updated 11:15 am EST, Tue December 27, 2011
USPTO gives Google a break on key patent
The US Patent and Trademark Office gave Google a rare break late last week in further scaling back Oracle's limited patent claims in a lawsuit over Android's code. A total of 17 of the 21 claims of the patent were rejected, including one claim that Oracle had been leveling against Google. Oracle has until February 20 to challenge the rejection.
Oracle has already had some of its damage claims dismissed and may see dialed back some of its expectations of billions of dollars in Java-related patent royalties.
The patent rejection is still unlikely to help Google completely avoid some payout, whether damages or a settlement. Oracle is allowed to use Google's e-mail admitting patent concerns and ma essentially have surefire evidence that Google knew it ought to have paid Sun for a license, and later Oracle, but ignored it.
Depending on any terms of a conclusive verdict, Google may have a harder time giving away Android for free. Microsoft has accused Google of price dumping much as Microsoft itself did with Internet Explorer in the 1990s, where in either case a company uses its dominance in one area to give away something else for free to undercut rivals that have to charge. [via Groklaw]