Last week, Google was hit by a twist in its ongoing case with Oracle (ORCL) over the use of Java in the development of Android. A federal appeals court ruled in favor of Oracle claiming that Google had infringed on Oracle’s copyrights. This could make Google liable for payment of more than $8 billion in damages.
This case, which is a merry-go-round in itself is not the only one on Google’s head. The search giant has been plagued with various lawsuits in recent months.
In January, Google was accused of paying women less than men for similar duties. Google denied the claims and released salary analysis data showing equal pay irrespective of gender. This data was deemed inadequate by activist groups. The lawsuit, along with another sexual harassment lawsuit filed separately by another employee, has been allowed to bring Google’s work culture under scrutiny.
The same month, James Damore, who was fired over a diversity-policies memo, filed a suit against Google for discrimination against white men and conservatives. This was followed by a lawsuit on YouTube claiming it used quotas to hire employees based on race and gender rather than merit. The tech giant disputed these claims. Meanwhile, last week, YouTube obtained the dismissal of another lawsuit alleging censorship of conservative content.
In February, Google was hit by a separate class-action lawsuit over microphone defects in its Pixel smartphones.
Lawsuits are never a good thing for any company as it brings with it the additional expenditures of litigation along with the loss of reputation. As these lawsuits proceed, it remains unclear as to how much Google will have to spend in terms of settlements or liabilities.
Google’s parent Alphabet (GOOGL) saw its stock dip during the last two weeks even causing it to fall behind Amazon in the valuation race. The company also fell under the radar following the Facebook data leak scandal as it too has a similar ad-revenue model. There is the hope that Google will prevail due to its size and its stock will recover, but constant bumps with the law are not good.
Some studies claim that Google’s position as a leading company could prove to be either a boon or a bane. The company could get away with no punishment due to its prestige, or it could face greater punishment, if found guilty, as opposed to smaller entities.
Guess Spiderman’s uncle Ben was right, “with great power comes great responsibility.”