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Category: Oracle

Google and Oracle CEOs set for face-to-face settlement talks

Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle

Chief executives Larry Page of Google and Larry Ellison of Oracle are set to sit down for face-to-face settlement talks regarding a patent dispute between the two companies over the Android operating system, according to a report.

The talks are to take place Monday, according to a court order from U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal filed Friday, according to a Dow Jones news report. Both Page and Ellison are also founders of their respective companies.

A trial over the patent dispute, which began last August when Oracle sued Google arguing that Android infringes on a number of its patents and copyrights relating to the use of its Java programming language in the operating system, is scheduled to begin in October, the report said. Officials at Google and Oracle were unavailable for comment Tuesday.

Oracle picked up the Java patents in 2009 when it purchased Sun Microsystems. In June, Oracle said it was seeking about $2.6 billion from Google in the patent suit. Earlier in June, a Google spokeswoman said "Oracle's 'methodology' for calculating damages is based on fundamental legal errors and improperly inflates their estimates."

In July, U.S. District Judge William Alsup criticized both companies over the patent suit, telling them that "you're both asking for the moon."

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Photo: Oracle CEO Larry Ellison speaks at Oracle Open World conference in San Francisco last year. Credit: Robert Galbraith / Reuters

Google accuses Apple, Microsoft of waging patent war

Google just tossed gas on the already heated patent wars over smart-phone technologies.

Google's top lawyer, David Drummond, on Wednesday called out its competitors, including Apple, Microsoft and Oracle, for waging what it calls "a hostile, organized campaign" designed to "strangle" the Internet search giant's Android mobile software, which now powers nearly 50% of the world's smart phones, according to some estimates.

T-Mobile G1 by HTC -- the first Android smartphoneIn an explosive blog post, "When Patents Attack Android," Drummond said he has worked in the technology sector for more than two decades, and "Microsoft and Apple have always been at each other's throats, so when they get into bed together you have to start wondering what's going on."

What's going on, he wrote, is that Google's rivals are trying to make Android phones harder for manufacturers to sell and more expensive for consumers to buy.

Drummond called attention to the coalition that Apple and Microsoft formed to buy Novell patents and Nortel patents. The "anti-competitive strategy" to buy patents has driven up prices, he said, predicting that "this patent bubble will pop." 

"Patents were meant to encourage innovation," Drummond wrote, "but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it."

He ended the post this way: "We're also looking at other ways to reduce the anti-competitive threats against Android by strengthening our own patent portfolio. Unless we act, consumers could face rising costs for Android devices -- and fewer choices for their next phone." 

Google is trying to buy patents to beef up its anemic patent portfolio. Its rivals outbid the company last month in the biggest patent auction in history, $4.5 billion for more than 6,000 patents and applications for wireless technologies purchased from the bankrupt Nortel. Published reports say the U.S. Justice Department is examining the sale to see whether it would harm competition in the smart-phone industry.

Google this week hired away one of the Federal Trade Commission's top patent lawyers. It also bought more than 1,000 patents from IBM Corp. to defend itself from an onslaught of patent-infringement litigation. It's embroiled in high-stakes patent litigation with Oracle. Oracle sued Google last year in federal court, claiming its Android mobile device software infringes Oracle's Java patents, which it picked up in 2010 when it bought Sun Microsystems Inc. Oracle is seeking billions of dollars in damages. The case is set for trial in October.

An Oracle spokeswoman declined to comment on Drummond's statements. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. A Microsoft spokeswoman declined to comment.

Said intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller: "The mobile phone sector is notoriously litigious. Unfortunately, it's a tough area for new entrants who don't have a strong patent portfolio." 

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Photo: The T-Mobile G1 Android-powered phone, the first phone powered by Android, in September 2008. Credit: Mark Lennihan / Associated Press 

Oracle can question Google's Larry Page in patent dispute

Google CEO Larry Page

Oracle will get its shot at questioning Google CEO Larry Page in the high-stakes -- and already very testy -- patent litigation that has pitted the two tech giants against each other. 

Oracle sued Google last year in federal court, claiming its Android mobile device software infringes on Oracle's Java patents, which it picked up in 2010 when it bought Sun Microsystems. Oracle is seeking billions of dollars in damages.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu issued an order late Thursday giving Oracle permission to depose Page for two hours about his knowledge of any alleged infringement of the patents. Google denies it infringed on the patents.

"Oracle may depose Mr. Page for a maximum of two hours, excluding breaks, solely on topics relevant to the willfulness of Defendant's alleged patent infringement, and the value of Android to the Defendant," the judge ruled.

Google had fought the request to have Oracle depose the Google co-founder, who took over as chief executive in April. But intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller predicted Oracle had a good chance of getting the request granted.

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Photo: Google Chief Executive Larry Page. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Judge criticizes Oracle, Google in patent dispute

Oracle Corp. and Google Inc. squared off in a high-stakes patent battle in federal court Thursday. Damages were the focus of the hearing that Reuters described as "testy."

