Ho hum, another day, another patent infringement suit. I’m becoming de-sensitized.
And we all know the cycle by now. File infringement action, issue press release, enter cone of silence while negotiations take place, work out cross license agreement, issue press release, provide no further detail.
But with news of Oracle’s patent and copyright infringement action against Google one thing strikes me as different. Oracle is not a company that has made a sport out of pursuing cross-licensing agreements off the back of infringement actions like Microsoft has. The most notable example was their action against Alcatel-Lucent which was settled before a trial. Besides that, there’s not much else in the way of other offensive patent actions.
But there’s another case that might be more relevant here. Oracle v. SAP – specifically the action they took after SAP had purchased 3rd party Peoplesoft/JDEdwards support provider TomorrowNow.
Why is this relevant?. First off, Oracle’s primary issue was copyright infringement – TomorrowNow was using Oracle’s copyrighted material in order to provide support at significantly lower prices to Oracle customers. Oracle clearly had no intention of working out a deal with SAP. Instead they hammered them in court. That resulted in SAP shutting down TomorrowNow and losing their investment.
But that’s not all. Just last week SAP made a legal filing agreeing that they were prepared to pay Oracle tens of millions of dollars in compensation. Oracle’s view? Nice try, but we’re looking for BILLIONS of dollars in damages.
So before we write off Oracle’s action against Google as another attempt to obtain a tidy little license agreement let’s realize that we could be dealing with an IP pit bull here. If Oracle sees Android as being as much a strategic threat to their business as TomorrowNow was, then this has a higher probability of making its way to the courts than your average infringement action.
If it does, and if they prevail, then look out Google!
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