Google Inc. Chief Executive Officer Larry Page, disputing claims that the leading search engine operator stole Java software technology from Oracle Corp. (ORCL), told a jury his company “did nothing wrong.”
Page, the first witness today to be called by Oracle attorney David Boies at a trial in federal court in San Francisco, said Google negotiated hard over a partnership with Sun Microsystems Inc., the creator of the Java programming language acquired by Oracle in 2010.
“We really wanted to be able to use Sun’s technology,” Page testified. “When we weren’t able to come to terms on a business partnership, we went down our own path.”
Oracle, based in Redwood City, California, claims in a lawsuit filed in 2010 that Google infringed copyrights and patents for Java in creating the Android operating system, now running on more than 300 million mobile devices.
Google acknowledges using Java to develop Android and Page today confirmed that Google didn’t take a Java license. Google says its use was fair and legal and Google engineers wrote original code for Android. Google rejected a proposal by Sun in 2006 that the search engine company pay $100 million for a three-year technology partnership to build Android jointly, Google’s lawyers said in the case last year.
Android was important to Google “but I would not say it was critical,” according to Page, a co-founder of Mountain View, California-based Google.
‘Respect Intellectual Property’
Google was careful with the technology to ensure that Android and the company “respect intellectual property,” Page testified, smiling frequently at jurors.
He said he didn’t recall or couldn’t speculate about some matters Boies questioned him about, including who Google engineer Tim Lindholm is.
Lindholm wrote a 2010 e-mail saying that he was asked by Page and Google co-founder Sergey Brin to find an alternative to Java and that he determined Google should take a license for the language. Shown the e-mail, and other documents featuring Lindholm, Page said he couldn’t recall the man or giving him any directions concerning Java or whether Lindholm had recommended that Google take a license for Java.
Oracle, the largest maker of database software, alleges Google infringed copyrights for 37 application programming interfaces, or APIs, tools programmers use to write applications. Page said the subject of APIs never came up in Google’s discussions about using Java. Boies showed him Google documents sent to the executive management team that Page was a member of about Java from 2005 that referred to “handset APIs and applications” and “application delivery.”
“We talked a lot about Java, not about Java APIs,” said Page.
“That’s clearly Sun APIs,” said Boies.
“Some?” said Page.
“Sun, Sun APIs,” Boies said.
“It’s not obvious to me what this is about,” Page said after looking at the documents. “I’m not suggesting that we didn’t negotiate with Sun over a myriad of things.”
Lindholm may be called to testify tomorrow.
Oracle is seeking $1 billion in damages and a court order blocking distribution of Android unless Google pays for a license.
The case is Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc. (GOOG), 10-03561, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
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