Oracle-Google Trial: Former Sun Executives Square Off Over Java License
April 27, 2012

Oracle-Google Trial: Former Sun Executives Square Off Over Java License

Two former Sun Microsystems executives squared off in court on Thursday over whether Google needed a license when it used Sun's Java programming language to develop its Android software for mobile phones.

The trial stems from a lawsuit Oracle filed against Google in 2010, in which it accused the Internet search giant of stealing Java intellectual property to develop Android.  Oracle claims Java copyrights and patents are infringed by Android, and that it is owed $1 billion in damages.

Oracle owns Java through its 2010 acquisition of Sun.

The testimony by the two former Sun executives came as the copyright phase of the trial wraps up, with closing statements expected within days.

Testifying for Google, former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz said Google only needed a Java license if it wanted to use the brand name Java for Android.

Testifying on behalf of Oracle, Sun co-founder and former chairman Scott McNealy, said Java's specifications, used by Google in Android, had to be paid for with a license.

Google attorneys and witnesses told the jury that the parts of Java that Google used did not require a license, and that Sun had never asked for a license after negotiations with Google to co-develop Android fell apart.

"We wanted them to take a license for Java and call their phone a Java phone," Schwartz said upon being shown e-mail in which Google executives discussed taking a Java license

When Google decided not to license the Java brand, but instead use parts of the Java platform to build Android for mobile phones, "we didn't like it, but we weren't going to try to stop it," he said.

Schwartz continued to reiterate that what Google did was not a violation of any of Sun's policies or intellectual property.  As long as a company didn't call their implementation Java, they could ship their version without any sort of licensing from Sun, he said.

"Upon Oracle buying Sun, you were terminated as chief executive," Oracle attorney Michael Jacobs asked Schwarz.

"I believe I resigned," Schwartz replied.

"They already had a CEO."

Next, McNealy was called to testify, and said that although Sun did not charge for Java, the company licensed Java application programming interfaces (APIs), the parts of Java that Google ultimately used for Android.

Oracle alleges Google infringed 37 of its Java APIs.

McNealy likened the APIs to architectural drawings for a house.

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

Google attorney Robert Van Nest played a video of McNealy speaking at a 2010 conference, in which he said that "interfaces should all be published and open."

"Open doesn't mean throw it over the wall into the public domain," McNealy replied.

Van Nest asked McNealy if he made a lot of money when Oracle acquired Sun in 2010.

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

A federal jury could deliver its verdict on this phase of the trial as early as next week.

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