wayside.

    2. ” This is the same guy who stated that most of Sun’s IP patents were a ‘Joke’ back in 2009 and laughed about how Sun Engineers had contests to see who could get the most ridiculous patents approved.”

      I think you’re mischaracterizing Goslin’s thoughts on patents. He states on his blog that back in the Eighties, they didn’t think much about patents until IBM brought a RISC suit against sun that devastated the company and nearly put them out of business.

      As a result of that suit Sun became obssessed with patents and began copyrighting everything. To Gosling and his coworkers it almost seemed absurd and so began the unofficial contest to see who could get the “goofiest” patent approved by Sun’s patent lawyers. Gosling never succeeded.

      Your comment sounds almost as if your attempting to invalidate any Sun copyrights now owned by Oracle, by referring to them as jokes.

  6. This thing will drag out in the courts till forever. By the time a court hearing comes up Android will have mutated beyond recognition from the original code. Apart from proving infringement how are you going to quantify damages. You need to prove Google derived some financial benefit from Android. At the rate it’s going by the vast amounts of money Google is throwing into the Android sinkhole it’ll be quite a while before Google sees a pretty penny from its efforts. Can you say XBox redux?

    1. By your definition, someone could steal IP, and release it as part of their software, illegally, and as long as it didn’t make them any money, there won’t be damages? Don’t think so.

    2. The damage is lost licensing revenue to Oracle. Doesn’t matter if Google is operating Android at a loss, it just means they are underreporting the actual loss.

    3. Not true. The trial is scheduled for October and is expected to last six-weeks.

      Google is beginning to sweat. They’ve hired a third law firm who markets themselves as specialists in “make or break” cases, which is a vote of no confidence for their initial legal team.

      Google could be in trouble on many different levels, irrespective of patent law. Oracle’s attorneys might attempt to publicly embarrass Google over their playing fast and loose with GPL and their application of the term “open” with regard to Android.

      Anyway, the game of chicken is over, and I don’t think for a minute that Google is sitting on their hands. They’re in panic mode since their recent court appearance and Oracle isn’t negotiating as evidenced by their list of demands.

      Google has hired several Oracle executives in recent months, not to mention the former Sun employees who also left Oracle, allowing Google to address their shortcomings of senior executives in their enterprise positions, but perhaps Larry intends to make them sweat by undermining their mobile roadmap.

  7. “But Google does not want to allow Oracle to control Java the way Google controls Android.

    I could provide even more examples of how Google’s defense against Skyhook contradicts its defense against Oracle. In one case it’s about Google’s rights to do as it pleases with its own intellectual property (including, but not limited to, the Android trademark). In the other case it’s about Oracle’s rights to license its IP on its terms. When Oracle wants to assert control and derive revenues, Google claims it attacks open source. But Google’s defense against Skyhook also cites the concept that “[a]dvancement of one’s economic interest . . . is not an improper motive.”

    Wired might do well to do a cover on Google with the heading: “Pray!”

  8. But but it’s open source and google promised to do no evil!
    Surely they wouldn’t lie while amassing massive amounts of cash and crapping all over anyone who might get in the way.
    Surely everyone should trust google implicitly with all of your online activity, data, contacts, purchases, gps info?

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