It's starting to look like the patent infringement case that Oracle has brought against Google may never make it to court. Google has hinted in its last public filing on the case that it may be willing to settle the case rather than go to court.
Google is accused of infringing on seven Sun Java patents in its Android OS. Sun is owned by tech giant Oracle, which has brough the case against Google. The lawsuit claims that Google knowingly infringed on seven Java copyrights and patents. So far, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has made a preliminary ruling rejecting four of the seven claims, confirming one as valid, and leaving two for re-examination. This ruling is not final. The trial is set for October and scheduled to run for three weeks. If the case were to go to trial and Google lost, it could face penalties anywhere from $1.4 and $6.1 billion dollars.
Originally, Google claimed that because the Java programming language itself was open-source that the resulting code couldn't be patented, but that line of defence fell flat. Then, Google tried to duck the blame and say that it hadn't violated any patents, and any violations were from third-parties. Now, Google is saying that if certain conditions are met "the parties could reach an informal resolution of the matter."
The real sticking point for Google is that since early on in the filing Oracle has been asking for penalties on a per-unit basis. Google does not charge licensing fees for the Android OS, and analysts say Google makes less than $10 per device. So, any penalties in the range talked about in this case could lead to a big change in how Google licenses Android, which would have a ripple effect on the number and variety of devices in the ecosystem.