Summary: The report of a Patent Expert Witness was limited in a copyright infringement case as to the apportionment of damages

Facts: This case (Oracle America, Inc. v. Google Inc. – United States District Court- Northern District of California –  March 13, 2012) involves a patent dispute. The plaintiff, Oracle America, alleges that the defendant, Google, used code that was copyrighted. Dr. Ian Cockburn wrote a damages report for this case which included five methods of apportionment. First, Dr. Cockburn reviewed the 2006 request for $99 million to Google. Second, he suggested adjusting the pay of the lawsuit to $557 million to match potential lost revenue. Third, he adds on another $28 million by removing a revenue-sharing cap. Fourth, he encourages the use of alternative methods including the “group and value” and “independent significance” approaches. Fifth, he downwardly adjusts because of potential extraterritorial infringement. After the damage report had been reviewed, Dr. Cockburn’s calculated patent damages stood between $18 and $56 million with the copyright lost license fee between $35 and $112 million. Google then acted to strike the report.

Discussion: The court evaluated Dr. Cockburn’s potential apportionment methods. Dr. Cockburn started with the “Group and Value” method which focuses on specific patents and copyrights with the payment from Google to Oracle equaling their importance to the function of the smartphone. Google opines that this was a biased approach because Oracle engineers gave each patent their value, though this ended up being a point for cross examination instead. Dr. Cockburn concluded that there were lower and upper bound patents with the upper bound patents carrying more weight, thus being more of value. The court took issue with the upper bound ranking and ended up striking it with the lower bound and overall group and value method being approved. Additionally, damages did not have to be apportioned on a claim-by-claim basis and Dr. Cockburn’s value distribution curve was allowed to be applied after Google refuted their use.