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Oracle, Google CEO Talks Fail To Deliver Settlement

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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The two companies’ chief executives met for six hours, but failed to resolve their differences over Java’s use in Android

A six-hour meeting between Oracle and Google attended by both companies’ chief executives failed to resolve a dispute over the use of Oracle’s Java in Google’s Android operating system, according to court records.

The companies met on Friday for court-mandated settlement talks that included appearances by Google chief executive Sundar Pichai and Oracle chief Safra Catz, but the two parties failed to reach a resolution, according to a statement by US Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal.

Retrial to go ahead

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The failed talks mean the companies’ dispute will head to a retrial scheduled for next month.

Grewal noted that Oracle and Google had also tried and failed to settle the case before its initial trial, which concluded in 2012.

“After an earlier run at settling this case failed, the court observed that some cases just need to be tried,” Grewal wrote. “This case apparently needs to be tried twice.”

He added that the companies deserved recognition for the settlement effort and for making their chief executives available.

In Oracle’s copyright case against Google, which dates back to 2010, the company argues Google wrongly used Java as the basis for Android without first acquiring a licence.

Oracle said last month it may seek up to $9.3 billion (£6.5bn) in reparations, a figure that reflects the quick growth of the market for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, which have come to eclipse conventional PCs.

Oracle is seeking restitution of its own lost profits as well as a share of Google’s profits from Android.

Copyright dispute

The case also raises questions over the way in which programming languages and programming interfaces are protected by copyright law.

Google argues its use of Java is covered under fair use, and in a separate court filing has demanded that parts of the testimony of Oracle’s intellectual property expert, James Malackowski, be barred from trial, saying it is inaccurate.

In the companies’ first trial, in 2012, a jury found Google had infringed Oracle’s copyright, but were divided over whether the copying was allowed under “fair use”, which permits copying of protected works in certain, limited cases.

The companies are scheduled to return to San Francisco federal court to decide the issue of fair use on 9 May. In the new trial, Oracle includes six additional versions of Android in its case, up to Lollipop.

Android could soon be facing antitrust charges in Europe, with the European Commission set to file formal proceedings against Google as early as Wednesday, according to a report last week.

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