Mediation talks in the Java patents dispute have stalled before they begin with Oracle objecting to Google’s team
Google and Oracle are arguing again but rather than Java in Android being the focus it is about who should attend mediation talks that could settle the dispute.
Last week, Judge William Alsup, who is presiding over the patent and copyright infringement case, suggested that “the top executive officers” of each company could spend a couple of days discussing the dispute with a magistrate mediating. The hope being that an out-of-court settlement can be reached.
Google choice rejected
Oracle agreed and pitched Safra Catz, president of Oracle and Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of Oracle Product Development as its representatives. Google concurred and proposed Andrew Rubin (pictured), senior vice president for Google’s Mobile Division and Kent Walker, general counsel for Google.
The choice of Rubin and Walker is disputed by Oracle because neither official is on a par with Catz. Google, which has no role as president in its mangement structure, argues that Rubin reports directly to Larry Page, Google’s CEO, and is therefore on a par with Catz.
The problem Oracle has with this is that Rubin does not figure on the executive list of Google’s five senior officers. In short, Oracle does not believe that Google is giving enough seriousness to this issue, a view that has been a stumbling block for previous talks.
Earlier in the dispute, the database company pulled out of private talks because it found them “frustrating for lack of follow-through” by Google. It is known that Oracle would prefer to see Page, and Google has made it quite clear that this is something it will resist.
Google said, “Mr Rubin is knowledgeable regarding the issues in this case and he is fully empowered to resolve this matter on reasonable terms.”
This rankles with Oracle which views him as a poor choice: “Oracle believes the prospects for a successful mediation will be far greater if Google’s executive-level representative is a superior to Mr Rubin, who is the architect of Google’s Android strategy – the strategy that gives rise to this case.”
It appears that Oracle wants to talk big money and Google wishes to argue some of the finer points in the hope of paring down Oracle’s financial claim to a “reasonable” level.
If the two companies cannot agree on this matter, it will probably be left to Judge Alsup to ask Google to think again. Commenting on the current impasse, Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst at Foss Patents, has taken Oracle’s side. He blogged, “I believe it shows Google isn’t prepared to spend serious money on a settlement at this stage.”