Oracle, the company that owns Java, has been engaged in an arduous legal wrestling match with Google. While the legal battle has been ongoing since August 2010, Oracle’s recent claims make the true scope apparent: Oracle statements say the company is seeking a figure “in the billions of dollars.”
The Multi-Billion Patent Claims
Google has motioned to have the case filed “under seal,” a move likely designed to protect both confidential information and shareholder confidence. Oracle’s objection to this Google move claimed that the figures were significant enough that they “should not be hidden from the public view.” Their statement, as quoted by Businessweek, read:
“Oracle’s damages claims in this case are in the billions of dollars [..] are based on both accepted methodology and a wealth of concrete evidence.”
Google countered that Oracle’s “‘methodology’ for calculating damages is based on fundamental legal errors and improperly inflates their estimates.” This claim from Google, if supported, would make Oracle’s objection a moot point.
The Case So Far
The case started in August 2010, seven months after Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems – and, with it, all rights to the Java patents. Oracle attempted to file an injunction that would have forced Google to stop using anything related to Java and destroy any existing products that used elements that – according to Oracle – were built using Java elements but without appropriate licensing.
That includes Android, whose Dalvik software (an element of the OS used to run applications) is one of the targets of Oracle’s claim. Google, however, stated that all the cited patents are either entirely invalid or that an associated license for the patent in question had been acquired. Google outright denied the Dalvik-infringement claim, saying that there was no evidentiary support provided by Oracle.
Google may already be suffering from the public nature of the case, even without a decision on the “under seal” motion. Even the less-than-concrete “billions” notion may have done damage to Google’s shareholder relations; Google closed at $485.02 on June 16. This is the first time in six months that the company’s value closed at under $500.