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Oracle To Pay Google $1 Million For Lawyer Fees In Failed Patent Case 97

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the larry-ellison-still-owns-an-island dept.
eldavojohn writes "You may recall the news that Google would not be paying Oracle for Oracle's intellectual property claims against the search giant. Instead, Google requested $4.03 million for lawyer fees in the case. The judge denied some $2.9 million of those fees and instead settled on $1.13 million as an appropriate number for legal costs. Although this is relative peanuts to the two giants, Groklaw breaks the ruling down into more minute detail for anyone curious on what risks and repercussions are involved with patent trolling."
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Oracle To Pay Google $1 Million For Lawyer Fees In Failed Patent Case

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  • by Pecisk (688001) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @12:43PM (#41236207)

    Google, Larry, Google.

  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @12:54PM (#41236345)

    settled on $1.13 million

    Whoa... Oracle is going to have to sell like ONE extra enterprise edition license this month.

    I'm amazed that place is still able to charge what they do. Its like trying to make money "selling" a unix clone.

    • Re:Pocket change (Score:4, Informative)

      by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @02:04PM (#41237281) Homepage Journal

      Or else Larry can postpone his next yacht purchase [wikipedia.org] for a few weeks.

      There's a lot of free DBMS software out there, but Oracle's isn't a clone of it, any more than Windows is a clone of Linux. Oracle has a gigantic ecosystem of users who depend on the fact that there's a big pool of Oracle-trained developers out there. And of course a lot of users are locked in by having Oracle-based infrastructure that's taken them decades to develop. None of these are in a position to move to PostgreSQL, never mind MySQL.

      • Re:Pocket change (Score:4, Insightful)

        by viperidaenz (2515578) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @05:47PM (#41239993)
        You mean the MySQL that is owned by Oracle?
        • I'm guessing MySQL is a plot to make all the other free database packages look like pieces of shit. Guilt by association.

        • by fm6 (162816)

          And hey, guess how much money they make from licensing MySQL? Nothing. It's Open Source. Any money they make off it is by selling support — something anybody can do.

          • I'd say they make a fair amount from licensing MySQL Enterprise Edition. You know, the product that also includes closed-source scalability, security and management code.
            • by fm6 (162816)

              Well, if they sell licenses for it, they're keeping it a big secret. Go to the http://www.mysql.com/products/enterprise/ [mysql.com]>EE web page and click on "Buy Now". How many licensing options do you see? They're all support contracts.

              • Try click the "Try Now" button and reading the trial license.

                The rights granted to you under this Agreement expire at the end of the Trial Term. If you decide to use any of the Programs after the end of the Trial Term, you must acquire a license for each Program from Oracle.

                You can't download the enterprise edition software without accepting this license or buying a subscription. You know, like the $10k "MySQL Cluster Carrier Grade Edition Subscription" subscription.

                • by fm6 (162816)

                  Well OK, you're right the EE product as a whole. They've followed the common strategy of bundling an open source product with a bunch of proprietary tools. So you have to pay to license all those other tools. The database engine itself, however remains free.

                  Any, in our little mutual nitpick, we've both forgotten the point I was trying to make: that Oracle RDBMS users are probably too locked in to abandon it for a cheaper, open source DBMS.

      • by drkstr1 (2072368)
        Who the fuck designs a system around a specific hardware implementation? Hell, even in my personal projects i always abstract the data service layer. Just pay some interns (or junior devs) to pound out an adapter. Maybe a lot of these "locked in users" should have hired some actual software engineers, and they wouldn't be so locked in.
        • by fm6 (162816)

          Who said anything about hardware? Oracle DBMS is software. But I guess what you meant to say is "who the fuck designs a system around a specific backend database?"

          Well, if you start out with vendor agnostic training and your boss tell you not to get locked into a particular DBMS, then no, you don't. But suppose you have legacy systems that were first designed 35 years ago when Oracle was the only relational DBMS on the market? Or suppose you work for a company where PL/SQL is the preferred tool for building

          • by drkstr1 (2072368)

            Nah, any DBMS is "hardware" in my book. It's nothing more than a data storage and retrieval machine. :P

            But I do see your point that modern abstraction techniques are not as prevalent in legacy code, or poorly run shops, and this would indeed lead to vendor lock in. My original comment was more of a "why do people do that?" than arguing that it doesn't happen. I personally would never allow a direct call to the DB in the business logic layer, but to each their own I suppose.

