Google, Oracle to head to court as settlement talks fall through

JC Torres - Apr 17, 2016, 8:18 pm CDT
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Google, Oracle to head to court as settlement talks fall through

Six hours. That’s how long, or, to be more blunt, short settlement talks between tech giants Google and Oracle lasted. Given that duration, the outcome should probably already be evident. The the companies failed to reach a settlement regarding an ongoing copyright infringement lawsuit Oracle filed against Google for the use of its proprietary Java APIs in Android. As the settlement failed, the two will head back to court next month to perhaps once and for all give closure to both the actual question of infringement as well as damages to be paid. If any, that is.

Like the patent case between Samsung and Apple, the litigation between Google and Oracle has been going on for years, starting way back in 2010 even. Oracle’s beef is on how Google profited from the use of its Java APIs in Android without paying royalties to it. Google argued that it did not need to, as the use of such API fell under fair use.

The results and rulings of the trial definitely made up for entertaining, or nerve-wracking for those deeply involved with either party, drama. A jury initially found Google guilty of violating copyright on at least 37 Java APIs. Trial judge William Alsup later overturned that on the grounds that APIs are not subject to copyright law. An appeal’s court, in turn, overturned Alsup’s ruling in favor of Oracle. Google tried to get the US Supreme Court to chime in on whether APIs indeed fall under copyright laws or not. The SC would hear none of it and passed the case back to lower courts. And this is where we are now.

The settlement talks, attended by both Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Oracle CEO Safra Catz, were ordered by the court to see if it’s possible to reach some compromise outside of the court. Considering the stakes, not to mention the money, involved, it’s not that surprising to hear that it failed. The two companies have not softened on their legal positions over the years and Oracle has just recently come out demanding a large sum from Google. $9.3 billion in fact, of which only $475 million is for actual damages. The other $8.83 billion, Oracle’s damages lawyer argues, is for the profits Google made over the years from all of Android, not just the parts that supposedly infringed on said APIs.

At this point, the case can still go in either party’s favor, both for the question of copyright itself and, should Google lose, the computation of damages. For its part, Google is already taking steps to distance itself from that headache. Android N has been more or less confirmed to totally drop those APIs in favor of an open source OpenJDK alternative. But that is still for the future and Oracle’s win could spell trouble not just for Google but for most of the Android world as well.

SOURCE: Business Insider


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