Google & Oracle Deny Paying Writers to Cover Tech Trial

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Responding to a judge’s order to divulge the names of writers paid to cover their highly publicized trial, Oracle named one blogger on its payroll as a consultant, and Google named no one.
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     On Aug. 7, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ordered the two tech giants to identify anyone they paid to report on the copyright and patent infringement fight, saying he was “concerned      that the parties and/or counsel herein may have retained or paid print or internet authors, journalists, commentators or bloggers who have and/or may publish comments on the issues in this case.”
     Oracle said it hired FOSS patent blogger Florian Mueller “as a consultant on competition-related matters” after the case began, though the company quickly added that Mueller “was not retained to write about the case.”
     It also pointed out that Mueller “is a frequent critic of Oracle and was a leading advocate against Oracle’s acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Inc., which led to Oracle’s ownership of Sun’s Java IP portfolio.”
     Oracle attorney Michael Jacobs of Morrison & Foerster also noted that Oracle employees may have blogged about the case, but said the company “did not ask or approve any of its employees to write about the case and does not track employee bloggers.”
     Oracle also named Stanford professor Paul Goldstein “out of an abundance of caution,” but noted that the “Goldstein on Copyright” author has not commented on the lawsuit.
     Google attorney Robert Van Nest of Keker & Van Nest in San Francisco told Alsup that neither Google nor its counsel paid anybody to report on the case.
     However, he acknowledged the possibility “that any number of individuals or organizations, including those with indirect or attenuated financial connections with the parties, might have expressed views regarding this case.”
     Google offered the judge “general categories of individuals and organizations” and asked for “further guidance as to whether it would be useful for Google to provide more details or attempt to compile a more comprehensive list.”
     Touting its philanthropy and affiliations with education, political organizations and trade associations, Google said it’s aware that some of these organizations “may have elected to comment on the case.”
     Google’s attorney also said it’s possible that members of its AdSense program and any number of its employees, vendors or contractors may have commented on the case. He said expert consultants and witness identified for trial have also commented publicly on the case.
     “It would be extraordinarily difficult and perhaps impossible for Google to identify all individuals who have commented on the issues in the case and who are affiliated with one of these organizations,” Van Nest wrote.
     In its response to Alsup’s order, Oracle pointed fingers at Google, claiming the Internet search giant paid writers to “help shape public perceptions concerning the positions it was advocating throughout this trial.” It also accused Google of maintaining “a network of direct and indirect ‘influencers’ to advance Google’s intellectual property agenda.”
     “This network is extensive, including attorneys, lobbyists, trade associations, academics and bloggers, and its focus extends beyond pure intellectual property issues to competition/antitrust issues,” Oracle wrote.
     Oracle pointed Alsup to two prominent examples of Google’s alleged influence on the case.
     According to Oracle, the president and CEO of Computer and Communications Industry Association President – which Oracle claims is funded in large part by Google – has written specifically on the issue of copyrightability of application programming interfaces (APIs). Oracle originally accused Google of stealing 137 of its Java APIs to develop the Android operating system.
     In May, a jury found that Google copied the APIs, but failed to agree on whether the copying constituted fair use. Judge Alsup ruled that APIs are not copyrightable a month later.
     Oracle also said Friday that Google has an “indirect relationship” with Jonathan Band, who co-authored the book “Interfaces on Trial 2.0” through Google-supported trade associations, but failed to offer any evidence that either Black or Band published anything related to the trial while litigation was going on.
     So far, it’s unclear what Alsup intends to do with the tech companies’ statements.
     A hearing on Google’s demand that Oracle pay more than $4 million for litigation costs is set for Aug. 23, though the judge has issued his last several decisions in the case from the bench without a hearing.

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