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Judge Won’t Strike Much of Google Expert Reports

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Google can rely on much of two expert reports to fight claims that its Android operating system infringes on Oracle's Java copyrights, a federal judge ruled.

Oracle had claimed that Gregory Leonard and Alan Cox were unqualified to submit expert opinions, that they relied on unreliable sources and that their opinions were not supported by evidence.

Though U.S. District Judge William Alsup mostly disagreed, he agreed to strike Cox's opinions on profit disgorgement.

Leonard and Cox relied on Google's other experts, interviews with employees and documentary evidence to make technical points in their reports, Alsup found.

He rejected Oracle's claim that the experts were "both economists with no technical expertise" who offered "unqualified opinions regarding technical matters."

Experts can rely on foundational facts applied by Google engineers "so long as they testify to the foundational facts with firsthand knowledge," the decision states, which adds that Google already agreed to offer underlying factual testimony before calling its damages experts.

Using the same logic, Alsup rejected Oracle's claim that the experts relied on "spoon-fed" facts given by Google employees.

Oracle's assertion that Cox and Leonard did not cite evidence for some of their key propositions is "plainly wrong," Alsup said, noting that Oracle took one passage out of context and that the other examples either have supporting citations or are part of broader discussions where support can be inferred from surrounding text.

Oracle similarly lost out on its motion to strike Cox and Leonard's opinions on stagnation and fragmentation in the Java community on the basis that they were unqualified and their sources were unreliable.

The judge noted that Oracle submitted an expert damages report in which economics professor Iain Cockburn discusses fragmentation, even though he lacks a background in computer science.

Oracle also made no attempt to debunk the supposedly unreliable citations that the experts used to support their arguments on fragmentation and stagnation. Alsup ruled that the sources, which include Hasan Rizvi, Oracle's senior vice president of Java, and James Gosling, former chief technology officer at Sun Microsystems, are reliable as long as foundational facts are properly laid out at trial.

While Alsup also refused to strike Leonard's opinion regarding the business opportunity that was lost to Sun Microsystems when Google launched Android, he did grant strike parts of Dr. Cox's reports claiming that noninfringing alternatives to Java would provide a basis for calculating wrongful profit. There is a remedy for calculating wrongful profits, and noninfringing alternatives are not part of it, the judge noted.

Oracle's motions were the latest salvo in a jury trial that is expected to start around the beginning of next year.

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