Android expenses questioned at Oracle copyright trial
SAN FRANCISCO — Jurors on Thursday continued to weigh whether Android infringed on Java copyrights as the trial judge ordered Google to clarify how much money has been made or lost on the mobile gadget software.
The order in the case pitting Internet titan Google against business software giant Oracle came after the judge fielded a question from the jury, which began deliberations on Monday in San Francisco federal court.
With the jury out of the courtroom, Oracle lawyers challenged a Google document indicating that Android expenses more than wiped out the “product contribution” to revenue through 2010 and well into 2011.
“We are talking about huge numbers here,” US District Court Judge William Alsup said while considering whether jurors should be able to rely on the document in the event of a damages phase to the trial.
“If the jury finds liability, $600 million could turn on whether the jury believes these numbers are good.”
Alsup gave Google until Monday to provide reliable accounting paperwork itemizing how Android profit-and-loss figures were calculated and wanted the person handling the numbers deposed.
“If that was the way it was done in the actual course of business, fine, that can go before the jury,” Alsup said of the financial figures.
If it is shown Android has been a money loser for Google, there would be no profits to “disgorge” as demanded by Oracle, the judge noted.
The trial is being conducted in separate phases to address copyright and then patent infringement accusations by Oracle. The patent portion is to begin on Monday, unless the jury has not finished deliberations regarding copyright.
Oracle is accusing Google of infringing on Java computer programming language patents and copyrights Oracle obtained when it bought Java inventor Sun Microsystems in a $7.4 billion deal brokered in 2009.
Google has denied the claims and said it believes mobile phone makers and other users of its open-source Android operating system are entitled to use the Java technology in dispute.
Google unveiled the free Android operating system two years before Oracle bought Sun.
Protecting and profiting from Java software technology were prime reasons for Oracle’s decision in 2009 to buy Sun, according to evidence presented at trial.
Part of the Google defense is that Oracle couldn’t figure out a way into the smartphone market so is trying to leech off of Android’s success by pressing claims regarding Java software that Sun made publicly available.