            • by fm6 (162816)

              It occurs to me that somebody with your mindset would probably never use Oracle's RDBMS in the first place. People buy it for all the fancy features that come with it. If you use the engine through an abstraction layer, you're paying for a lot of stuff you're not using.

              Which is definitely not a criticism of your mindset! Modularity is good. But not everybody can be bothered with it.

              • by drkstr1 (2072368)
                A very fair point. It occurs to me as well, that one must "code to the metal" (so to speak) to get the most performance out of a system. To each their own, indeed. :-)
    • by jschmitz (607083)
      it is unreal - large organizations are slow to change - when they do - no more Oracle
  • Looks like you won't be buying the rest of Hawaii in the near future.

    QQ

    • by fm6 (162816)

      The Hawaiian island Larry bought cost $500 million [forbes.com]. $1 million is petty cash for this guy.

      • Re:Haha Larry (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @02:18PM (#41237471) Journal

        But a court slapdown that means Oracle loses any control of the Java language it asserted it had is a pretty major loss. Oracle's purchase of Sun is proving to be a pretty crappy investment all in all.

        • Re:Haha Larry (Score:5, Informative)

          by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @03:14PM (#41238069) Homepage Journal

          Sigh. I was working for Sun during most of the acquisition process, and I get so tired of hearing that the acquisition was about Java. Sun cost Oracle $5.6 billion. No way is a not very profitable piece of software worth that much.

          The one thing everybody knows about Sun is that they invented Java, so everybody takes it for granted that Java was an important profit center for Sun. It most assuredly was not. Most of Sun's income came from selling hardware. Oracle was promising to make billions moving Sun hardware through Oracle sales channels. This was plausible not only because Oracle's sales organization was huge (at the time, it employed more people than all of Sun), but because anybody who buys Oracle software also has to buy a computer to run it on.

          (I was so looking forward to working for Oracle; Sun middle management was a nasty combination of old hands who still thought that SPARC had a future and mindless bureaucrats who made bad decisions because it kept the paperwork tidy. Alas, the mindless bureaucrats decided I was a nuisance. Shouldn't have tried so hard to do good work for them.)

          This acquisition didn't work out, but that had nothing to do with Java. The problem is that the name-brand hardware is a dying business. HP is in trouble. Dell is in trouble. IBM isn't in trouble, but only because they've deemphasized hardware in favor of service. It's hard to tell if Lenovo is in trouble, because they're basically owned by the Chinese government, but it wouldn't surprise me.

          Name brand hardware can't compete with cheap generic hardware. Its only selling point is that it's more powerful and reliable than generic hardware. But if you're running a cloud-oriented data center, you don't care about power or reliability. You buy more systems to make up for the decreased power, and you set up the cloud so that unreliable systems don't impact overall reliability.

          Oracle's mistake was to try to become IBM at a time when IBM was following the more sensible course of becoming Oracle.

          • Re:Haha Larry (Score:5, Insightful)

            by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @03:26PM (#41238205) Journal

            If oracle could have got its claws into Android to extort some licensing fees, it would have done a helluva lot for the bottom line.

            • by fm6 (162816)

              Actually, Android is open source — no licensing fees. Google does make a fair amount from Google Play commissions and embedded advertising. A profitable business, but not one that would seriously affect their bottom line if it went away.

              • Yes I know Android is open source but one of Oracle's claims was that Google stole Oracle's IP when it developed Dalvik as a largely library and spec compatible variant of Java. If Oracle had succeeded Google would have been forced to pay damages and seek out a licensing agreement.

                • by fm6 (162816)

                  Which licensing agreement would be no more than a portion of Google's Android-related revenues. Which, as I've already pointed out, are not that big.

