Oracle Ordered to Lower Android Lawsuit Damages

Posted by at 10:58 am on January 17, 2012

Oracle’s already delayed trial against Google for alleged copyright and patent violations in Android has been set back indefinitely in an attempt to lower damage requests. Judge William Alsup ruled late last week that he wouldn’t set a trial date until Oracle sets a “proper damages methodology.” He wanted the company to go lower than what it wanted following tossed patent claims and accused Oracle of being interested solely in high damages worth billions rather than compensation for actual losses.

“Oracle has no one to blame but itself, given that twice now it has advanced improper methodologies obviously calculated to reach stratospheric numbers,” Alsup said.

He hinted the case could even be dismissed if Oracle couldn’t tone down its expectations, which were once as high as $6.1 billion but were still as much as $2.6 billion.

Google is also still petitioning the court to reverse a decision allowing a key e-mail message from Tim Lindholm. The engineer had been asked by Google’s co-foudners to find an alternative to Java for Android and Chrome to skip licensing requirements, but determined that the Sun- and later Oracle-owned framework was needed and would likely require a license. Many both in and out of the court have considered this a definitive piece of evidence, since it shows the highest levels of company leadership aware of and ultimately ignoring the need for a Java license.

Alsup has made a number of concessions for Google. Along with the damage controls, the trial itself is split into three phases for copyright, patent, and miscellaneous issues. The structure would let Google press for a settlement if it loses a phase early on but continue to the end if it’s confident it can escape a penalty.

The lawsuit at its extremes has been considered a posssible threat to Android itself, since it could have put a significant tax on every use of Android and challenged its free-to-use model. The absence of an up-front cost has been key to Android’s growth and getting an edge over Apple’s strictly in-house iOS and Microsoft’s per-device license on Windows Phone.

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