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Fee Fight: The Next Battle In Oracle And Google's Smartphone War?

Publication Date: 
June 15, 2012
The Recorder
Ginny LaRoe
Professor Mark A. Lemley analyzed the legal issues at stake in the expensive Oracle v. Google patent suit over smartphone technology in the following article written by The Recorder's Ginny LaRoe.

Oracle v. Google could still be a fight worth millions — in attorney fees.

Oracle Corp. took Google Inc. to court on a quest for eye-popping damages in the first of the smartphone wars to go to jury trial. Oracle lost on almost every claim and can only get a fraction of the billions it once sought. So observers say they expect Google to try to recoup the small fortune it surely paid Keker & Van Nest and two other firms to do battle with the likes of David Boies and top Morrison & Foerster IP litigators.

But it won't be an easy call for the judge, who has complete discretion to give anyone a dime.

"They've got a shot at it," says Mark Lemley, a Stanford law professor and IP litigator at Durie Tangri. (Google is a firm client, but he was not involved in the case.)


Lemley, the Stanford professor, also noted that the dispute over whether the Java technology — 37 APIs packages, or programming application interfaces — are copyrightable served a public service, a factor for the trial judge.

"This seems like an issue that is an important issue that hasn't been squarely resolved before," Lemley said.

And Alsup might not even agree that Google is the prevailing party, which is required for a fee award, said Neil Smith, a IP partner at Ropers Majeski Kohn & Bentley.


Lemley's view, though, is it's probably worth a shot. The worst that could happen is Alsup says no, he noted.

"For a company put on the defensive for the entirety of the lawsuit," he said, "it'd sure be nice to have the case come out at the end of the day with Oracle paying Google money."