JAX London 2014: A retrospective
Google present their case

Oracle vs Google – Google Executive Chairman Schmidt details negotiations with Sun for Android

ChrisMayer
Schmidt

Oracle rests their case and lets Google take the ball in copyright proceedings. Andy Rubin makes his third appearance in two days sparring over fragmentation plus Google exec chairman Eric Schmidt has his say

After six days without really having a chance to present their side of the case, Google now hold the baton of power in the Android trial against Oracle.

Andy Rubin was everpresent on Day 7 bookending the testimony of Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Firstly, he finished up his testimony from the day before, fending off more questions from Oracle’s lead attorney David Boies and once again the two sides clashed over those emails. However, this time the exchange was about the email headers and whether the people at the top of the email actually refer to which parties are involved. Petty legal nitpicking seems to be en vogue in this case

Tension overflowed from Monday after Rubin had admitted the java.lang APIs were Sun property. As Boies pressed Rubin on Android fragmentation, more disagreements occurred with Rubin saying that his definition was different to Sun’s and that he hadn’t asked them for a definition at any point.

He said:

It’s hard for me to say what other people are thinking…I know that Sun had a definition of fragmentation that Sun used over and over again.

After a nudge by Judge William Alsup, Rubin clarified his definition of fragmentation in this case as being an ‘incompatible implementation of Java.’

Rubin returned later on as Google’s second witness adding in some more useful information, although mostly clarifying things from the day before. When questioned by Google counsel Robert Van Nest, Rubin confirmed that other languages (JavaScript, Python and Lua) were options that Google could have used to build the Android platform, but Java remained the No.1 choice given that in 2005, Java was the only feasible choice for any phone.

Rubin confirmed discussion had taken place with Sun saying:

We saw this as an opportunity to open up Java, and we asked Sun to contribute to the open source community. 

Yet Rubin insisted that Google were completely cool about moving forward without a licence, with the clean room implementation of Java for Android comfortably in the background. He also stated that the Android developer team were given clear instructions what parts of the Java language they couldn’t use (i.e from the Sun website).

The main course of the day was served up by Google Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt, as he was first up in Google’s line of questioning. Schmidt gave us a history lesson on how Android came into existence and also his CTO role at Sun building Java saying

We used to say it was building a new religion, a new way of thinking.

Put the software out there and let the people modify it any way they want.

You could simply make your own version of Java. You couldn’t call it Java, but you could do whatever you wanted with it.

Schmidt was adamant throughout that the use of Java in Android was ‘legally correct’. He affirmed Google’s talks with Sun over Java, but they broke off after Sun’s hesitancy to give Google too much control when it came to open sourcing Java. Sun wanted $30-50m for the licence, which Google were willing to pay according Schmidt, but weren’t comfortable with the restraints in place.

He also said he would meet with Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz on a regular basis and this issue of Google’s Java use was never raised between the two and their relationship was very cordial.

After talks broke down, Schmidt confirmed Google went for the clean room approach. When interrogated over the trial’s most important talking point, APIs, Schmidt firstly confirmed no one at Sun referred to the APIs as ‘blueprints’. He added:

The Java language is not useful without the ability to make something happen, and what the API does is allow you to make something happen.

So Google remain steadfast in their opinion that APIs can be used creatively to make something bigger and better. Andy Rubin is set to make yet another appearance on Wednesday, as well as the creator of the Dalvik virtual machine, Dan Bernstein. The case continues.

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