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It's CEO v CEO in Oracle v Google

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison arrives for a court appearance in San Francisco on Tuesday April 17, 2012.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison arrives for a court appearance in San Francisco on Tuesday April 17, 2012.

The chief executives of Oracle and Google took center stage in court overnight 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 CEO Larry Ellison and Google CEO Larry Page both appeared on the stand in Oracle's high stakes lawsuit against Google over the Android operating system. Ellison, 67, is a Silicon Valley veteran while Page, 39, cuts a younger and more unpolished figure.

Oracle sued Google in August 2010, saying Google's Android mobile operating system tramples its intellectual property rights to the Java programming language. 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.

"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.

Oracle acquired Java when bought Sun Microsystems in 2010. In 2009, Oracle considered the feasibility of buying BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIM) and Palm to make a foray into the mobile device market, Ellison testified.

But 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 licences. He said other companies ranging from Samsung to had taken licences.

"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 relaxed on the stand as Oracle attorney David Boies asked him to outline the attractions of Java for programmers. Ellison is no stranger to court, having testified in 2010 against SAP in a copyright lawsuit.

Ellison was then repeatedly questioned by Google's lawyer, who zeroed in on his idea to build an Oracle smartphone to battle Apple 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 market, including buying RIM, which he said was too expensive at the time, and Palm, which Hewlett-Packard ended up acquiring.

Ellison contends that in 2010, he tried to persuade Google's then-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.

Ellison kept a straight face under cross-examination, while Page rarely looked at Oracle attorney David Boies but instead consistently smiled at the jury as Boies delivered his questions. At one point, Boies asked Page if he ever inquired whether Google copied Java code for Android.

"I don't recall asking anyone that," Page said.

No inroads

Google attorney Robert Van Nest acknowledged 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 US District Judge William Alsup started on Monday April 16 and is expected to last at least eight weeks.

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8 comments so far

  • Is it me, or Lazza is looking more and more like Mickey Rourke?...

    Date and time
    April 18, 2012, 1:19PM
    • They must have the same surgeon.

      Date and time
      April 18, 2012, 2:39PM
  • When it comes to writing software especially version 1.0 to demo the concept to investors, you have to make a choice between writing the source code in either Oracle Java or Microsoft .NET Given that Oracle Java write once run anywhere slogan illustrated the cross plate form benefits of the Java language, made it for many the preferred choice for Version 1. With statements like "Just because something is open-source doesn't mean you can do whatever you want with it," by the CEO of Oracle now in the open. The only winner out of this case I can foresee will be Microsoft.

    Date and time
    April 18, 2012, 2:10PM
    • Not at all. Are you saying .NET licenses are less restrictive that Java? Code released to the public domain or open source usually has a license with it. While you may have a wide scope, you certainly can't do absolutely whatever you want with open source software.

      Date and time
      April 18, 2012, 3:57PM
    • Microsoft? Are you serious?
      Who knows who will "win" this case. In fact, it probably does not matter.
      Microsoft's platform is dead and buried.

      Date and time
      April 18, 2012, 11:59PM
    • What I'm saying is that both API's are governed by the terms of the license they are issued under. If it was mentioned that the JAVA API was used in a project that I was funding. I would want some assurances that the project wouldn’t be subject to litigation over copyright or patent issues involving the API used, in the future. Could you give me a money back guarantee on an open source license which is now being tested in Court? Not being aware of any issues involving the Microsoft .NET license, in my opinion the conclusion is reasonable.

      Date and time
      April 19, 2012, 3:02PM
  • Larry Ellison is all about money. He screwed the Oracle database product and turned it into bloatware that locks suckers in for years and he did with cheap crap Indian programmers. The sooner this clown dies, the better off the IT industry will be.

    Date and time
    April 18, 2012, 5:57PM
    • Silicon Valley is becoming like the South Park episode of "Everybody sues Everybody".

      .... ok I am now waiting for South Park's lawyers to sue me .... "just because I have watched the episode it does not mean I can quote it".

      Date and time
      April 19, 2012, 8:29AM

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