And U.S. District Judge William Alsup unloaded on both companies, saying each was being unreasonable.

"You're both asking for the moon," Reuters quoted Alsup as saying.

Oracle sued Google last year alleging that the Internet search giant's Android mobile software infringes on Oracle's Java patents that it acquired along with Sun Microsystems last year. Oracle estimates that the damages top $6 billion.

Google contends Oracle should get nothing, a position that Alsup called "ridiculous."

The judge said he would issue an opinion soon.

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Oracle wants to question Google's Larry Page in Android patent lawsuit

Google CEO Larry Page

Wall Street got to question the usually reclusive Larry Page on Thursday.

Now Oracle Corp. wants its shot at questioning Google Inc.'s new chief executive in high-stakes patent litigation that has pitted the two tech giants against each other. 

Oracle sued Google last year in federal court, claiming its Android mobile device software infringes on Oracle's Java patents which it picked up in 2010 when it bought Sun Microsystems. Oracle is seeking billions of dollars in damages.


In a court filing Thursday, Oracle asked to take Page's deposition because he was the one who decided to buy the company that made the Android software and because he participated in negotiations between Sun Microsystems and Google and in later discussions with Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison.

Oracle also noted that Google has said it wants to depose Ellison.

Google is fighting the request to have Oracle depose the Google co-founder who took over as chief executive in April, saying it amounts to harassment. 

An Oracle spokeswoman declined to comment. A Google spokesman declined to comment.

"I believe Oracle has a pretty good chance because the judge presiding over the case has shown -- in a notice filed on Tuesday -- an exceptionally strong interest in exactly the issues on which Mr. Page could testify," wrote intellectual property analyst Florian Müller in a blog post. "According to Oracle, he was involved in Java licensing talks, and Google doesn't appear to dispute the fact of his involvement."

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Photo: Google Chief Executive Larry Page. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Apple, Microsoft group's $4.5-billion bid on Nortel patents approved by courts

Nortel

U.S. and Canadian judges in a bankruptcy court hearing approved the $4.5-billion purchase of more than 6,000 of Nortel's mobile tech patents to a group of buyers that includes Apple, Microsoft, Sony and three other companies Monday.

The clearance of the patent sell-off took place in a Delaware Bankruptcy Court hearing for Toronto-based Notrel Networks, according to a report from Reuters. The patents covered technologies used in phones and tablet computers, wireless 4G data transferring, data networking, optical technologies, voice, Internet, service provider, semiconductors and other patents many consider to be crucially important to the future of mobile computing.

The group that now owns the bundle of patents -- made up of Apple, Microsoft, Sony, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, EMC and Ericsson -- placed the winning bid after a 19-round auction. The biggest rival bidding on the patents was Google, but Intel placed bids as well.

Lisa Schweitzer, a lawyer representing Nortel in its bankruptcy process, said in court that the sale was "record breaking in terms of this case and in the patent industry generally," according to Reuters.

The purchase beefs up the patent portfolios of the winners and could put Google in a tough spot with its Android operating system.

Google is known for having one of the weaker patent portfolios in the mobile industry. That has left many competitors -- including Oracle and Microsoft -- seeking payments from the search giant over Android.

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Photo: A man walks past a Nortel sign at the company's office tower in Toronto in February 2009. Credit: Nathan Denette / The Canadian Press

Oracle seeks $2.6 billion in damages from Google

Android
Oracle Corp. is claiming $2.6 billion in damages from Google Inc., alleging that it infringed Oracle patents on the Java programming language and its use in the Android operating system.

In the latest filing in the case between the two California tech giants, Oracle revealed it was seeking  $0.9 billion to $1.4 billion upfront from Google for infringing its patents. The Redwood Shores, Calif., tech firm is also seeking 15% of the revenue Google receives from advertising on its mobile operating system.

Oracle filed its suit in August, claiming that Google's use of Java in its OS infringes a patent acquired from Sun Microsystems when Oracle purchased the company in 2009.

"Google repeatedly rejected the reasonable licensing terms that Sun offered and ultimately chose to willfully infringe Oracle’s intellectual property and release the Java-based Android platform," Oracle said in its filing.

Android has been used on more than 310 devices and now has the largest share of the smartphone market.

Google did not respond to a message seeking comment. Earlier this month, a spokeswoman for the company had said Oracle's damage claim was out of line.

"Oracle's 'methodology' for calculating damages is based on fundamental legal errors and improperly inflates their estimates," she said.

Oracle also did not respond to requests for comment.

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Photo: Models pose with HTC's Android smartphone EVO 4G Plus, center, and tablet Flyer 4G during a news conference in Seoul on June 23. Credit: Lee Jin-man / Associated Press

Oracle seeks billions of dollars from Google in Java patent lawsuit

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Oracle wants Google to pay damages "in the billions of dollars" for allegedly infringing on eight Oracle patents related to its Java programming language and how it's used in the Android operating system.

The Redwood, Calif., tech firm made clear it's seeking the massive sum from Google in a court filing Thursday in a lawsuit Oracle filed last fall.

