Menu
Oracle seeks US$8.8 billion for Google’s use of Java in Android

Oracle seeks US$8.8 billion for Google’s use of Java in Android

The figure appears in a report by Oracle's damages expert, which Google strongly contests

Google's Android will use code from the open source OpenJDK project Credit: Martyn Williams

Google's Android will use code from the open source OpenJDK project Credit: Martyn Williams

Oracle is seeking US$8.8 billion in damages in a long-running copyright lawsuit against Google over its use of Java in Android, court filings show.

Oracle sued Google six years ago, claiming the search giant needs a license to use parts of the Java platform in Google's market-leading mobile OS.

The companies went to trial over the matter in 2012 but the jury was split on the crucial question of whether Google’s use of Java was protected by "fair use," which permits copying under limited circumstances.

They're headed back to a federal district court in San Francisco for a new trial due to begin May 9. As last time, a parade of star witnesses is expected to take the stand, including Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Google’s Eric Schmidt.

The damages figure appears in a report compiled by an expert hired by Oracle to calculate how much Google should pay for its alleged infringement.

The figure could be reduced before the case gets to trial. It's currently about 10 times the sum Oracle was seeking when the case went to trial last time.

The increase reflects the dramatic growth of both Android and the smartphone market in the intervening years. The new trial will cover six additional versions of Android, up to and including Lollipop.

To put $8.8 billion in context, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, made $4.9 billion in profit last quarter.

Google has hired its own damages expert who's sure to have come up with a much lower estimate for how much harm Oracle suffered. That damages report isn't yet public, but a filing by Oracle last week suggests Google caps at least part of the damages at $100 million.

When damages estimates vary widely, juries often settle on a figure somewhere in between.

Google did not respond to requests for comment, and an Oracle spokeswoman declined to comment.

At issue in the case is Google's decision to use Java as the basis for its Android operating system without obtaining a license from Sun.

In the first trial, a jury found Google had infringed Oracle’s copyright by copying into Android the "structure, sequence and organization" of 37 Java application programming interfaces.

The trial judge, William Alsup, ruled later that APIs aren't eligible for protection under U.S. copyright law, dealing Oracle's case a seemingly fatal blow. An appeals court overturned that ruling, however. Google appealed to the Supreme Court, which declined to take the case. So it now heads back to Alsup's court to retry the issue of fair use.

As Oracle tells it, Google was in a mad rush to get its operating system to market before competing platforms could take hold. It chose to use Java because there were already millions of programmers familiar with the language.

Google denies any wrongdoing. It says its use of Java is covered by fair use, which allows copying in limited cases. Factors include whether the use of the copyright work was transformative, meaning whether it turned it into something new; the amount of the original work that was copied, and the impact of the copying on the market value of the original work.

The estimate from Oracle's damages expert, James Malackowski, comprises two parts: $475 million for damages incurred by Oracle, and $8.8 billion for profit made by Google.

Oracle damages estimate Oracle/IDGNS

Summary of findings by Oracle's damages expert, James Malackowski

The first figure accounts for money Oracle might have made from licensing Java to handset makers itself, if Google hadn’t developed Android. The second is for profit Google made from Android, including mobile advertising, and apps and content sold through the Android Market and Google Play.

There’s likely some overlap between the figures— if Oracle had made its $450 million from licensing Java to handset makers, the theory goes, then Google would have made slightly less. So rather than add the figures, Oracle is asking for only the $8.8 billion.

In a court filing last week, Google blasted Malackowski's report and asked Alsup to exclude parts of it from trial, saying it "ignores the statutory standard for copyright damages and fails to offer anything resembling an expert analysis."

Copyright law says damages can only be claimed for profits that are "attributable to" the infringing code. And the 37 APIs are "a fraction of a percent of the code in the complex Android smartphone platform," Google’s lawyers argued.

“Oracle and Malackowski improperly equate the value of the entirety of Android” with the value of the 37 APIs, Google says.

The two sides are due in court April 27 for a pretrial hearing before the judge.

This story has been corrected to reflect that the damages amount Oracle is seeking is $8.8 billion.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2015 and 2016 inductees - Darryl Swann, Dave Rosenberg, Gary Bigwood, Keith Watson, Mike Hill and Scott Green - to the inaugural Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed how the channel can collectively work together to benefit New Zealand, the Kiwi skills shortage and the future of the industry. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Reseller News launches inaugural Hall of Fame lunch
Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Show Comments