Oracle Sets Google Java Damages At £6.5bn


Oracle and Google are set to return to court over the use of Java in Android in May

Oracle may seek up to $9.3 bn (£6.5bn) in reparations from Google in its copyright case over the Java programming language’s use in Android, according to court filings.

The figures are Oracle’s latest salvo in its case against Google, which dates back to 2010, in which it argues Google wrongly used Java as the basis for Android without first acquiring a licence.

androidSmartphone growth

The size of the damages, which are significantly higher than those specified in Oracle’s earlier demands, reflects the quick growth of the market for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, which have come to eclipse conventional PCs.

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

The document, an estimate report compiled by third-party experts on behalf of Oracle, includes $475m in Oracle profits lost as a result of Google’s use of Java and another $8.8bn share of Google’s profits from Android.

The document hasn’t been made public, but was leaked and has been widely circulated.

In January, Oracle disclosed to the court that Google had made $31bn in revenues and $22bn in profit from Android since it launched in 2008. Google’s parent company Alphabet reported $4.9bn in profits for its most recent quarter.

Fair use question

Google’s own damages estimate hasn’t been made public, but Oracle said in a court filing last week that Google limits part of its estimate to about $100m.

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.

“Oracle’s damages expert ignores the statutory standard for copyright damages and fails to offer anything resembling an expert analysis,” Google argues in the filing, adding that the code in question comprises less than 1 percent of the Android platform..

“He opines that the Android OS as a whole… is responsible for 35.6 percent of profits on advertisements shown on Android devices and 100 percent of profits on Google-branded Android hardware, applications and digital content sold for use on Android devices,” the filing reads.

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.

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