Oracle seeks billions in Google lawsuit
Jun 16, 2011 (San Jose Mercury News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Oracle (ORCL) has put a multibillion-dollar price tag on its claim that Google (GOOG) built the popular Android software by using some of Oracle's Java code without permission, according to documents filed Thursday in San Jose federal court.
Google is disputing Oracle's claims for patent and copyright infringement, but recent court filings indicate Oracle is seeking a share of Google's extensive advertising revenue in damages for the alleged violations.
The case is being watched closely in the tech world because it could have broad implications for the commercial software and mobile computing industries.
Oracle acquired rights to the widely used Java programming language when it bought Sun Microsystems last year. Google, meanwhile, has made its Android operating system into one of the most popular platforms for smartphones and tablets in the world.
The two tech giants have been wrangling in court for months, attempting to define complex technical and financial issues before a scheduled trial date this fall. Many of their arguments have been filed under seal, on the grounds they concern proprietary business information.
Oracle's damage estimate surfaced Thursday as the companies exchanged arguments over an analysis by one of Oracle's experts, Boston University business professor Iain Cockburn. Google had asked a judge to seal its motion attacking that analysis, but Oracle filed papers arguing there is no reason to hide some information, including "the fact that Oracle's damages claims in this case are in the billions of dollars." While Google lets device makers use Android for little or no cost, the Mountain View company makes money when users turn to Google's search engine and click on advertising that's related to search results.
In court papers, Google has said its advertising revenue should not be at stake. It argued that "the value of the Android software and of Google's ads are entirely separate" because the advertising is powered by other software that works on both Android and non-Android devices.
Google also contends that Cockburn's estimates are based on "fundamental legal errors" and fall into a range that is "orders of magnitude beyond any reasonable valuation of the intellectual property at issue." Attorneys for Oracle, however, said in a court filing that their claims "are based on both accepted methodology and a wealth of concrete evidence. They should not be hidden from public view." U.S. District Judge William Alsup agreed on that last point, ruling that Google must file its response as a public record.
Oracle has a track record of aggressively guarding its intellectual property. Last fall, the Redwood City company won a $1.3 billion jury award against SAP, a German software company that Oracle sued for using its programs without authorization.
Contact Brandon Bailey at 408-920-5022; follow him at Twitter.com/BrandonBailey.
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