Oracle lawyers demand funny money from Google

Consulting-the-Oracle-JWW-1884Oracle’s legal team does not appear to have learnt anything from its more or less failed attempt to get Google to pay up for their use of Java applets in Android and are demanding funny money from the search outfit.

Oracle said it wants $9.3 billion in damages in a long-running copyright lawsuit against Google over its use of Java in Android.

But Oracle sued Google six years ago, claiming the search giant needs a licence to use parts of the Java platform in Google’s market-leading mobile OS. The companies went to trial over the matter in 2012 but the jury was split on the crucial question of whether Google’s use of Java was protected by “fair use,” which permits copying under limited circumstances.

Now the federal district court in San Francisco for a new trial due to begin May 9. As last time, a parade of star witnesses is expected to take the stand, including Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Google’s Eric Schmidt.

The $9.3 billion figure is 10 times the sum Oracle was seeking when the case went to trial last time and is because Android is so successful. The new trial will cover six additional versions of Android, up to and including Lollipop. Even to Google this is not chump change. Google thinks that even it lost it should not pay more than $100 million.

In the first trial, a jury found Google had infringed Oracle’s copyright by copying into Android the “structure, sequence and organization” of 37 Java application programming interfaces.

The trial judge, William Alsup, ruled later that APIs aren’t eligible for protection under US copyright law, dealing Oracle’s case a seemingly fatal blow. An appeals court overturned that ruling, however. Google appealed to the Supreme Court, which declined to take the case. So it now heads back to Alsup’s court to retry the issue of fair use.

Google has already blasted Oracle’s costings and asked Alsup to exclude parts of it from trial, saying it “ignores the statutory standard for copyright damages and fails to offer anything resembling an expert analysis.”

Copyright law says damages can only be claimed for profits that are “attributable to” the infringing code. And the 37 APIs are “a fraction of a percent of the code in the complex Android smartphone platform,” Google’s lawyers argued.