Google Inc. rejected an offer by Sun Microsystems Inc to pay $100 million in royalties to use Java in its development of the Android operating system before Sun was acquired by Oracle Corp. (ORCL), a Google lawyer said.
Robert Van Nest, Google’s attorney, said yesterday at a hearing in federal court in San Francisco that the proposed $100 million three-year “all-in” deal in 2006 was for a technology partnership to jointly build Android, rather than for just a patent license.
Separately, Oracle won permission yesterday to question Google Chief Executive Officer Larry Page in a deposition about his knowledge of the search-engine company’s alleged infringement of patents that Oracle got when it acquired Sun.
Oracle, based in Redwood City, California, is seeking as much as $6.1 billion in damages from Google in a lawsuit that claims Android software uses technology that infringes Oracle’s patents. Google denies infringing and asked U.S. District Judge William Alsup at yesterday’s hearing to throw out Oracle’s damage estimate.
Alsup said it appeared that Google “has a product out there that is in direct violation of these patents,” and pressed Van Nest to explain why the Mountain View, California- based company discussed a license with Sun.
“There wasn’t any specific discussion of patents,” Van Nest said. While a few lines of code in Android are “identical” to Java, that code probably came from a third party, he said. “We are investigating that,” Van Nest said.
Android uses a Java programming language that is open to anyone for free, said Van Nest.
Alsup cited a document to a Google executive from Google’s Android project leader that said, “‘We conclude that we need to negotiate a license for Java.”
“Don’t you think a good lawyer will convince a jury that it’s a license for patents?” Alsup said.
While Oracle’s damages may be in the millions or billions of dollars, Alsup said it was “crazy” for Oracle to equate its damages to the entire market value of Android.
Michael Jacobs, Oracle’s attorney, told the judge that Google adopted “the entire architecture” of Java into Android.
“Our position is that there is no infringement, there is no willful infringement,” Van Nest said.
Oracle sought to depose Page about negotiations from 2005 to 2010 between Sun and Google over a Java license for Android and Page’s decision to acquire Android due to its strategic value, according to today’s court filing.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu ruled that Oracle may depose Page for two hours “soley on topics relevant to the willfulness of defendant’s alleged patent infringement, and the value of Android” to Google, according to the order.
The case is Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc. (GOOG), 10-03561, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco)
To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org