Oracle tries to rebound with help from Sun co-founder

Oracle tries to rebound with help from Sun co-founder

Summary: Oracle tries to use the testimony of Sun's co-founder to essentially null everything said by former CEO Jonathan Schwartz on Thursday morning.


SAN FRANCISCO -- Following former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz's eager but sometimes tension-filled appearance on the stand on Thursday morning, Sun co-founder Scott McNealy appeared for testimony at the U.S. District Court.

See alsoFormer Sun CEO: We would have paid Google for Java phone Trial: Former Sun CEO gets into catty fight with Oracle lawyer

McNealy was actually called to the stand by Oracle, even though Google is still in the middle of presenting its case. Google counsel Robert Van Nest stressed to Judge William Alsup that he wanted the jury to know that Google was accommodating Oracle with the timing of this testimony.

It wasn't hard to see why Oracle wanted McNealy in the courtroom before closing statements in the copyright portion of the 8-week trial. McNealy affirmed to Oracle counsel David Boies that Java was "extremely valuable" to Sun and that it involved "lots of intellectual property."

Going over the restrictions that Sun had in place through licensing, McNealy explained that the "most important one, with respect to Java, is to maintain compatibility because that was one of the most important value propositions that we offered."

In an effort to null the testimony the jury heard from Schwartz less than 30 minutes prior, Boies asked if it was ever Sun's policy to allow any company to implement an incompatible version of Java so long as they didn't call it Java.

"I don't recall that was ever a strategy that we pursued nor allowed in the marketplace," replied McNealy.

When asked if he saw Schwartz's November 2007 blog post (now a notable piece of evidence bounced around by both sides to their own -- but different -- advantages in this case) praising Google's announcement of Android, McNealy looked down but half laughed.

"If you don't tell him, no. I didn't read it," McNealy said with a slight grin, adding he only read occasional entries.

Nevertheless, he asserted that it was company policy that those kinds of blogs were not corporate, but rather personal.

Despite an objection from Van Nest, Boies asked about if allowing an incompatible version of Java to exist on the market would adversely affect Sun's economics. After a long explanation, McNealy finally said it would have a "negative" effect.

"It was a very clear corporate strategy for the Java platform to stay compatible," McNealy said.

Up until Thursday, the technology -- especially the Java APIs -- has been front and center in this case. Possibly seeing the road to closing statements getting shorter, both sides of the courtroom have become more severe -- and personal -- in their lines of questioning and tactics.

Earlier in the day, Schwartz got into a rather heated, back-and-forth conversation with Oracle counsel Michael Jacobs, which eventually devolved to a discussion about if Schwartz had been fired from Sun or he resigned.

Upon cross-examination, Van Nest took an approach that tried to convey McNealy as an Oracle insider, possibly calling his testimony for Oracle into question.

Van Nest commenced by asking if McNealy is a "close personal friend" of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. Looking surprised by the question as his eyes shifted a bit, McNealy affirmed this to be true.

Furthermore, Van Nest asked if McNealy had ever referred to Ellison as a "national economic hero."

"That's correct. Anyone who pays that many taxes is a national economic hero," McNealy affirmed to some laughter in the courtroom.

Van Nest also brought up the fact that McNealy had once said in public that the Norman Mineta International Airport in San Jose should be renamed after Ellison, to which McNealy quipped that "airports should be named after taxpayers, not politicians."

Van Nest also asked McNealy how much he cashed out after Oracle acquired Sun in 2010. McNealy couldn't provide an exact figure, but estimated that it was approximately $150 million to $200 million in stock.


Topics: Oracle, Google, Open Source, Software Development

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  • "I would have paid that butcher to slaughter my daughter."

    Would that statement make the butcher innocent? Google's defense is laughable.
  • So Scott, why DID Sun allow Google to create Dalvik?

    [quote]???I don???t recall that was ever a strategy that we pursued nor allowed in the marketplace,??? replied McNealy.[/quote]
    And yet allow Google to create Dalvik you did. Jonathan Schwartz has testified that he knew what Google was doing, so Sun/Oracle doesn't get to claim ignorance.
    • Back then Sun wanted universal java acceptance.

      To increase their leverage hoping that they would gain from partnerships. They were just too restrictive just as Oracle is today.
    • More questions for Scott McNealy

      1. Were you involved in any high-level discussions at Sun Microsystems regarding Google's Dalvik? If so, when did they occur and who else was involved?

      2. What was the nature of the discussions? Were options for dealing with Google's Dalvik discussed? If so, what were the options considered?

      3. If suing Google, as Oracle is now, was not considered an option, why not? If it was considered an option, why did Sun choose not to sue Google?

