Oracle is going all-out in its patent assault against Google (NSDQ: GOOG). The company revealed today it’s seeking damages “in the billions of dollars” in a trial over whether the Android operating system infringes certain patents that Oracle bought from Sun Microsystems.
The patents at issue cover the Java programming language, which Oracle bought when it purchased Sun Microsystems in January 2010, notes Reuters. But whereas Sun generally used its patents only defensively, Oracle has taken Sun’s innovations and used them to mount a full-scale assault on Google and its Android mobile operating system.
The case is scheduled to go to trial in November.
While there are plenty of nine-digit patent verdicts and settlements-RIM’s $612 million settlement over mobile e-mail being one of the most famous-very few patent verdicts have gone over $1 billion, and none of those have been upheld. Alcatel-Lucent won a $1.5 billion verdict against Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) for MP3 technology in 2007, but that was overturned on appeal. A $1.67 billion win for Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Centocor again broke the record for largest patent verdict when it was awarded in 2009; but it, too, was overturned on appeal.
Android is facing patent threats on several fronts, although the suit brought by Oracle is the most direct and most threatening by far. In addition to that, Microsoft is demanding licensing fees from handset makers that use Android phones. It sued Motorola over this last year; and in April, it reached a licensing deal with HTC, which is now paying a fee to Microsoft for every Android phone it sells. And then there are the usual bevy of lawsuits brought by “patent trolls” with no business other than seeking licensing fees.