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Summary:

Concerned that Google and Oracle were paying authors and journalists to influence a highly-publicized trial, a federal judge asked them to name names. Today, the parties filed their lists – Oracle names FOSS Patents blogger Florian Mueller and Google names no one.

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Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that patent blogger Florian Mueller coordinates the writing of his blog posts with lawyers from his clients. That piece of information, upon further scrutiny by us, did not hold up, and so we have removed it from the story. We apologize to Mr. Mueller and to readers. 

A federal judge last week wrote that he was “concerned” Oracle and Google had paid journalists and bloggers to comment on their highly-publicized intellectual property trial and ordered them to provide a list of names. The responses are now in.

Oracle’s list is headed by patent propagandist, Florian Mueller, a long-time Microsoft consultant whose FOSS Patents blog regularly posts articles slanted against Google (see “Oracle Java patent rises like Phoenix from the ashes”). Mueller, who has no legal training, works with his clients’ lawyers to issue authoritative-sounding pronouncements about patent cases, according to a longtime lawyer we talked with who consults with journalists and technology companies.

In an email to paidContent after publication of this story, Mueller rejected the notion that he works his clients’ lawyers: “I develop and author my blog posts on lawsuits involving Microsoft based on the court documents I download from official, neutral sources, or based on what I hear when I personally attend court hearings or announcements of decisions. I absolutely positively do not work[] with lawyers of [Microsoft or any other client] to issue authoritative-sounding pronouncements about patent cases.”

Oracle and Mueller have attempted to defend the latter’s behavior by noting that Mueller issued a brief disclosure at the outset of the trial. Mueller did not, however, flag the conflict of interest in subsequent posts and typically does not disclose his affiliations when speaking to other media outlets. Oracle does state “Oracle retained him after he had begun write about this case; and that he was not retained to write about the case.”

Google’s filing says it did not pay anyone to report or comment on the case nor engage in any quid pro quo with those who did.

In addition to providing brief disclosures related to the trial, both sides appear to have used the submissions for strategic advantage.

Google uses its filing to describe its extensive contribution to universities and researchers, and to call attention to its transparency policies. The appendix to its filing includes a list of trade associations, non-profits and researchers to whom Google has given money.

Oracle uses the bulk of its response to accuse Google of skullduggery: “a network of “direct and indirect  “influencers” to advance Google’s intellectual property agenda. This network is extensive .”

Neither side offers any insight into the relationship between money and media.

Oracle lost the case that was dubbed “the World Series of IP” and the two sides are now fighting over costs.

Both filings are below.

Google Shill List

Oracle Shills

(Image by Iwona Grodzka via Shutterstock)

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  1. The title of this article as well as the ‘shill list’ phrase used to link the filing docs towards the end were really misleading. They made me think that both companies really had filed a list of people’s names who took cash and wrote stuff in favor of their payers, in relation to this case. In reality, both filings don’t say anything that was not previously known.

    1. Jeff John Roberts A S Friday, August 17, 2012

      A S, thanks for the comment. I was disappointed myself that the list didn’t contain any surprises. I didn’t mean to mislead you but see how the headline might be over the top (I plan to amend it). As for the ‘shill’s list,’ that term is being used widely in the media so think it’s not unfair.

    2. Nothing that wasn’t known? I knew EFF, CCIA and CDT were astroturfing for Google, but I certainly didn’t know that Gosling was working for them. Nor did I know that Lauren Weinstein was on the payroll.

  2. From looking through those documents, wouldn’t it be correct to say that other than employees of either company that happen to blog, Florian Mueller was the *only* paid blogger writing about the case that was disclosed?

    Google lists a bunch of academics they’ve given grants to, organizations they’ve given money to, and stuff like that, but no bloggers, journalists, or anyone else paid specifically to write about the case.

    1. What kind of fool are you? Do you think that Google gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to the EFF just because it was lying around collecting dust? Do you think that Google was surprised when the EFF started writing blog posts condemning Oracle’s case? You must be a fool.

      As they said in Watergate, “Follow the money.” No one gives away that much money without expecting something for it.

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