Saturday, September 10, 2011

Oracle v. Google mediation: Larry meets Larry to talk tons of money

On Thursday, I reported that the odds were rising again for a mediation effort involving Oracle's and Google's CEOs, Larry Ellison and Larry Page. In that post I also summarized the previous steps in this regard. On Friday, Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal indeed ordered the two to participate in settlement talks in court. Here's the relevant part of the order (click to enlarge):

This means they -- and most likely also some other execs -- will have to show up on September 19, and if there's no agreement on that day, there'll be an unspecified number of additional attempts between September 20 and September 30. This is in line with Judge Alsup's order that mediation take place before the end of the month.

In preparation of this effort, Oracle's and Google's lawyers will appear for separate pre-conference trials on Wednesday, September 14 (Oracle in the morning, Google in the afternoon). They are welcome to bring along company representatives to the tutorials, but don't have to. Also, confidential settlement statements are due on Monday, September 12. The tutorials won't be public, and the settlements statements won't enter the public record.

The order was entered twice. The only difference between the two documents is the date of the order. The first one was erroneously dated September 8, and the corrected one (from which I produced the image above) states September 9.

While Magistrate Judge Grewal had discretion over whom to order to attend, the presiding judge, Judge Alsup, made it easier for him to order the CEOs. Since Judge Alsup recommended this, the parties know that they can't ask the presiding judge to overrule the magistrate's order, and that Judge Alsup wouldn't view it favorably if they argued with the magistrate over the need for the CEOs to appear in person.

I think the court does the right thing. With so much at stake, it's reasonable to ask the CEOs to attend. It's the best shot at resolving this without a trial, but it will still be very hard to bridge the gap between the parties' positions and business models. Oracle wants to be paid a lot on a per-unit basis while Google wants to give away Android to OEMs without charging a license fee per se.

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