Google and Oracle have been legally arguing about Android’s use of certain Java APIs since 2010 and the court decisions have moved full circle. Google have and are changing how Android uses Java in an effort to remove Oracle’s complaint about the operating system, including the switch from the old Dalvik Run Time to the new Android Run Time for Android version 5.0, Lollipop. There are further changes in how Android uses the Java API, with Google replacing Oracle’s technology for an open source alternative. However, it seems the legal fight has spilled out of the Java API container and into other arenas. The recent news that Google paid Apple a Billion Dollars to keep Search on the iOS product line up was privileged information, residing in a dossier entitled “For Attorney’s Eyes Only.” However, an Oracle lawyer discussed some of these details in court and revealed sensitive financial information between Google and a third party and as these things do, it made headline news within a few days.
We now understand that Google has written to U.S. District Judge William Alsup and U.S. Magistrate Judge, Donna Ryu, asking for sanctions against Oracle following the leaked information. Google is asking for permission to file for finding of contempt and for Oracle’s lawyer not to have any further access to confidential information about either Google or Google’s relationships with third parties. This is because the disclosure of the payment between Google and Apple violated a protective order. The letter stated: “The severe potential consequences of public disclosure quickly became reality, particularly given the surprising nature of the disclosure.” The story was originally broken by Bloomberg, which quoted a transcript of court proceedings and this led to the story of Google’s payment to Apple to keep the Google Search bar on the iPhone. Google gives Apple a percentage of revenue generated via the iPhone but these details had never been made public. The Oracle lawyer also stated that Android as an operating system has generated $31 billion of revenue and $22 billion profit since release.
It’s too soon to know what repercussions there will be following this news, if any, and what decisions the judges will take. It should not influence the main court case between Google and Oracle, but may serve as a reminder for attorneys everywhere to respect client confidentiality.