updated 11:40 pm EDT, Fri March 23, 2012
Oracle and Google may be made to settle faster
Oracle and Google may be pressed into settling a lawsuit over Java patents faster after Judge Paul Grewal ordered more settlement talks. Despite having dramatically lowered damages earlier in the week, at least Google's mobile VP Andy Rubin and Oracle CFO Safra Catz would have to meet before April 9. The sides had to choose a date and were encouraged to be as flexible as possible.
With a trial start just weeks away, it's unclear why Judge Grewal pressed for more settlement talks from sides mutually unwilling to compromise. He had tried this months earlier, only to watch the two sides reach an impasse. The choice may be an experiment to see if the newly lowered damages, as low as $32.3 million, either ease negotiations overall or see Google agree to settle some of the dispute, shortening the actual trial phase.
Oracle's lawsuit, which alleges that Google knowingly violated patents and copyrights in Java when building Android, has seen much of its initial threat whittled down in pre-trial hearings. At one point, it wanted $2.6 billion or more through both one-time payments and ongoing royalties. Google might not escape a royalty rate, but it will now likely pay under $100 million for any lump sum. High payments could have seen it either swallow costs and cut its profits substantially or else pass costs along to phone and tablet builders.
The Oracle lawsuit is one of the few, if not only, direct lawsuits against Google over Android. Apple and Microsoft are commonly known to be targeting Google in practice, but Google's free-to-license model has meant they have had to sue hardware producers like HTC and Samsung as the ones profiting from any supposed Android patent violations. [via Florian Mueller]