Oracle agrees to 'zero' damages in Google lawsuit, eyes appeal

Oracle waived its right to damages in order to conclude the trial and move on to its appeal

Oracle on Wednesday agreed to accept "zero" damages for the outstanding copyright infringement claims in its lawsuit against Google over its use of Java in Android.

Google was cleared last month of most of the infringement claims in Oracle's lawsuit, although it was found to have copied a few small portions of Oracle's Java code. The two sides met in court Wednesday to discuss any damages Oracle should receive for that.

Michael Jacobs, Oracle's lead attorney, told the judge that the companies had conferred and Oracle had agreed to accept "zero" damages for the infringement.

"Is there a catch I need to be aware of?" asked Judge William Alsup, who has been hearing the case.

The companies apparently want to conclude the case and move on to Oracle's appeal without any issues outstanding.

"The parties agreed we need to resolve the question of statutory damages now to resolve any outstanding issues in the final judgment," Jacobs told the judge.

Oracle's lawsuit, filed two years ago, accused Google of violating Java patents and copyrights in its Android operating system. The main issue at trial was whether Google had copied 37 of Oracle's Java APIs (application programming interfaces) in its Android OS. But the judge ruled in May that the APIs were not eligible for copyright protection under U.S. law. Meanwhile, the jury found that Google had not infringed Oracle's patents.

Google did copy a small portion of Oracle's Java code, the court found, but Oracle was eligible only for statutory damages for that copying, which were not expected to exceed a few hundred thousand dollars.

Oracle has said it will appeal its larger claims in the case, including whether its APIs can be copyrighted, to the Ninth Circuit appeals court.

When the case began, Oracle had been seeking up to US$6.1 billion in damages, but suffered setbacks when five of its patents were excluded before the trial began, and when Alsup decided its APIs could not be copyrighted. Wednesday's ruling means it walks away with nothing, pending its appeal.

Google also indicated Wednesday that it will seek to recover some of its legal costs in the case, since for the most part it prevailed at the trial. Jacobs indicated that Oracle will contest Google's request. Google has 14 days to file for the legal costs, and Alsup will decide whether it gets them.

The agreement over any outstanding damages means the companies have more or less agreed what the final judgment in the case will look like. The judgment basically lists the outcome of Oracle's various claims and is something of a formality.

Wednesday's hearing was relatively brief and amicable, far more relaxed than during the main portion of the trial that concluded last month.

"It seems out of character for us to have any short hearing in this case," Alsup said. He asked when he might see the parties back in court again.

"I hope we see you again after an appeal," Jacobs joked, getting laughter from the court. If Oracle prevails on its appeal, parts of the case may be returned to Alsup's court.

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James Niccolai

IDG News Service

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