Google Objects to Oracle’s $8.8 Billion Claim for Java Trial

  • Google faults court-appointed damages expert James Kearl
  • Oracle sought to disqualify Kearl last year as too pro-Google

Google objected to Oracle Corp.’s bid for $8.8 billion in damages in their court battle over the Java programming language that’s set to go to a jury in May.

In a 5 1/2-year-old lawsuit alleging that Google’s Android infringed Oracle’s copyrights for Java software, the database maker is pegging its damages demand on how much the search engine company has earned from its mobile operating system.

Google said in a court filing Wednesday that its own hired expert “strongly disagrees” with Oracle’s damages assessment. Google also took issue with opinions submitted by the economics professor hired by the judge handling the case to act as an independent expert. The professor accepted Oracle’s damages theory “at face value” and used it “as a basis for offering an extremely broad range of potential amounts of disgorgement of Google’s Android-related profits,” Google said.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google asked U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco, who has scheduled a monthlong trial starting May 9, to disregard the findings of Brigham Young University professor James Kearl “as unreliable opinion testimony that is divorced from the guidance of copyright law, and is highly likely to mislead and confuse” jurors.

Oracle urged Alsup to ignore Google’s request, arguing in a filing that the company was attempting to bend rules imposed by the court limiting such arguments. 

Oracle tried in November to get Kearl removed from the case, saying he showed himself to be partial to Google when he testified in 2014 for Samsung Electronics Co. South Korea-based Samsung, which makes smartphones powered by Google’s Android system, was embroiled in litigation over claims it infringed Apple Inc.’s patents.

Alsup, who appointed Kearl in 2011 because the judge didn’t trust either company to give him a straight assessment, rejected Oracle’s request.

Oracle accuses Google of using Java without paying for it because the Internet giant was in a rush to create Android, now the world’s most popular smartphone platform. When the case first went to a jury in 2012, Alsup set aside the panel’s finding that Google infringed Oracle’s copyrights.

Now, after pit stops at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the Supreme Court, the case has returned for another trial. This time, jurors must decide whether Google was free to rely on Oracle’s copyrighted code without permission under a legal doctrine called ’“fair use.”

Oracle’s $1.3 billion jury verdict against rival SAP AG in 2010 was then the largest-ever award in a copyright infringement case. The case later settled for $359 million.

The case is Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., 10-cv-03561, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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