Oracle and Google tussle over Android profits

SAN FRANCISCO– Lawyers for Oracle and Google tussled before the judge last week Thursday over how much money Google made from Android, a question that will affect how much Google pays in damages if the jury hearing the intellectual property case decides against it.

Google produced a spreadsheet for Oracle in the lead up to the trial that was supposed to show its profit and loss figures for Android. But the judge hearing the case said Thursday that he was concerned that the document was put together specifically for the trial and that the numbers weren’t used by Google in its normal course of business.

Judge William Alsup didn’t actually accuse Google of making up the numbers, but he was clearly frustrated that Google’s lawyers couldn’t testify to the spreadsheet’s precise origin. “It wouldn’t be the first time something had been jimmied up for litigation,” the judge said sternly.

He gave Google until Monday to produce the original documents used to calculate the figures and said that Google’s accounting manager for Android would have to give another deposition next week.

Google doesn’t reveal how much it makes for Android and the spreadsheet in the trial hasn’t been made public. But the judge read a few numbers from it in court, including that Google made $97 million in Android revenue in the first quarter of 2010. He also noted that Google lost money on Android every quarter in 2010, but that it started to report “small profits” from the second half of 2011.

Oracle accuses Google of infringing its Java patents and copyrights in the Android OS. The jury is currently deliberating on the copyright phase of the trial and could render a verdict any time. The second phase of the trial will consider the claims about patent infringement, with a possible third phase related to how much Google should pay in damages if it is found guilty.

While the jury continues its deliberations, Thursday’s hearing was about a motion by Oracle, which complained that the Android figures Google has provided aren’t reliable enough to be used to calculate damages.

The biggest portion of Oracle’s damages claim is for so-called “disgorgement of profits,” or the amount of money Google made from Android allegedly thanks to Oracle’s intellectual property.

Oracle says Google has made $800 million from Android, mostly from advertising. But Google is allowed to deduct Android-related costs from that figure, mostly related to engineering.

The spreadsheet at issue Thursday lists some of those costs, but Oracle said they are vague and might not be accurate. It said it is unclear if some of the expenses are directly related to Android, for example.

“We’re talking about huge numbers here,” the judge said at one point. “If the jury finds liability, $600 million can turn on whether these numbers are any good, and no one seems to know much about the pedigree of this thing.”

It’s not clear where he got the figure of $600 million from, but it may be a rough calculation based on Oracle’s disgorgement of profits claim, less Google’s Android-related expenses.

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