The trial finally bring an end to the ongoing battle between Oracle and Google over the validity of the Android Operating System is finally upon us. The Jury has been selected and the landmark Patent Case is set to start but there is still the real question over what is actually in dispute at this point.
Since the news of the lawsuit first broke first broke August 2010 there has been a great deal of shifts and changes in the dispute and even the amount being asked and offered has changed dramatically over time. In a recent article over at ZDNet, Rachel King offers:
Last September, Oracle wanted at least US$1.16 billion in damages from Google, which is considerably less than the US$6.1 billion it was asking for in July. Yet, some followers of the case have said that Oracle would be lucky to extract even US$100 million in this intellectual property suit.
The answers to what Patents have supposedly been infringed upon and what the outcome of the case will be should be over soon as multiple sources say that the trial should only take about 8 weeks to complete.
As an amateur developer, the real question does come from this trial is that if I use a programming language like Java and build a wildly successful application like Android has become…will this lead to Oracle knocking on my door and asking for US$6.1 Billion dollars? Look no further than this case as a reason why I feel that Patent Trolls are the greatest single risk to innovation today and the entire concept of Patent Law as it relates to technology MUST be looked at.
I did a quick check over at www.patentlyapple.com for some of the frivolous and well downright idiotic patents that the king of technology has put forth lately and well to my surprise…they have patented an icon…yes a FREAKING ICON well…ok so it is a Trademark but still…it is an icon…I just don’t get it. To gain some idea of the extreme costs associated with this brand of modern day blackmail that is not only condoned but fully supported by a broken system.
According to survey data from the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), when attorneys from major metropolitan cities work on patent cases where the plaintiff is seeking damages of $25 million or less, total litigation costs run $600,000 -$2 million for cases settled before going to trial, and $1.2 million -$3.5 million if they go through trial and appeal. For cases involving more than $25 million the AIPLA says pretrial litigation costs are $1.4 million -$4 million and jump to $2.5 million -$6 million if the cases go through trial and appeal. In cases that goes to trial, the judge has the option to order the losing party to pay the winning party’s legal fees, but only in exceptional circumstances (such as fraud or bad faith). Going to trial is rare in patent litigation; less than 5 percent of cases go to trial.
But the reality is, that Patent Law is here and whether I agree with its existence or like it, there will be those who exist only to profit from being the first to file a piece of paper outlining how touching a screen with two fingers is unique or the best one that I have been able to find to express how broken the Patent System is relates to Patent #8,011,991…amazingly the title of this Patent is: Apparatus for facilitating the construction of a snow man/woman.
Have a great day everyone.
Chris J Powell