By Alexandra Burlacu | Aug 19, 2012 12:50 PM EDT
The court overseeing the patent dispute between Oracle and Google has ordered both companies to disclose names of people they are financially tied to, in an effort to determine whether the people writing about the case have influenced coverage of the trial. Oracle has revealed two names - a patent blogger and a professor. Google said it needed more guidance to reveal names of people who might fall under this category.
Oracle revealed it had financial ties with blogger Florian Mueller and Professor Paul Goldstein of Stanford University. Meanwhile, Google said it did not pay any "journalists, bloggers, or other commentators to write about this case," adding that it needed more guidance before disclosing other names.
The trial focused on Oracle's claim that Google owes it roughly $1 billion in compensation for using its technologies in the Android system. The jury in the case ruled that the patents in question had not been breached, and the judge dismissed the central copyright claim. Oracle, in turn, said it would "vigorously appeal" this decision. The judge, meanwhile, expressed concerns that financial relationships might have influenced analysis published online and in newspapers.
Shortly after the trial kicked off, Mueller revealed that he was providing consultancy services to Oracle. The patent blogger's articles are closely followed by industry professionals, and he is constantly cited by the media. A UN agency has also quoted Mueller recently in a press release regarding patent disputes.
"In April, I proactively announced a broadly-focused consulting relationship with Oracle, six months after announcing a similar working relationship with Microsoft," Mueller told the BBC before Oracle's filing. "I can also certify that I wrote all of my blog posts on the trial independently, without being directed or influenced by anyone."
"All the information I received from Oracle itself was what the company uploaded to its website on each trial day," explained the blogger. "With the exception of the disclosure statement, Oracle never saw my posts, in whole or part, before they went live."
In addition to Florian Mueller, Oracle has also named Prof. Goldstein, and said it has done so "out of an abundance of caution." The professor had advised a law firm the company had engaged, but he did not specifically comment on the lawsuit in question. Oracle further added that some of its employees might have blogged about the case as well, but it "did not ask or approve" this action.
In a submission to California's Judge Alsup, Oracle also claimed that Google maintained an extensive network of "attorneys, trade associations, academics and bloggers," and said it believed the search giant "brought this extensive network of influencers to shape public perceptions concerning the position it was advocating throughout this trial." Google denied such allegations and said it had not been involved in any "quid pro quo" arrangements for positive coverage.
Google did, however, admit that it had financial ties to several types of people and organizations that remain unnamed for now, including universities and non-profit entities, various organizations to which it belonged or to which it had made contributions, expert consultants, witnesses identified for the trial, bloggers, and others. In this regards, Google's lawyers asked for further guidance for naming those who fell into each category. According to Google, it has not provided a full list so far in order to "avoid flooding the court with long lists of such individuals or organizations."
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