It appears the inflation rate for six years of litigation is very high. Oracle just reassessed what it believes Google should pay for its use of Java, and it’s not pretty.
Back in August 2010, Oracle was seeking $2.6 billion in damages when it argued that Google used Java in its Android operating system without licensing certain parts of it. However, Oracle has increased its damages amount to $9.3 billion as this case goes to yet another trial in May.
Oracle’s recalculation is based on the growth that Android enjoyed over the years, which might have been more than anyone anticipated. Of the $9.3 billion total, about $8.3 million represents profits that Google made from Android. Next month’s trial will include all versions of Android up to Lollipop.
Oracle’s argument has always been that Google should have obtained a licence from Sun when it used Java for its Android operating system. Google says its use of Java is protected by “fair use,” meaning that developers can copy it under limited situations. Incidentally, Oracle bought Sun Microsystems in January 2010, about seven months before the suit was filed with Google.
This case has flip-flopped for nearly six years. In the original trial, a jury found that Google infringed Oracle’s copyright of 37 Java application programming interfaces (APIs). However, trial judge William Alsup ruled that APIs aren’t eligible for protection under U.S. copyright law, which almost ended it for Oracle. Of course the company appealed the decision and was able to get the ruling overturned. Google pushed for an appeal with the Supreme Court last year, but it declined to take the case.
This leads us to today. The case is headed back to Alsup’s court on May 9 to hopefully decide once and for all if Google’s use of Java was copyright infringement or fair use.
If you want a better perspective as to how much $9.3 billion would mean to Google, it’s parent company, Alphabet, made $4.9 billion in profit last quarter.
Google will likely argue for a much lower figure, but its damages report isn’t public yet. However, the Mountain View company might be thinking around $100 million based on a filing by Oracle last week.