                  • ... or a dollar figure based on number of units shipped. Android is the biggest selling smartphone platform in the world.
                    • by fm6 (162816)

                      For which Google gets zero money. Zip. Nada. Read the rest of the thread.

                    • ... or a dollar figure based on number of units shipped

                      Most licensing agreements are not based on a % of revenue. You'll find its quite common to be a fixed number per unit. Its much easier to manage and much harder to get screwed over.

                    • by fm6 (162816)

                      Fine. Except Google doesn't ship any phones. They're all made by manufacturers who download and use Android, and aren't even obligated to ask permission first.

                      Well, maybe those Nexus phones count as "shipped by Google". So they'd owe a per-unit charge on the the 500 or so of those they've managed to sell. :)

                    • So you're telling me if I write some software that violates a million patents and give it away for free, a billion people can download and use it and nobody can get sued because I'm not selling it and the people downloading it aren't distributing it?
                    • by fm6 (162816)

                      Well, IANAL, but I think that's right. They might be able to force you to stop distributing the software, and they could sue all the people who use it.

                      Of course, that's a good basis for extortion. So maybe Mightymartian was right about Oracles motives, even if he was wrong about their being able to assess licensing fees.

                    • I fail to see how a patent holder enforcing their rights is extortion.
                    • by fm6 (162816)

                      It depends on whether you think the rights were fairly granted or not. Perhaps blackmail would be a better word.

              • by Ash Vince (602485) *

                Actually, Android is open source — no licensing fees

                Utter rubbish. There no licencing fees paid to Google but almost every handset manufacturer who sells Android phones has to pay a cut to Microsoft to licence certain patents.

                http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15427575 [bbc.co.uk]

                This is what Oracle were aiming for too, thankfully they failed. Nice try though.

                • by fm6 (162816)

                  But Oracle wasn't suing phone manufacturers. They were suing Google. And in the end, the suit wasn't even about patents, it was about copyrights on APIs.

                  Next time, think things through before you get snarky.

                  • by Ash Vince (602485) *

                    But Oracle wasn't suing phone manufacturers. They were suing Google. And in the end, the suit wasn't even about patents, it was about copyrights on APIs.

                    Next time, think things through before you get snarky.

                    I did think things through, you though did not.

                    In your original post that I replied to you said : "Actually, Android is open source — no licensing fees". That is simply not true as anyone using android does pay licencing fees, just not to Google. They pay them to MS instead but it is still a licencing fee as you are licencing a patented idea rather than the code.

                    Just because something is open source does not mean you do not have to pay a licence in order to use it as it may rely on ideas other people

          • by Greyfox (87712)
            All I remember from contracting at Sun was the guy one cube over from me who was constantly on the phone with someone talking about how he was a six sigma blackbelt and trying to organize conferences in island destinations. Oh yeah, and a getting stuck behind a group of engineers one day who were talking shit about the quality of open source software. Yeah guys, I've seen a lot of your software and none of it was anything to write home about. Maybe the Solaris kernel team crapped daisies and unicorns, but I
            • by fm6 (162816)

              Actually, between 1987 and 2007 Sun changed GUIs at least twice. When I first worked for them in 1997-98, Open Look was just getting phased out in favor of CDE. (And Sun employees who didn't want to switch were less than happy about it.) Not that either was a all that impressive. Actually, I came to loathe CDE.

              Then when I returned in 2005-06, they'd switched to Java Desktop, which was just a Sun branded version of GNOME. (And which had no connection with Java, beyond the branding.) An improvement over CDE,

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        The Hawaiian island Larry bought cost $500 million [forbes.com]. $1 million is petty cash for this guy.

        I'm not sure that buying a $500M island makes $1M "petty cash". I may own a $500K house (really own it, not bank owned), but I wouldn't count $1K as "petty cash".

        Of course, his $28B net worth does make $1M petty cash, that's more like $2 to someone earning $60K/year.

        Not that it matters anyway, it's not like Ellison is going to write a check from his personal account to pay a debt owed by Oracle.

