Judge in Oracle Case Balks at Disgorgement
Oracle’s chances of a multi-million dollar payday in its infringement suit against Google vanished Monday morning after Judge William Alsup all but took disgorgement off the table for the damages phase.
“There is no way that the law should allow a disgorgement theory in the billions or hundreds of millions of dollars,” Alsup told the lawyers before jurors arrived for the morning session. Oracle had hoped to argue that Google’s copyright infringement of 37 Java application programming interfaces (APIs) in its Android operating system resulted in a profit windfall for the company at the expense of Oracle’s intellectual property. Oracle acquired Java when it bought Sun Microsystems in 2010.
“We’re [going to] do decompiled [codes] and rangeCheck and nothing else. We’re not going to get into disgorgement for the API packages because no liability has been shown,” Alsup said. The jury decided last week that Google infringed on 37 API packages, but failed to decide if the infringement constituted fair use. Without that key component to the verdict, the question of liability remains unresolved.
However, Alsup was quick to point out that Oracle’s team can mount whatever damages case it pleases — even if he thinks it amounts to legal folly.
”[Oracle attorney] Mr. Jacobs said I was cutting short his day in court, so he can put on the case if he wants,” the judge said, referring to an exchange Friday when he first expressed skepticism about Oracle’s plans to seek disgorgement.
“But there is no way in my view the law could hold with disgorgement,” Alsup added.