Google Says It Didn’t Need License to Use Java in Android
Google Inc. (GOOG), whose Android software runs on more than 300 million mobile devices, denied stealing Oracle Corp.’ technology to develop the program.
Google outlined a defense today in federal court in San Francisco against Oracle’s allegations of copyright and patent infringement. Oracle, the largest maker of database software, is seeking $1 billion in damages and a court order blocking Google from distributing Android unless it takes a license.
Oracle’s lawyer told the jury yesterday that Google knew as far back as 2005 it had to license the Java programming language, now owned by Oracle, to develop Android.
“Google didn’t need a license to use the Java language in Android,” Robert Van Nest, an attorney for Google, said today in federal court in San Francisco on the second day of an eight- week trial.
Oracle Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison will testify at the trial, the Redwood City, California-based company said in a filing yesterday. Oracle also said it plans to call Mountain View, California-based Google’s CEO, Larry Page.
Michael Jacobs, an attorney for Oracle, yesterday showed the jury e-mails he said outlined how Google executives knew the company had to license Java technology and then tried to hide evidence of Java code in Android.
“My proposal is that we take a license,” Andy Rubin, a Google senior vice president, said in an October 2005 e-mail to Page shown to the jury. Rubin said Google would have to pay for the license, the e-mail said.
A Google engineer, Tim Lindholm, said in a February 2006 e- mail that the company was in negotiations for a Java license. Google didn’t agree to the terms of a type of license that allows companies to use Java code and write new code on top of it which “you have to give back to the open-source community,” Jacobs said.
“You can’t keep it for yourself,” the Oracle lawyer said. “They broke the basic rules of the Java programming community.”
In another e-mail shown to the jury, one Google executive tells another to “scrub out a few more Js” from Android code. The “J” stood for Java, Jacobs said.
Oracle also alleges that Google infringed two Java patents that a court-appointed expert estimated are worth $2.8 million in damages.
The first phase of the trial will deal with allegations of copyright infringement. Phase two will address patent claims. If jurors find that Oracle’s (ORCL) intellectual property was infringed, they will decide in a third phase whether the company is entitled to damages.
Java, developed by Sun Microsystems in the mid-1990s, lets developers write programs that work across different operating systems and on a variety of computers. A key building block of the World Wide Web, it’s widely used in business applications. The software also runs on billions of mobile devices. Oracle acquired Sun in 2010 for $7.4 billion.
Van Nest said today that his client will prove four points during the trial: that Sun gave Java to the public; that Google built Android using “free and open” technologies; that Sun approved of Android’s use of Java; and that Google made fair use of the language in Android.
Google rejected an offer by Sun to accept $100 million in royalties to use Java in Android’s development, Van Nest said last year at a hearing in the case. The proposed three-year deal in 2006 was for a technology partnership to build Android jointly, rather than for just a patent license, he said.
Google, operator of the biggest search engine, relies on Android, the most popular U.S. smartphone operating system, to compete with Apple Inc. (AAPL) in the mobile-phone market and to cut its dependence on traditional Web-search advertising.
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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