Oracle, Google Set to Square Off in Java Trial

By Beecher Tuttle April 16, 2012

The much-anticipated courtroom showdown between Oracle and Google is set to commence on Monday in a trial dubbed the “World Series of IP cases” by the judge presiding over the case.

The trial date comes two years after software giant Oracle first accused Google of deliberately infringing on its Java technology to help create Android, Google's highly popular smartphone operating system that currently runs on more than 150 million devices. Oracle sued Google just months after it acquired Java maker Sun Microsystems in 2010 for $7.3 billion.

If the jury finds that Google infringed on Oracle's Java patents, U.S. District Judge William Alsup can award damages and – even more damaging to Google – issue an injunction to force the search engine giant to acquire a Java license. Google would then need to make Android compatible with Java or make its own improvements to the programming software available to other licensees, Oracle lead attorney David Boies noted in a statement obtained by the Wall Street Journal.

In addition to accusing Google of copying its Java APIs, Oracle has argued that Google severely fragmenting the programming language by picking and choosing the APIs that it wanted, and then incorporating other incompatible APIs into Android. Oracle Chief Corporate Architect Edward Screven said last year that Android has basically boxed Oracle out of the highly lucrative smartphone market due to the negative impact on Java.

“I don't believe that there is a strategy that we could adopt at this point... to displace Android given that they've sucked all...the air out of the room for Java on smartphones,” Screven noted in an earlier deposition.

A major component of the eight-week trial will almost certainly involve an internal Google email sent by a software engineer just days before Oracle filed suit in 2010. Responding to a request by Google executives to look into technical alternatives to Java, engineer Tim Lindholm noted: “We’ve been over a bunch of these, and think they all suck. We conclude that we need to negotiate a license for Java under the terms we need.”

Google attorneys stressed in pre-trial court filings that the email conversation occurred only after Oracle threatened litigation, forcing Google to at least evaluate its alternatives, according to the Journal.

Jury selection will begin on Monday. Potential damages in the case dropped from $6.1 billion to around $1 billion after Google successfully narrowed the list of potentially infringing patents from seven to two.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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