Judge Orders Oracle, Google Mediation For Android Lawsuit

An American judge has ordered Oracle and Google to mediation in attempt to settle Oracle’s long-running lawsuit against the Android operating system.

And the judge warned both companies that the five-year long legal tussle will likely enter a sixth year if the two sides fail to reach an agreement.

Never-ending lawsuit

The wheels of justice has creaked ever so slowly in Oracle’s bitter fight against Google over its Android operating system.

Oracle is seeking more than $1bn (£641m) in the case, after Oracle filed the lawsuit back in August 2010. Oracle claimed that Google had infringed its patent and copyright when it used Java to develop the Android OS. Specifically, Oracle alleges that Android infringes a number of Java APIs.

Google had asked the Supreme Court in October last year to overturn a ruling by the US Court of Appeals, which said Oracle could copyright parts of Java, contrary to an earlier decision by a San Francisco federal judge.

However, the Supreme Court denied Google’s request and sent the case back to San Francisco federal court for further proceedings. It upheld the appeals court’s ruling that allows Oracle to seek licensing fees for the use of some of the Java language. Google had argued that it should be able to use Java without paying a fee.

Last week Oracle asked a US judge to update the lawsuit to take into account the latter’s domination of the smartphone market.

But now according to Reuters, US District Judge William Alsup has said that the lawsuit will probably not proceed to another trial until the middle of 2016.

Judge Alsup also reviewed a series of legal issues that must be resolved before a retrial. And he asked whether mediation would help the companies settle the case. Google attorney Robert Van Nest reportedly said he thought mediation would be “premature.”

But that held little truck with Alsup, and he reportedly ordered both companies into mediation “whether you like it our not.”

Judge Alsup said that trial calendar likely precludes another trial until spring of next year.

Copyright Issues

Android is by far the world’s most popular mobile operating system, but smartphone manufacturers and Google itself has had to face a number of legal battles regarding patent infringement.

Indeed, Google’s brief acquisition of Motorola for £8bn was mainly motivated by a desire to gain access to the company’s patent portfolio in order to protect Android from lawsuits.

Microsoft has been particularly aggressive in seeking royalties from Android device makers over the use of its patents, and has negotiated deals with individual companies, including HTC, LG, Samsung and Dell.

The Windows Phone developer recently sued Samsung for late payment of royalties, with reports suggesting the deal was worth $1bn a year.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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