Bloomberg News

Oracle Trial With Google Over Java Patents Is Postponed

October 19, 2011

(Updates with expert’s report in eighth paragraph.)

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- A judge postponed an Oct. 31 trial over Oracle Corp.’s claims that Google Inc.’s Android software infringed patents on the Java programming language.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco vacated the scheduled trial date, saying it conflicts with a criminal gang case in his courtroom that will continue through January. He asked lawyers for Oracle and Google to consent to a trial before a magistrate judge. If they don’t agree, Alsup said he’s considering “swapping the case to another federal judge,” and the companies will have no right to object.

“I have not been so overworked in 37 years of professional life,” Alsup said. The hearing concluded today with no new trial date scheduled.

Oracle is seeking at least $1 billion in damages from the operator of the world’s largest search engine. Oracle, based in Redwood City, California, accuses Google of infringing its Java patents and copyrights in the Android operating system, now running on more than 150 million mobile devices.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, has denied the claims.

The judge gave the lawyers a chance today to argue whether the copyright and patent claims in the case should be split into two trials. Alsup said he favors having the copyright issues decided in the first trial.

‘A Settlement’

“Maybe the jury would say there is no liability, then there may be a settlement,” he said. “Maybe they would say there is a huge liability and there might be a settlement. I’m seeking some formula like that.”

The judge said an expert he appointed to review damages calculations by both sides should submit his initial report on Nov. 14, to be followed by a more in-depth independent analysis three months from today.

Alsup made no decision today on Google’s bid to exclude as evidence an employee’s e-mail saying the company should negotiate a license for Java.

Google said the e-mail was mistakenly provided to Oracle during pre-trial document exchanges and should be kept secret under a law protecting communications between attorneys and their clients.

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

--Editors: Stephen Farr, Peter Blumberg

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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