        • by fm6 (162816)

          Lanai isn't analogous to your home. Larry doesn't live there, and (as you yourself point out) it represents a fraction of his net worth. So his being able to go out and buy a half-billion dollar property without worrying about whether it's worth the money (Lanai is kind of in trouble economically) does indeed make $1 million petty cash.

          • by hackula (2596247)
            When you have 28B, approximately 27.99B is petty cash.
            • by fm6 (162816)

              Gee, I dunno. Suppose you went around buying $200 million yachts and $500 million islands. Then you woke up one day and found you were down to your last $10 million. To a middle class American, you'd still seem absurdly rich (just as that middle class American seems absurdly rich to a Punjabi subsistence farmer). But hey, no more America's Cup sponsership. You'll need to sell your Gulfstream V (Larry's is worth $40 million) for working capital, and make do with a smaller private jet, probably one that can'

        • Of course, his $28B net worth does make $1M petty cash, that's more like $2 to someone earning $60K/year.

          It would be if "net worth" and "annual income" were the same thing, which they aren't.

  • Patents (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GeneralTurgidson (2464452) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @12:57PM (#41236385)
    The bailout for the lawyer industry.
    • by fm6 (162816)

      RTFA, This was about copyrights, not patents.

      • Re:Patents (Score:5, Informative)

        by icebike (68054) * on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @01:59PM (#41237233)

        Ah, no.
        The process from beginning to nearly the end was about patents. Google ended up getting virtually all of them invalidated, and Oracle tried to fall back on copyright.
        Go read Groklaw [groklaw.net]:

        Oracle initially alleged infringement of seven patents and 132 claims but each claim ultimately was either dismissed with prejudice or found to be non-infringed by the jury. ... Oracle’s first damages report barely mentioned copyright claims), ... but instead fell back on an overreaching (albeit somewhat novel) theory of copyright infringement for its own financial interests late in litigation.

      • by jbov (2202938)

        RTFA, This was about copyrights, not patents.

        RTFA. The lawsuit in its entirety was about both.
        The GP's was attempting to be funny. The choice of the word "patents" does nothing to detract from the message. Your attempt at nitpicking a humorous post is pretentious.

        • by fm6 (162816)

          Deflating a joke is not pretentious when the joke is stupid and ignorant.

          This joke derives its humor from the Greedy Lawyers meme, which I consider supremely stupid. Americans sue each other at the drop of a hat (literally! [fastcase.com]) and we make fun of lawyers for cashing in?

          Anyway, the distinction between copyrights and patents is important (and I still think this specific judgment was about copyrights, even if the larger case originally involved patents) and there's nothing nitpicky about pointing out the differen

          • by jbov (2202938)

            Deflating a joke is not pretentious when the joke is stupid and ignorant.

            How you chose to do it is pretentious. Why not just explain that you feel the joke is stupid and ignorant?

            This joke derives its humor from the Greedy Lawyers meme, which I consider supremely stupid. Americans sue each other at the drop of a hat (literally! [fastcase.com]) and we make fun of lawyers for cashing in?

            Maybe you don't understand the greedy lawyers meme. It goes something like this. Plaintiffs seek damages. Lawyers inflate damages. Lawyers charge plaintiff exorbitant sums of money. Lawyers get rich. For example, when a small company sued RIM for patent infringement, the company was awarded $612.5 million. The law firm received over $200 million of this.

            Anyway, the distinction between copyrights and patents is important (and I still think this specific judgment was about copyrights, even if the larger case originally involved patents) and there's nothing nitpicky about pointing out the difference.

            The distinction between copyrights and patents is

  • by Freshly Exhumed (105597) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @01:07PM (#41236495) Homepage

    Florian Mueller predicted this perfectly except that the other side won.

    • by icebike (68054) * on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @01:34PM (#41236895)

      Yes, its amazing just how many bloggers are running away from their predictions:

      It's all but said and done that Oracle is going to have some kind of pay day. During a court hearing last July, Judge Alsup admitted that Google is definitely going to pay up "probably in the millions, maybe in the billions" at some point.

      Rachel King [zdnet.com] April 16, 2012.