      [i]Scott McNealy's role at Sun from 2005 to Oracle's acquisition:
      "Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer from April 2004 to April 2006
      "Chairman of the Board of Directors from April 2006 to January 2010[/i]
      Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Reminds me of the good old days when Sun sued Microsoft over Java

    But, since I guess the defendant is not Microsoft in this case, all those that cheered on Sun back in the day will not recognize their own hypocrisy when they defend Google's actions.
    Your Non Advocate
    • And again: MS made an incompatible Java *and called it Java*

      So MS was sued for trying to "embrace, extend, extinguish" Java. It signed up to and then violated the Java TCK conditions. OTOH, Google created something called Dalvik that used the Java programming language, with Sun's CEO cheering them on! Nor did Google sign up to the TCK.

      So I'm baffled how you can think these two cases are remotely comparable.
      • MS had the more secure and highest performance implementation of Java of

        anyone. And it was 100% fully compatible. They added extensions like everyone else and they made all their extensions disabled by default. Sun was just embarassed by how quickly MS was out performing them in both jvm security/perf and how much more quickly they were innovating with the extensions. Sun just couldnt keep up and feared everyone would use windows because MS java was always several steps ahead of suns.
        Johnny Vegas
      • "Like everyone else"?

        Who [i]else[/i] broke the TCK by extending their Java implementation? Please name as many as you can...
      • MS Version Broke the Whole Point of Java

        Microsoft's version of Java did have better performance on Windows than the Sun version [i]if you created Windows specific Java code[/i]. That broke the whole point of Java which was designed as a virtual machine so that code written for it would be crossplatform and cross-architecture. Also, Microsoft's version was licensed to be called Java, which diluted the Java brand for Sun. Basically, the problem with Microsoft Java was that it violated the license agreement that Sun had made with Microsoft. It wasn't a copyright case. This all happened while Sun's Java was completely proprietary.
      • @zogg

        IBM's websphere has some proprietory extensions around J2EE but they have a license
      • I suspect you're talking about something else entirely.

        [quote] IBM's websphere has some proprietory extensions around J2EE but they have a license[/quote]
        Are you claiming that IBM has altered the bytecode and/or the JVM, and still calls it "Java"?
  • McNealy is biased and unreliable

    He should have stayed with what does better: bashing M$ and Gate$, not talking about java, licenses and FOSS.
    The Linux Geek
    • Schwartz is biased and unreliable

      He should have stayed with what does better: schmoozing and partying, not talking about java, licenses and FOSS.
      William Farrel
    • And its McNealy that sets the corporate policy, not Schwartz.

      Schwartz's personal wishes dont matter, suns corporate policy is what mattered. And without google+sun contract oracle is fully within its rights to change them to what ever it wants when it buys sun
      Johnny Vegas
      • Really?

        CEO's don't set policy? Wow, who would have known. By 2006 Schwartz was CEO, McNealy was out.
      • Agreement was made then for forever.

        If company policy is not to bill from using API's and company policy is openly to support their software platform usage and even CEO (who is responsible for company policies and strategies in first hand) posts in public a celebrated responses, it doesn't mean anything?

        When SUN gave permission to Google to do what it did, Oracle can not take them away later. As the permission was given before Oracle had nothing to say about it. And Oracle can not change the history by reversing the permission in the first place.

        Situation is exactly like that one artists takes two photos. And then gives a other negative as gift to someone else to use freely.
        Then when artists has sold the own negative, the owner starts demanding that the person who got the gift returns it and tries to deny his/her rights to use that negative as he please.

        The new buyer did not bought rights to all older deals what stands today. It was public agreement that Google does not pay anything to SUN then or in future. And Oracle can not take that agreement away.

        That is reason why in IP infiringment situations it is very important that owner of that IP protects their rights at the first place. Otherwise in later they can not demand anything back. And if IP rights are transferred (sold, leased etc) to new party, they can not start changing what have been agreements before. Situation would be totally different if Google would now take the Java API's and the Closed Source version instead the Open Source version API's in use.
  • I have been harsh on McNealy...

    His comments about taxpayers are spot on!

    Scummy politicians love to name things after themselves...but its the taxpayers who do all the work... the politicians are nothing more than a gang of thieves. Airports should be named after tax payers--not tax spenders.
  • Re: Are extended families a thing of the past or are they still important ?

    what Louis answered I can't believe that a person able to earn $9928 in a few weeks on the internet. have you read this web site ^^^ <b>getyouralldesires<b><i></i>.<b></b><b>blogspot<b><i></i>.<b></b><b>com<b>
  • Ruling against MS on Java

    If the ruling against MS on Java about 10 years ago was a fair one then Google should be forced to remove 'android' and whatever they call it from their 'platform' and should be penalized at least 3 billion.
    • Not so.

      M$ called it Java. Google called it Android. World of difference.