Google, Oracle CEOs Ordered Back to Android Settlement Table
Having failed to reach a settlement after a day of negotiation, the CEOs of Google and Oracle have been summoned to appear for a second round of talks to try to settle Oracle's patent-infringement lawsuit against Google over the use of Java in the Android mobile OS.
According to court filings, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal has called for the leaders of Oracle and Google to return to the U.S District Judge in San Jose, Calif., on Sept. 21 after the companies failed to come to agreement on a settlement during a day-long meeting on Sept. 19.
The battle of the Larrys-Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, and Larry Page, CEO of Google-might be viewed as a battle of good and evil, or at least the old guard versus the new. Ellison has been a swashbuckler of the technology industry, making his bones with a timely investment in a database platform and parlaying that into a series of acquisitions that continue to empower Oracle.
Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems gave rise to the current lawsuit, as Ellison, who has been around the block a time or two, saw fit to tax Google with a toll for allegedly tapping into Oracle's patented Java technology-acquired from Sun-without its permission. Ellison has proven in lawsuits that he is not afraid to mix it up in court, nor is he averse to calling on the government to scrutinize competitors when it is convenient.
Meanwhile, Google co-founder Page is known as a serious engineer and businessman, but is new to the CEO ranks, having stepped in as CEO in April after Eric Schmidt stepped down to become Google's executive chairman.
Florian Mueller, an intellectual-property analyst who has closely watched this case, said in a Sept. 19 blog post: "I believe there's a reasonable chance that Larry Page will show the strong leadership he's demonstrated since taking over the helm and make Larry Ellison an offer too good to refuse: a ton of money in exchange for a perpetual license. The side effect of encouraging other patent holders to expect similar payoffs is inevitable but not a reason not to do what needs to be done."
However, as yet there is no indication that any progress has been made toward a settlement. If the lineup of who showed up for the negotiations is any indicator, Google weighed in with more bodies. In addition to Page, there in attendance at the Sept. 19 meeting was David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, and Andy Rubin, Google's senior vice president of mobile, who oversees Android development, according to a court filing. A court filing also said Safra Catz, Oracle's president and chief financial officer, joined Ellison.
The two sides come to the negotiation from vastly different positions. Oracle has argued and had its expert assert that the database giant could be due as much as $6 billion in damages because of Google's use of Java. However, Google maintains that if it owes anything, it should be no more than $100 million.
Yet, "Google's chances of getting out of this lawsuit unscathed are rather slim," Mueller said. "Oracle probably wouldn't win a trial on all counts, but it's highly likely to win on at least some of them, and quite probably the counts on which Oracle would prevail would be powerful enough. However, Google has to think about the implications of any settlement of this particular litigation for its overall business."
Meanwhile, should the two sides fail to reach a settlement, the judge could order them to continue to meet to negotiate. However, if negotiations are eventually exhausted with no agreement, the case is set to go to trial at the end of October.