Judge Rips into Oracle and Google Over Multi-billion Dollar Patent Dispute, Sets Trial Date for Halloween

Paul Lilly

U.S. District Judge William Alsup is none too pleased with Google and Oracle, giving both companies 'what for' and accusing them of being unreasonable in a recent hearing over a dispute related to Oracle's Java patents. Oracle tried claiming Google owes it upwards of $6 billion, while Google maintains a nickel would be five cents too much. Both claims managed to push Alsup's buttons.

"You're both asking for the moon and you should be more reasonable," Alsup said in what Reuters described as a testy hearing."

The judged called Google's zero-sum figure "ridiculous" and "totally wrong," and was equally appalled at Oracle's $6.1 billion figure. According to Reuters, he took Oracle's attorney Steven Holtzman to task for charging $700 an hour to come up with a number topping $6 billion.

At issue is the use of Java in the Android operating system that infringes patents Oracle inherited when it acquired Sun Microsystems. Alsup has already formed the opinion that Google "has a product out there that is in direct violation of" Oracle's patents, but noted it was "crazy" for Oracle to base its damages on the entire market value of Android, according to Bloomberg . He also wasn't thrilled when Hotzman appeared reluctant to go over financial details publicly in court.

"This is a public proceeding. You lawyers and companies are not going to handcuff the court. This is not a wholly owned subsidiary of Oracle Corp," Alsup said.

Where it stands now is that Oracle and Google have a trial date set for October 31, 2011, with one very ticked off judge presiding over the case. Google tried to get the trial date pushed back, but that didn't happen. And while Oracle initially tried to sock Google with a $6.1 billion verdict, the company has been ordered to rework its damages report.

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