Judge demands tech giants reveal who they have paid for coverage over concerns it could influence patent infringement trial
Warring tech giants Oracle and Google have been ordered by a judge to reveal the names of any journalists or bloggers they may have paid for coverage of their recent court case.
The ruling was handed down by US District Judge William Alsup, who said he was concerned that either party may have paid for favourable coverage which could have influenced the case.
"The court is concerned that the parties and/or counsel herein may have retained or paid print or internet authors, journalists, commentators or bloggers who have and/or may publish comments on the issues in the case," Alsup wrote.
Alsup added that these revelations may prove useful for the appeal process, which is likely to kick into gear in the not to distant future.
According to the BBC, a small number of bloggers are already known to have received payment in relation to coverage of the case. Patent expert Florian Mueller has already revealed that Oracle was a consulting client, meaning he receives payment from them. He however stressed the financial relationship did not influence his writing on the matter and that Oracle never saw content before it was posted on his blog.
Similarly Google has been known to make donations to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a not for profit organisation which specialises in digital rights.
It is not at all clear at this stage what will constitute payment to a journalist, blogger or commentator or whether the two parties have been given detailed instructions about what information they have to hand over.
Speaking to Reuters, Eric Goldman, professor of Internet law at Santa Clara University School of Law, said he may well appear on the list. He has blogged on the case and his website features adverts from Google's ad network.
In a statement Oracle said: "Oracle has always disclosed all of its financial relationships in this matter, and it is time for Google do to the same. We read this order to also include indirect payments to entities who, in turn, made comments on behalf of Google."
The case was brought by Oracle not long after it acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010, and with it the Java programming language. Oracle claimed Google's Android mobile operating system infringes on a number of its patents.
In May Google was cleared of most of the charges but was found guilty of copying nine lines of code. Shortly after that decision Oracle said it would accept $0 in damages in order to move to the appeal process.