In its complaint against Google, Oracle said that Android's use of Java infringes on Java patents that became property of Oracle when it took over Sun Microsystems in 2009. Sun is the company that created the Java language used by millions of open-source programmers worldwide.

Google's Android is the world's most popular mobile operating system, found on numerous phones and tablet computers around the world. Like Java, Android is open-source software.

A spokeswoman for Google said in an email that the billions sought by Oracle was out of line.

"Oracle's 'methodology' for calculating damages is based on fundamental legal errors and improperly inflates their estimates," she said.

Oracle representatives were unavailable to comment further about the Thursday filing.

In August, when Oracle filed its original complaint, Google said the suit was "baseless" and that its stance was that "the open-source Java community goes beyond any one corporation."

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Photo: South Korean models pose with Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S2 smartphone during its launch in Seoul on April 28, 2011. Credit: Jung Yeon-Je / AFP/Getty Images

HP sues former executive for alleged theft before he jumped to Oracle

Getprev
Hewlett-Packard is suing a former executive for allegedly stealing trade secrets before he took a job with HP rival Oracle.

Filed Wednesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court, the lawsuit alleged that Adrian Jones, a former HP senior vice president in Asia, stole proprietary information before he resigned in February and moved to Oracle (click here for court documents obtained by CRN).

An internal investigation at the time of his resignation uncovered that Jones failed to disclose a "close personal relationship" with a subordinate, gave that subordinate a 97% salary bump and expensed thousands of dollars spent visiting that person with no relevant business purpose, HP said.

Before he left, Jones copied "hundreds of files and thousands of e-mails" related to HP's business strategies, future plans, employee data and customer data, the suit said.

HP seeks an injunction from the court to prevent Jones from using the sensitive information to put the company at an "unfair competitive disadvantage."

This is the latest salvo in an increasingly acrimonious series of spats between tech giants HP and Oracle. Last year, Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems, an HP competitor in the server business. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison also mocked HP for firing former Chief Executive Mark Hurd for submitting faulty expense reports, then hired Hurd to work at Oracle.

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Photo: Larry Ellison, left, co-founder and CEO of Oracle, chats with Mark Hurd, former CEO of HP, during the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., on March 18. Credit: John Mabanglo / European Pressphoto Agency.

Does Google have a patent problem?

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Google said Monday it is bidding $900 million on the patent portfolio of Nortel, the bankrupt communications technology company.

The Internet search giant couched its bid as a preemptive strike to defend against patent litigation. It has often railed against frivolous patent lawsuits that it says stifle innovation. It has also fought for patent litigation reform.

"If successful, we hope this portfolio will not only create a disincentive for others to sue Google, but also help us, our partners and the open source community," Kent Walker, senior vice president and general counsel, wrote in a company blog post.

But Google is actually making a defensive –- and some say belated –- move to protect itself in what could become a major area of weakness, analysts say.

"Google has ignored the issue and has been a major laggard in patent ownership," said BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis. "Any way they can play catch up on patents, they need to."

He's not the only one who thinks so. Florian Mueller pointed that out here. And this ranking doesn't even put Google in the top 50.

Nowhere is Google's vulnerability more evident than in the patent and copyright infringement lawsuit that software giant Oracle brought against Google in August over the Android software that uses technology Oracle picked up when it bought Sun Microsystems.

Sun's Java lets developers write software that works on a variety of computers and systems and runs on mobile devices. Sun held thousands of patents but backed open-source sharing. It cut licensing deals for Java, but also offered free versions. It was often criticized for not making enough money from Java.

Oracle's Chief Executive Larry Ellison called Java "the single most important software asset we have ever acquired." Of all the executives in Silicon Valley, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt is more aware than most of the value of Java. He worked at Sun and led its Java development efforts before joining Google in 2001.

James Gosling, the father of Java, called Ellison, "Larry, Prince of Darkness," and did not join Oracle when it bought Sun. He joined, you guessed it, Google instead.

Patent fights are certainly becoming a major factor in mobile. Nokia's deal with Microsoft could help Nokia resolve its patent fight with Apple.

Nokia sued Apple over patent infringement in 2009, alleging that Apple used Nokia patents on wireless technologies like GSM in the iPhone. Apple countersued. But Microsoft has a longstanding partnership with Apple. It made a $150 million investment in the company in 1997 and a cross-licensing deal that has been renewed several times.

Analysts say Google cannot afford to mess around when it comes to Android, which is emerging as a valuable and crucial business. Android software is being used by handset makers and carriers as well as legions of software developers.

"It's a risk factor," Gillis said.

Nortel, the Canadian telephone-equipment maker that filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009, selected Google for a "stalking horse" agreement, Nortel said in a statement Monday. The sale will include patents and patent applications for wired, wireless and digital communications technology.

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Photo: The Google logo is seen at the Google headquarters in Brussels on March 23, 2010. Credit: Virginia Mayo/File/AP Photo

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