Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Oracle Wins Nothing In Google Copyright Suit

In the ongoing battle that is the Oracle versus Google lawsuit, Oracle has now agreed that Google owes nothing for copyright infringement. Not exactly, but sort of.
To recap, Oracle sued Google for both patent infringement and copyright infringement over Google's Android smartphone operating system. By the end, a jury found that Google did infringe on Oracle's JAVA API copyrights, but only if those APIs are copyright-able, and the copyrights in a few lines of code. The judge later ruled that the APIs were not copyrightable, which left very little in the copyright phase of the case. The jury also concluded that Google did not infringe the few patents that remained in the suit after most of the patents had already withdrawn.
Is that confusing enough? If not, then consider the latest. Google and Oracle have now filed a stipulation that Google does not owe Oracle anything for the one copyright infringement left in the case (the one for a few lines of code in a "RangeCheck method").
Oracle gives up damages award against GoogleThis isn't really a big deal for Google. It's not like Google proved that it owed nothing and that the "RangeCheck method" wasn't worth anything. Actually, this is just a procedural maneuver so that Oracle can speed the litigation along to the appeal. Oracle basically has taken the position that it doesn't need the paltry little sum that one count of statutory damages would bring. Rather, Oracle wants to get the Ninth Circuit to hear this case as quickly as possible, and is willing to take nothing now in exchange for a chance at the real money later.
We'll see if that gamble will pay off. But to be fair, Oracle isn't walking away from all that much. One count of statutory damages would only be $150,000 at most. And given that the jury found that Oracle had led Google to believe that Google didn't need a license, that amount could realistically have been reduced to as little as $200. Yes, two hundred dollars. So realistically, Oracle didn't give up much in exchange for speeding up the appeal.