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Android Legal Spat As Oracle Eyes Mobile Ad Money

Oracle is asking Google to pay 50 percent of royalties, including mobile ad dollars, in the Java patent lawsuit

Google’s lawyers asked the judge presiding over Oracle’s patent infringement case against the search engine to discount an expert’s suggestion that Google hands over mobile advertising revenues incurred from searches performed on Android devices.

Oracle sued Google for patent and copyright infringement over Google’s use of Java in its open-source Android operating system.

Oracle, owns Sun Microsystems and renamed it Oracle America in January, accused Google of infringing seven Java patents and other copyrights. The case has been wending its way in US District Court in Northern California since last August.

Royalties From Searches On Android Phones

From the start, Oracle sought damages and an injunction against Google from using its intellectual property in Android. While both parties kept the amount of the damage request held to their chests, a June 6 letter from Google’s attorneys shed more light on the subject.

Google’s legal eagles said Iain Cockburn, the Boston University professor hired by Oracle to calculate damages, is wrong to suggest Oracle deserves mobile ad sales Google gleaned from searches conducted on Android phones. Cockburn suggested Oracle seek a 50 percent royalty rate.

Google does not sell the open-source Android software, relying instead on ads paired with Android smartphone searches. As such, the company believes Cockburn has no basis to argue that mobile searches conducted on Android devices should be connected to any royalties Google may be ordered to pay Oracle.

“The value of the Android software and of Google’s ads are entirely separate: the software allows for phones to function, whether or not the user is viewing ads; and Google’s ads are viewable on any software and are not uniquely enabled by Android,” Google’s attorneys countered.

Cockburn also suggested Google should pay Oracle for contributing to the fragmentation of Java, an already fragmented platform. Google’s lawyers asked Judge William Alsup to exclude Cockburn’s damage estimates, which are related strictly to past infringement, going forward.

IP expert Forian Mueller, who has been following the case closely, said Oracle’s demands are steep, noting on June 7:

“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.”

The closest Google has come to revealing mobile ad earnings came last October, when the company said its mobile ad business was was operating at a run-rate of $1 billion (£600m).

Mueller fears Google, which made $30 billion (£18bn) from ads last year, could meet Oracle’s requirements without charging licensing fees for Android.