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Oracle seeking billions from Google over Java infringement

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Last August, Oracle filed suit against Google claiming the company’s Android operating system infringed on Java patents and copyright. This week, for the first time, Oracle has started to lay out the amount of damages it is seeking in the case—and according to a court filing this week, the amount is in “the billions of dollars.”

Google’s Android operating system includes the Dalvik virtual machine, a Java-compatible system that was developed independently of Sun’s Java virtual machine—both enable computers to run Java software. Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in 2009, and is now pursuing Google for infringement, claiming the Dalvik VM infringes on patents the company acquired along with Sun. Oracle also alleges Google was fully aware of the Sun patents, and even hired some of Sun’s Java engineers.

In a letter to the court earlier this month, Google characterizes Oracle’s damages claims as inflated and inaccurate, since Google believes they are based on legal errors. According to Reuters, Google described Oracle’s claim of billions in damages as “unreliable and results-oriented.”

In an unusual move for a company that prides itself on transparency, Google asked the court to keep particular details of Oracles’ damages claim private; however, the judge in the case has ordered Google to publicly reveal information on damages for the record today.

The amount of damages being sought in the case can be significant: if a potential judgment in the billions of dollars is hovering over the future of Android, it may dissuade developers and hardware makers from continuing to embrace the platform since, if Google is found liable, it may have little choice but to pass that cost down to others. A finding in favor of Oracle would also likely see Oracle earning a royalty on every Android device sold—a burden on Android’s “open” platform and an ongoing cost that would likely be passed along to consumers.

Neither Oracle nor Google have so far responded to a request for comment.

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