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Google Needed License for Java, Sun’s McNealy Testifies

Former Sun Microsystems Inc. executives disagreed in court on whether Google Inc. needed a license when it used Sun’s Java programming language to develop Android software for mobile phones.

Ex-Sun Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Schwartz, testifying today for the search engine company in its trial of a lawsuit filed by Oracle Corp., said Google needed a license only if it wanted to use the brand name Java for Android.

Sun founder Scott McNealy, testifying for Oracle, which owns Java through its 2010 buyout of Sun, said Java’s specifications, used by Google in Android, had to be paid for with a license.

Oracle accused Google in a 2010 lawsuit of stealing Java intellectual property to make Android. Oracle claims Java copyrights and patents are infringed by Android and it’s owed $1 billion in damages. A federal jury may deliver a verdict on the copyright claims as early as next week.

Google attorneys and witnesses told the jury that the parts of Java that Google used didn’t require a license and Sun never asked for a license after its talks with Google to co-develop Android broke down.

“We wanted them to take a license for Java and call their phone a Java phone,” the ponytailed Schwartz told the jury after being shown e-mail in which Google executives discussed taking a Java license.

Google’s Decision

When Google chose not to license the Java brand and instead used parts of the Java platform to build the Android system for smartphones, “we didn’t like it, but we weren’t going to try to stop it,” he said.

“Upon Oracle buying Sun, you were terminated as chief executive,” Oracle’s attorney Michael A. Jacobs said.

“I believe I resigned,” Schwartz said. “They already had a CEO.”

McNealy was then called to the stand, where he testified that while Sun didn’t charge for Java, a free computer language, the company licensed Java application programming interfaces, or APIs, the parts of Java that Google ended up using. He compared the APIs to architectural drawings for a house. Oracle alleges Google infringed 37 Java APIs.

“This license would allow you to use the architectural drawings, but you could build your own house,” said McNealy.

Google’s attorney Robert Van Nest asked McNealy if he made a lot of money when Oracle purchased Sun in 2010.

Cashed Out

“I cashed out a couple of hundred million, $150 million, of stock,” McNealy said.

Van Nest played a video of McNealy speaking at a 2010 conference in which he said “interfaces should all be published and open.”

“Open doesn’t mean throw it over the wall into the public domain,” McNealy said.

The case is Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., 10-03561, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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