Day 2 of Court Proceedings

Google vs Oracle Day Two – Oracle wanted to take on Android

Chris Mayer

Google’s defence over the use of Java patents in Android has begun. Day two saw Oracle’s chief executive Larry Ellison take to the stand.

Finally after protracted legal wrangling, the Oracle vs Google case has finally hit the Californian courtroom. There’s no doubt that this landmark tech case will have wide-ranging ramifications for the industry, with the main disagreement between the two giants surrounding whether APIs are intellectual property.

Day Two saw Oracle’s Chief Executive Larry Ellison take to the stand as Oracle’s first witness, who had some very interesting admissions to make, notably that Oracle were considering entering the smartphone race in competition to Google’s Android.

Whilst this is hardly a surprise (given how much potential that market has/had), the fact that Ellison admits that Oracle had considered diversifying into smartphones, by buying an already established player such as Palm or RIM. Note that these two have fallen on hard times since, and perhaps Oracle’s intervention could have kept them at the sharp end.

Ellison told the court, whilst being questioned by a Google lawyer:

I had an idea that we could compete with everyone in the smartphone business

It was an idea I wanted to explore. We explored it and decided it was a bad idea.

Google attorney Robert Van Nest had a different theory over Oracle’s reluctance to take the plunge into mobile saying:

The problem came in 2009 when Oracle came onto the scene. Oracle wanted to go into the mobile market. They tried to build their own mobile phone and failed. They tried a second approach and that failed. Lastly, they tried to partner with Google on Android, and that failed.

The most salient action of the day surrounded the parties’ stance over intellectual property rights. Right from the get go in Google’s opening statement, they made their stance over the use of Java patents crystal clear, stating that whilst Java was under Sun Microsystems rule, there was never an issue. Google believe that the Java language should be free, therefore the APIs are as well.

The statement read:

Google didn’t need a license to use Java in Android. The source for Android was written by Google engineers or it came from other Open Source projects. Yes, it is true that Google negotiated with Sun to build Android together. Google put 3 years, 100K hours and millions of dollars into it. Android source was publicly posted (the source code for Android). Sun could see it. They could download the source code for it. Sun didn’t complain. Jonathan Schwartz the CEO of Sun, posted on his blog on Sun’s web site, congratulated Google for Android in 2007, saying “We support Android’s use of Java”.

Oracle sit in the other camp, believing that due to the amount of work that goes into creating the APIs, they should be considered as intellectual property. This is of course the crux of their case.

Ellison also made reassurances that Oracle was 100% committed to Java, saying that ‘[of] all the things we have ever purchased, by far the most important we ever purchased was Java.’ Possibly for a sense of bravado but it’s pretty clear that Java is at the forefront of Oracle’s plans and they will do everything to keep it that way.

The last 20 minutes of Day Two saw Google’s head Larry Page testifying for Google, as we can be sure to expect from him tomorrow. The only important part in that brief period of time was him saying ‘I think we did nothing wrong.’

The case continues…

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