Oracle trial against Google turns into CEO day 

click to enlarge Google Chief Executive Larry Page is pictured in a courtroom sketch giving a video deposition during the second day of trial over patents involving Java - an "open-source" software programming language in San Francisco, California April 17, 2012. - REUTERS/VICKI BEHRINGER
  • REUTERS/Vicki Behringer
  • Google Chief Executive Larry Page is pictured in a courtroom sketch giving a video deposition during the second day of trial over patents involving Java - an "open-source" software programming language in San Francisco, California April 17, 2012.

The chief executives of Oracle Corp and Google Inc took the stand in court on Tuesday but delivered no bombshells as Google's lawyers argued Oracle is trying to hitch a ride on Google's success after abandoning the idea of building its own smartphone.

Oracle sued Google in August 2010 over patent and copyright claims for the Java programming language. According to Oracle, Google's Android mobile operating system tramples its intellectual property rights to Java, which it acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems in 2010.

"I think we did nothing wrong," said Google CEO Larry Page as he testified for about 20 minutes toward the end of day two of the jury trial. He is expected to continue on Wednesday.

Google says it does not violate Oracle's patents and that Oracle cannot copyright certain parts of Java - an "open-source" or publicly available software language.

Oracle had at one time considered the feasibility of buying Blackberry maker Research in Motion and Palm to make a foray into the mobile device market, according to testimony from Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison earlier on Tuesday.

Ellison said Oracle ultimately decided against pursuing its own phone after weeks of analysis.

He told the packed federal courtroom in San Francisco that Google was the only corporation he knew of that had not taken one of three types of Java licenses. He said other companies ranging from Samsung Electronics to Inc had taken licenses.

"Just because something is open-source doesn't mean you can do whatever you want with it," Ellison testified.

Billionaire Ellison, clad in a conservative dark blue suit and red tie, was repeatedly questioned by Google's lawyer, who zeroed in on his idea to build an Oracle smartphone and go toe-to-toe with Apple Inc and Google.

Ellison denied ever having approached Google about building smartphone software together, and said smartphones turned out to be "a bad idea" of his.

"The idea was building the smartphone using Java FX and then charge carriers like Verizon for it," he said. Ellison said that they had debated the merits of every option to crack the smartphone arena, including buying RIM, which he said was too expensive at the time, and Palm, which Hewlett-Packard ended up acquiring.

But Ellison contends that in 2010, he tried to persuade then-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and current CEO Page to take on a newer version of Java in Android, and make Android more compatible with industry standards. Those talks proved fruitless.

Page, appearing in a charcoal suit, rarely looked at Oracle attorney David Boies but instead consistently smiled at the jury as Boies asked his questions. Page said he was not sure about the procedures Google used to make sure its developers did not use protected Java intellectual property.


Google attorney Robert Van Nest acknowledged on Tuesday that Google executives had once negotiated for a potential partnership with Sun, before Oracle acquired it, to develop Android.

"When those negotiations failed, Google engineers built Android on their own without any Sun technology whatsoever," Van Nest said in his opening argument.

The lawyer said Oracle tried but failed to make inroads into the smartphone market around 2009 or 2010 and is now trying to grab a slice of Android, which is built partly with the open Java software language pioneered by Sun.

Van Nest played a video of Ellison telling former Sun Microsystems Chairman Scott McNealy at a public event that he welcomed Google's "Java devices" and saw no reason Oracle-Sun should not have several of its own.

The trial before U.S. District Judge William Alsup is expected to last at least eight weeks.

On Monday, Oracle attorney Michael Jacobs said Google took copyrighted Java "blueprints" to harness the creative power of millions of Java software developers, so they then could write applications for Android. However, Google never obtained the proper license, he said.

The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is Oracle America, Inc v. Google Inc, 10-3561.

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