      SF Gate [sfgate.com], on the other hand pretty much predicted this outcome just 9 days later on April 25, 2012:

      The remarkable thing is that, when the dust settles, five of the seven patents Oracle claimed that Google violated will likely be overturned because Google forced the patent office to take a second look. ...
      If only two of Oracle's patents hold up on review, that means the patent office got it right less than 30 percent of the time, an average we have every reason to believe is representative of the entire sector's patents. In fact, software patent holders lose nearly 90 percent of the time in litigation, Stanford law Professor Mark Lemley found in a research paper published last year.

      The courts would do best if they just struck down software patents again [forbes.com], as they have done three times in the past.

      Even the output from software should not be patentable (slide to unlock).

    • He's the Reverse Oracle, as prophesied by the great Elrond Hubbard of Scientology fame!

      Truly the end times are upon us, I think I can see Nibiru from my cubicle!

  • The patent troll is trolled.

  • Judge substatntially reduced the award after Google's lawyers were shown to have been playing Angry Birds during plaintiff's closing argument.
  • Oracle could lose that and not notice. So I'm not sure why people are laughing. I'm sure they don't want to pay purely because it's a reminder they lost but that amount won't break the bank.

    In fact that's half the problem. It's no wonder these corporation sue each other so much when it's so cheap.
    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      One billion from Samsung isn't chump change.
      • It's not chump change, but I think most people fail to realize that the Samsung corporation is much more than just Samsung Electronics, the TV, cellphone and electronic gadget maker.. This link should give people an idea of how big Samsung really is. [wikipedia.org]

        A billion, while it hurts, doesn't hurt all that bad.
        • Re:pocket change (Score:5, Interesting)

          by icebike (68054) * on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @02:54PM (#41237839)

          The other thing to realize is that Samsung is one of Apple's biggest suppliers, and one that Apple can't avoid.

          Simply by imposing the industry standard cost escalator contract clause they recoup the entire Billion in one year from Apple.
          Piss Samsung off too badly, and "shortages" could develop.

          Apple still needs Samsung, but Samsung has a wealth of customers these days.

          • by symbolset (646467) *
            With how well samsung's own devices are selling they may just want those part production capacities for their own high-margin products instead of the slim margins Apple pays for parts.
          • And I doubt their manufacturing half is going to lose money to show their allegiance to the mobile side. Not to mention it'd be dumb to think there aren't contracts in place. Whether anyone likes Apple or not, no they don't need samsung. It's Apple designed chips and any monkey can take their instructions and build the chip. I believe in fact they were looking around at other suppliers for processors and screens already. Like any other business they're always looking for ways to minimise costs to fill their
            • by icebike (68054) *

              The manufacturing side owe their allegiance to the same people the mobile side does.

              And no, Apple does not design the majority of chips that are in their phones. Only the processor, and NO again, not just anybody can make those chips. Apple doesn't own a single fab.

              Yes there are contracts in place. (You got one thing right). But all industrial contract have cost escalation clauses for things that are beyond their control.

        • Re:pocket change (Score:4, Informative)

          by viperidaenz (2515578) on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @07:06PM (#41240979)
          Exactly. Samsung is huge
          Apple Revenue: 108b. Samsung: 247b
          Apple Assets: 116b. Samsung: 348b
          Apple Equity: 76b. Samsung: 224b
          Apple Employees: 60k. Samsung: 344k
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572)

      Where do you entitled fucking whores come from? "Oh they're big companies, they have the money" fuck, I remember a jury deliberating over an insurance company suit with some woman who was obviously off her nut. The jury agreed that she had no case and was just trolling for money, but well... she was trying to buy a house, could use the money... they decided to give it to her because the insurance company didn't need it anyway, they're rich.

      From each according to his ability, to each according to his need [wikipedia.org]

      • The problem is that you have no fucking idea of the real disparity, while you cry about the poor corporations. $50? You wish.

        Last quarter, Oracle earnings (not revenue) was $3.45 Billion dollars. That's 1.15 Billion per month.

        Comparitively, the average household member in the US makes $26000 per year.

