Google disputes damages estimate in Oracle case

The search giant asks the court to throw out the damages estimate from an expert witness

Google has asked a California court to throw out the testimony of an expert witness who said Google should pay Oracle as much as US$6 billion for allegedly infringing on Java patents and copyright.

"His methodology is grounded only in a desire to maximize Oracle's damages," Google wrote in its request to dismiss testimony given by Iain Cockburn, the Boston University professor Oracle called as a damages expert.

The case, filed last year in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, centers on Google's alleged use of Oracle patents in the virtual machine it built to run Java apps in Android devices. Since Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems, it now controls the use of Java.

Earlier this year, Cockburn estimated that Google would owe Oracle between $1.4 billion and $6.1 billion if it were found to infringe on Oracle's Java patents. In June, Google sent a letter to the court suggesting that it would dispute the damages estimate.

On Tuesday, Google laid out in more detail a number of issues it sees with Cockburn's estimates, including that he based his estimates on Google's gains from Android as a whole, rather than from just the alleged infringing technology.

He also includes Google's Android advertising revenue even though Oracle doesn't allege that Google ads infringe the relevant patents, Google wrote in the filing.

Google also argues that Oracle's purchase price for Sun -- $7.4 billion -- proves that the relevant patents can't be as valuable as the upper estimate that Cockburn suggests Google owes. "Sun was much bigger than 'Java,' and ... the patents and copyrights at issue here are a small part of 'Java.' Cockburn's estimate would allow Oracle to substantially finance its entire acquisition of Sun," Google wrote.

In fact, Google says that in early 2010, Oracle valued all of Sun's software-related core technology, which would include more than Java, at $68.8 million.

Google also argues that Cockburn calculated damages through the end of 2025 even though six of the seven relevant patents expire in 2018 or earlier and that Cockburn counted international revenue while the law only allows for the recovery of damages for domestic infringement.

This dispute could drag on for years if both companies believe they can win and if they decide to appeal verdicts. The ramifications are significant for both companies, particularly if Oracle wins. In that case, Oracle stands to gain billions of dollars in revenue each year from licensing agreements. If Google is required to pay for each instance of Android in use and if it passes that cost onto handset makers, it could see Android's momentum slow.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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Tags Googleconsumer electronicscopyrightintellectual propertylegalAndroidpatentsmartphonesOracle

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Nancy Gohring

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