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Judge Orders Google, Oracle Back To Talks In Patent Case

By John Letzing Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES SAN FRANCISCO -(Dow Jones)- A U.S. Magistrate Judge has ordered top executives at Google Inc. (GOOG) and Oracle Corp. (ORCL) to make another effort to settle the firms' ongoing patent dispute related to Google's Android mobile software by meeting to discuss the matter. A related trial has been expected to begin next month. In a filing on Friday, Judge Paul Grewal said participants in the newly ordered settlement conference should include "at least" Oracle President and Chief Financial Officer Safra Katz and Google Senior Vice President of Mobile Andy Rubin. The conference should take place no later than April 9, according to the filing. Oracle sued Google in August 2010, alleging that Google's popular Android software had infringed patents and copyrights associated with Oracle's Java technology. In a rare case of a company targeting Google directly with patent claims associated with Android, rather than suing a hardware firm that makes use of the software, Oracle has suggested in the past that it could be owed billions of dollars in damages as a result of the alleged infringement. Last year, executives from Google and Oracle, including the companies' CEOs, met more than once to discuss a possible settlement of the case. Those talks didn't result in a resolution, however. Oracle obtained Java when the company purchased Sun Microsystems in early 2010 for $5.6 billion. Google's Android is developed according to an open-source model that utilizes outside engineering contributions, and is provided free to device makers. Android captured a 50.9% share of the worldwide smartphone market in the fourth quarter of last year, according to data from Gartner Inc., compared to a 30.5% share in the period a year earlier. Representatives from Google and Oracle declined to comment. -By John Letzing, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-765-8230;

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