Oracle and Google CEOs in court over Android

18 Apr 2012

Oracle’s Java lawsuit against Google’s Android OS has reached the courtroom with both Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Google CEO Larry Page giving testimony.

In this lawsuit, Oracle claims Google infringed its patents and copyrights on Java while building its Android OS.

It also claimed Google infringed its copyrights on Java APIs. However, Google denies the infringements and argues that Java APIs cannot be protected by copyright.

The lawsuit was filed in 2010 against seven different Java patents, though five were thrown out of court. Google offered Oracle a US$2.8m share of Android revenues in damages, but Oracle declined the offer.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, first took the stand in the US District Court in San Francisco, claiming that Google did not sign up for any of its Java licences.

He explained Java had three licences: GPL open-source, specification and commercial. He said companies such as RIM and Amazon used commercial licences for their respective BlackBerry and Kindle products.

Companies which took specification licence, according to Ellison, include IBM, HP and SAP. However, he said Google was “the only company” he knew of that didn’t take any licence.

Google’s defence lawyer asked Ellison if the Java language was free, to which he answered he didn’t know.

“I don’t know if you can copyright a language. I just don’t know the answer to that question,” he said.

Google’s defence lawyer also claimed Ellison was filing the lawsuit against Google’s Android OS as Oracle could not get into the smartphone market itself.

Ellison acknowledged that Oracle had considered creating a Java-based smartphone system and thought about buying RIM or Palm to take on Apple’s iPhone before suing Google over Android. However, talks fell through.

Google CEO Larry Page

Later, Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page took the stand and was questioned as to how particular lines of Oracle’s code appeared on Android.

While Page said he knew there were some disputes about “some files”, he didn’t believe Google did anything wrong.

He also said that examples of code which Ellison claimed was copied from Oracle’s intellectual property “had never been sent”, which he believed was because “there wasn’t very strong evidence”.

Page said he wasn’t personally involved in making sure Google employees working on Android did not have access to Oracle’s IP, saying that Andy Rubin, head of Android at Google, would have been responsible.

However, he said if Oracle’s claims had occurred, Google would take it “very seriously.”

Page will return to the stand again as the court case continues.