Day Three

Google vs Oracle – Google CEO Page doesn’t remember Java email

Chris Mayer

The saga continues with Google CEO Larry Page edgy and evasive in court under cross-examination

The court case in California between Oracle and Google has continued into Day Three, with Google’s CEO Larry Page painting a decidely different picture to Larry Ellison’s, as he took to the stand to defend his company’s use of Java patents in Android.

Page appeared much more evasive than his Oracle counterpart who appeared the day previously, wriggling clear of questions posed by Oracle’s key lawyer David Boies, who has sparred with the best of them (ie. Bill Gates) over his career. On more than one occassion, Judge William Alsup, presiding over the case, castigated Page telling him to answer the question with a straight yes or no answer.

His near-hour long extensive interrogation at the stand featured some tense moments, as Page spent most of the time looking at the twelve-strong jury rather than directly at Boies when underfire. Page made some interesting statements such as admitting that Google had indeed built the Android platform without purchasing a license to use the Java technology – but because they didn’t need to.

He told the courtroom, speaking of Java’s creators, Sun Microsystems, “it would have saved us a lot of time and trouble to use their technology” before adding, “we ended up making a big investment in our own technology, and it works really well.”

One stark statement from Page was that Android is “important, but not critical” to Google – which is a bold claim to make.

The centrepiece of Oracle’s argument – the damning Lindholm email which Google tried seven times to remove from proceedings, caused much contention again. The document between Android head of development Andy Rubin and employee Tim Lindholm contains details of Google execs wanting to find viable alternatives to Java for building Android, swiftly coming to the conclusion that there weren’t any. Page said on numerous occasions he didn’t recall seeing this evidence, nor knowing Tim Lindholm ‘particularly’.

He said:

It sounds like Tim was somebody assigned to do this, probably by Mr. Rubin.

Strangely, Page also said later that he meets and confers with many Google employees during any given week.

Boies’ line of questioning mostly revolved around trying to prove that Page and other Google executives were indeed aware that they’d have to pay some of the license fee stretching back to 2005 for Java. Boies earlier asked whether Google has a policy against copying other companies’ software, to which Page replied that he wasn’t aware of specific policies adding, “I think we do a lot to respect IP (intellectual property).”

Under questioning from Robert Van Hest (Google’s attorney) Page said that Google would have preferred to have entered into a business partnership with Sun Microsystems, rather than Oracle, which tallies with the opening statements. Page added that this would have saved vital time getting Android to market but the two parties couldn’t come to an agreement. So Google opted to proceed using the version of Java in the public domain.

Page left the courtroom smiling, but it was far from a relaxing session under examination. He is expected to be recalled at a later date, as the trial is set to run for about eight weeks.

This case, as ever, continues…

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