Media & Communications Law

Judge Orders Litigants Google and Oracle to Disclose Paid Bloggers

Updated and corrected: A federal judge in San Francisco has ordered two tech companies that battled over Android smart phones to disclose payments made to bloggers, authors, commentators and journalists.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup required Google and Oracle to disclose the payments to individuals who commented or reported on issues in the case, report, Bloomberg News, Ars Technica and How Appealing. Verdicts in the infringement case have favored Google.

“Although proceedings in this matter are almost over,” Alsup wrote in his order, “they are not fully over yet and, in any event, the disclosure required by this order would be of use on appeal or on any remand to make clear whether any treatise, article, commentary or analysis on the issues posed by this case are possibly influenced by financial relationships to the parties or counsel.”

Florian Mueller of the FOSS Patents Blog has already disclosed that Oracle is his consulting client, according to Bloomberg and Ars Technica. Oracle later disclosed the Mueller payments, as well as payments to Stanford University law professor Paul Goldstein, who assisted an Oracle law firm, PC Magazine reports. Goldstein has not commented on the Oracle-Google lawsuit, however, the BBC News reports. He was named “out of an abundance of caution,” the Oracle filing said.

Google made two disclosures indicating it hasn’t paid bloggers or journalists, but showing financial connections to people who commented on the case. One of them is Stanford law professor Mark Lemley, an outside counsel to the company for cases other than the Oracle suit, according to the Hill’s technology blog Hillicon Valley. Google has also made payments to several groups whose officials or employees commented on the case or related legal issues, including the Computer and Communications Industry Association and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The company also once employed an intern who now works for the technology blog Ars Technica and writes about the case.

Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman raises questions about the order in a tweet. “Whoa!” Goldman writes. “Judge Alsup orders Google/Oracle to disclose their shills All judges should order this, but is it constitutional?”

Corrected on Aug. 29 to say that Oracle is Mueller’s consulting client, and updated on Aug. 29 to include Google and Oracle disclosures.

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