Monday, September 22, 2014

Oracle and Switzerland's Myriad Group settle four-year-old dispute over Java licensing

Almost four years ago a dispute over Java licensing broke out between Oracle and one of its former licensees, Switzerland-based Myriad Group, only a few months after Oracle sued Google. Interestingly, Myriad Group was represented by King & Spalding, the firm that was leading Google's defensive efforts against Oracle during the first phase of the litigation. There was only limited factual overlap between these cases, with one parallel being that both Google and Myriad were trying to play the "open source" card. Some of the licensing issues Myriad was trying to raise could theoretically have come in handy for Google, but the Oracle-Myriad litigation never reached the stage at which any substantive decision would have been made.

As far as I can see, I never reported on that dispute again (though I maintained a subscription to notifications of new filings). At some point the matter was referred to mediation. There were some filings in recent months that indicated the dispute might continue in the Northern District of California in some fashion, but now the parties have just filed a stipulation to dismiss their claims aginst each other with prejudice as a result of a comprehensive settlement (this post continues below the document):

14-09-22 Oracle-Myriad Dismissal of Claims After Settlement by Florian Mueller

The filing doesn't reveal the specific terms of the settlement but I'd be extremely surprised if Myriad had not taken a Java license again. Otherwise there would have been no reason for Oracle to drop its claims against Myriad. Assuming that this is correct, it certainly strengthens Oracle's Java licensing business.

The settlement between Oracle and Myriad comes precisely two weeks before the (extended) deadline for Google's petition to the Supreme Court of the United States for writ of certiorari in the (far higher-profile) Android-Java copyright dispute. While the district court had sided with Google on the question of copyrightability (and the jury was hung with respect to fair use, leaving the defense unresolved for the time being), the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the non-copyrightability ruling and remanded the case for a new trial on fair use. Google is apparently trying to persuade the highest court in the U.S. to take a look at this case before it goes back to the district court.

It's speculative to say (but I'm at liberty to speculate) that Oracle's copyrightability win before the Federal Circuit may also have shown to Myriad Group that at the end of the day it would again need a Java license.

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