Latest filings in Oracle patent case spell trouble for Google

By Ed Bott


Summary: Newly released documents from Oracle’s copyright and patent lawsuit against Google contain sections that Google’s lawyers fought unsuccessfully to keep confidential. The details support Oracle’s claim that Google copied Java code, and one slide is certain to make Android OEMs nervous.

The latest documents filed in Oracle’s copyright and patent lawsuit against Google contain more than a dozen chunks of information that Google’s lawyers fought to keep confidential. They lost, and the result is some embarrassing and possibly damaging disclosures.

Two documents filed yesterday were made public today and first reported by Florian Mueller on his FOSS Patents blog.

The most interesting revelations are in a 290-page report from Oracle’s expert witness, John C. Mitchell, Ph.D. Dr. Mitchell, a Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and a heavyweight in programming circles whose work is incorporated in both the Java and .NET programming languages, was hired by Oracle (at a rate of $800 per hour) to testify on Google’s alleged infringement of Oracle’s copyrights and patents on Java, which it acquired when it purchased Sun in 2009.

Oracle’s most damning accusation is that Google directly copied Java source code for use in Android. The new documents directly address those claims.

A total of 12 sections in Prof. Mitchell’s report were marked as GOOGLE ATTORNEYS’ EYES ONLY or GOOGLE CONFIDENTIAL. Here’s a sampling of what Google wanted to redact:

“According to Google’s records, a number of Google employees and contractors who worked on Android previously had access to Sun’s Java code.” One, Joshua Bloch, “was an architect of the Java platform at Sun [and] now works for Google … his name appears in the source code of several Java library files.”

“When asked about the significance of copyright protection for the specifications he wrote at Sun, Bloch replied: ‘[I]f someone else were to take this prose and publish it for profit, Sun would probably be upset, and with good reason.’”

Google exec Patrick Brady, in a June 2009 document titled “Android Strategy and Partnerships Overview,”  is quoted as saying “Android isn’t a new product to monetize; it’s a new medium to drive monetization on existing products.”

In a deposition, Bloch was asked whether he accessed Sun code while working at Google. “I don’t have a recollection, but I’m perfectly willing to believe that I did. You know, I think the similarity of the signature, the fact that, you know, the three arguments are in the same order and have the same name, you know, is a strong indication that it is likely that I did.”

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