        If you do the math, the equivalent of $1 million to Oracle is less than 2 bucks for the average person.

        You're just too blind to see the obscene inequality.

        • And where do all these "earnings" go? Is there a giant bank account that grows indefinitely? Does Oracle not need liquid capital to, oh I don't know, supply a stable budget for hiring new engineers and branching out new departments?

          Oracle is a big business. How many employees does it have? How much shit does it produce?

          Do you make more than $26000? Maybe you should give some of that to me, you're rich.

          • And where do all these "earnings" go? Is there a giant bank account that grows indefinitely? Does Oracle not need liquid capital to, oh I don't know, supply a stable budget for hiring new engineers and branching out new departments?

            Sure, and regular people need money to eat. That doesn't mean that $2 isn't pocket money.

            Do you make more than $26000? Maybe you should give some of that to me, you're rich.

            I wish. Not even half of that. But I still give more $2 rather freely. Not to corporate apologists, though.

  • Google asked for $4 million. Of that, $3 million was for electronic discovery [wikipedia.org], which the judge disallowed. Groklaw says that it's usual for a claim to be reduced, but that doesn't explain why he disallowed this particular cost.

    Electronic discovery is basically about using advanced software to do forensic analysis of discovery documents. I find it really interesting that Google spent three times as much on this as they spent on paying lawyers to actually argue the case.

    • Re:Ediscovery! (Score:5, Informative)

      by icebike (68054) * on Wednesday September 05, 2012 @02:11PM (#41237379)

      Google asked for $4 million. Of that, $3 million was for electronic discovery [wikipedia.org], which the judge disallowed. Groklaw says that it's usual for a claim to be reduced, but that doesn't explain why he disallowed this particular cost.

      Electronic discovery is basically about using advanced software to do forensic analysis of discovery documents. I find it really interesting that Google spent three times as much on this as they spent on paying lawyers to actually argue the case.

      Actually Groklaw does explain why the e-discovery costs were denied:

      However, “fees for exemplification and copying are permitted only for the physical preparation and duplication of documents, not the intellectual effort involved in their production.” ...
      The problem with Google’s e-discovery bill of costs is that many of item-line descriptions seemingly bill for “intellectual effort” such as organizing, searching, and analyzing the discovery documents.

      They made a billing error. They tried to bill consultant "think" time as document prep time.

      Had they done this work with lawyers they may have been able to bill it, but on the other hand by doing it with researchers and analysts the actually prevailed where it is less likely lawyers alone would have done so, not being specialists in this particular type of research. I suspect Google will take that outcome any day.

      • by fm6 (162816)

        Too bad this isn't Stackoverflow. Then I could give you a "good answer" upmod.

    • by ccguy (1116865)

      I find it really interesting that Google spent three times as much on this as they spent on paying lawyers to actually argue the case.

      Being google maybe they decided to write the software in-house with a few well paid developers.

    • by Zordak (123132)
      Discovery in a big case typically far exceeds the cost of the actual trial.
      • by fm6 (162816)

        And yet you can't recover costs for it?

        I keep getting reminded of that New Yorker cartoon where the lawyer is talking to a potential client. "I reviewed your documents and believe you have a very good case. What you need to decide now is this: exactly how much justice can you afford?"

    • Groklaw says that it's usual for a claim to be reduced, but that doesn't explain why he disallowed this particular cost.

      This is addressed in the text of the order, which is presented in the Groklaw piece:

      4. E-DISCOVERY COSTS.

      Google's bill of costs seeks nearly three million dollars in fees incurred by e-discovery vendor, FTI Consulting, Inc. Oracle objects.

      Pursuant to Section 1920, the Court may tax "fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily ob

  • You can encourage clear thinking, and avoid gratuitous confusion, by
    shunning the term "intellectual property" when you write about this
    case.

    This case is about one specific law -- patent law. The term
    "intellectual property" identifies that law with a dozen or so
    unrelated disparate laws, which have nothing in common in practice.
    They don't work the same, and their good or bad effects are different
    too. The only way to understand any of them is to keep them mentally
    separate. You can help readers do that by no

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