Oracle v Google - Less Damages, Fewer Patents
Written by Sue Gee   
Wednesday, 22 February 2012

With a trial of its lawsuit against Google over Android perhaps only two months away, Oracle has dropped one of the patents at  issue and it may also be seeking a more modest sum in damages.

With a trial of its lawsuit against Google over Android perhaps only two months away, Oracle has withdrawn the final claim regarding patent '476. This patent was already very weakened after the Patent Office issued a rejection of 17 of its 21 claims so this seems a prudent move. 

This leaves only five patents now at issue. - which is much nearer the "triable number" demanded by Judge William Alsup last Spring (Oracle v Google - Judge limits scope of trial).

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Oracle has also submitted its third damages report and there is widespread speculation that this seeks a much more modest sum in damages. The only known numbers come from Google's rebuttal.

As is only right and proper by the rules of the game, Google has once again challenged the damages report from Iain Cockburn as being "riddled with fatal errors" and the resulting amount claimed as being "overstated".

Google also maintains that Oracle has failed to comply with Judge William Alsup's stipulation about  apportionment: he wanted Oracle to break down the commercial value of each of the asserted intellectual property rights all the way down to the level of a single patent claim.

One thing that has been overstated in the past is the amount of damages Oracle was seeking. Like other commentators we reported the figure from the initial damages report as "between $1.4 and $6.1 billion" whereas it later emerged that the sum sought was, at $2.6 billion, nearer the lower bound. This figure only emerged at the time of the second damages report, which probably asked for the very similar amount of $2.7 billion according to Florian Mueller.

In allowing Oracle to submit a third, and final, damages report, Judge William Alsup warned Oracle to "adopt a proper damages methodology" and by referring to previous "stratospheric numbers" was presumably suggesting it lowered its demands.

By reading between the lines of Google's latest motion to strike portion of the latest damages report, Groklaw come up with figures of up to $57.1 million for patents plus up to $169 million for copyright. On this basis others are making statements such as:

So now the suit tops out at about $226 million

which Mueller maintains is "misinformation" and "the result of fundamental misconceptions".

It does look likely, however, that Oracle has tempered its damages claims in respect of patent infringement. This and the withdrawal of patent '476 means that the focus of the trial can be on copyright infringement and on using the Lindholm email to show that Google knew all along that it was guilty in this respect.

So the sage continues and perhaps the trial won't be "just about money" as we thought previously. With lower damages Oracle must be hoping that restraints on Android are going to force Google to pay a lot more in the future. This doesn't help settle the mind of the average Android developer one little bit.

 

Related Articles

Oracle v Google Trial Could Start April

Patent Office ruling reduces Oracle's case against Google

Oracle v Google - it's just about money

Oracle v Google - Judge limits scope of trial

Oracle sues Google for Android Java use

 

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