Lawsuits, as we already all know, can be very expensive indeed. How expensive, you may be wondering? Well, let’s take a look at the recent Oracle vs. Google lawsuit for a good – if somewhat surreal – guide to such things. As you may remember, Oracle had sued Google for patent and copyright infringement concerning APIs related to Google’s Android OS; the lawsuit was eventually ruled in Google’s favor, with a judge even going so far as to announce that the API structures that Oracle was claiming ownership to couldn’t actually be copyrighted after all.
Cut to the present day, and Google taking advantage of the rules of Federal Court that allow for the “prevailing party” in lawsuits to recover legal costs for the entire thing, absent attorney’s fees (Those are occasionally recoverable, but normally only in cases where the other side has been proven to have engaged in some kind of legal misconduct, which clearly wasn’t the case here). In realistic terms, that means that Google is allowed to ask for costs relating to things like deposition of witnesses, the creation of and annotation of transcripts, document- and other information gathering, and other such necessary ingredients to the preparation of a lawsuit. Given that the legal battle between Google and Oracle lasted all of six weeks, what kind of amount would you estimate Google would ask for?
Those who said “Just over $4,000,000,” give yourself a pat on the back.
In papers filed yesterday, the search giant asked for $4,030,000 in costs from the trial. For the curious, that amount breaks down in the following manner:
- $2.9 million for the processing and duplicating of documents
- $987,000 to pay for the court-appointed damages expert (One half of the expert’s entire fee; Oracle pays the other half)
- $143,000 for transcript costs
Everyone who finds themselves wondering whether that transcript cost seems high, here’re some further details that might help you figure that out: According to Google, sixty witnesses were deposed in preparation for the trial, with many deposed more than once. Making an assumption that there was somewhere in the region of 100 depositions carried out, that puts the cost per deposition at $1,430 – which almost seems somewhat reasonable, if you consider how long such depositions could range (That said, I am still giving serious though about getting into the transcript business).
The $2,900,000 in processing and duplicating of documents was further broken down by the company: “More than” 86 sources produced more than 97 million documents for the case, with an outside firm – FTI Inc. – retained to search through said documents for pertinent material, which were then transferred to TIFF format for use by Oracle. In total, Google shared more than 3.3 million documents, for a total in the region of 20 million pages.
Of course, that $4,030,000 figure doesn’t include lawyer fees, remember; those are estimated in the tens of millions. So, how much does a lawsuit cost, even if you win? The answer is clearly a lot of money.