Google to Recover Some Court Costs From Oracle

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Google came out on top again in its seesaw copyright battle with Oracle as a federal judge handed the company $1 million in legal fees.
     Oracle sued Google for copyright and patent infringement in 2010, weeks after acquiring the Java platform through its purchased of Sun Microsystems. Oracle had claimed that Google copied parts of Java to rush production of its Android operating system and give Apple some competition in the smartphone market.
     Though a jury found that Google copied some parts of the Java program – called application programming interfaces, or APIs – U.S. District Judge William Alsup later decided that APIs are not copyrightable at all.
     Google also ducked patent-infringement claims in another phase of the trial.
     Fashioning itself the victor in the murky litigation, Google then demanded that Oracle pay $4 million in legal fees, including a nearly $3 million e-discovery bill.
     Alsup agreed to some of Google’s demands Tuesday.
     “Google was the prevailing party in this action,” Alsup wrote. “Oracle initially sought $6 billion in damages and injunctive relief but recovered nothing after nearly two years of litigation and six weeks of trial. 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 also lost on its primary copyright claim for Java APIs. While it is true that Oracle prevailed on two minor, peripheral copyright claims, this win has not materially altered the legal relationship among the parties.”
     Alsup continued: “Oracle has failed to overcome the presumption of awarding costs to Google. The judgment, although technically mixed, was overwhelmingly in favor of Google. … While it is true that a copyright issue presented, copyrightability of APIs, was of great importance to the computer industry, this is not enough to deny costs. The media attention following this case was due in large part because Oracle crafted broad, and ultimately overreaching, claims of copyright infringement.”
     Alsup ordered Oracle to pay $1 million for the work of court-appointed expert Dr. James Kearl, but declined Google’s request for $2,900,349 in vendor-billed e-discovery costs.
     “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,” Alsup wrote.
     “Most egregious are attempts to bill costs for ‘conferencing,’ ‘prepare for and participate in kickoff call,’ and communications with co-workers, other vendors, and clients,” he added. “These are non-taxable intellectual efforts.”
     In a separate order, Alsup also denied Google’s motion for judgment as a matter of law or a new trial on copyright issues regarding rangeCheck function and decompiled files. Google had sought the JMOL to “preserve its rights on appeal in light of the fact that Oracle has stated its intention to file an appeal in this matter.”
     The JMOL order also irons out a final wrinkle concerning writers, journalists or bloggers who may have been paid to report on the trial.
     Both companies denied paying any writers to comment directly during the trial, though Alsup had to order more specifics from Google as to its payroll.
     Alsup ended the search without much ado, stating simply that the court “will take no further action regarding the subject of payments by the litigants to commentators and journalists and reassures both sides that no commentary has in any way influenced the court’s orders and ruling herein save and except for any treatise or article expressly cited in an order or ruling.”
     Once dubbed the tech trial of the century, the case is now primed for an appeal in the 9th Circuit.

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