Google's Page plays hardball with Oracle

Google's Page plays hardball with Oracle

Summary: Google CEO Larry Page returned to a San Francisco court to take the stand as a witness in the legal battle between Google and Oracle over patents and copyrights related to Java.

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Google CEO Larry Page returned to a San Francisco court to take the stand as a witness in the legal battle between Google and Oracle over patents and copyrights related to Java.

Larry Page

Google's Larry Page leaving the court yesterday.
(Credit: CNET)

Yet, as demonstrated during Page's initial testimony on the stand on Tuesday afternoon, as well as during the video of his deposition from last August, Page continuously denied much — if any — knowledge regarding discussions about Java licences and Google engineers copying Java API codes.

Oracle attorney David Boies picked up right where he left off before Judge William Alsup adjourned trial proceedings at the US District Court on Tuesday.

Boies started off by asking Page, "Would it have been a violation of Google policy for Google engineers to copy copyrighted materials of other companies?"

Page replied, "Again, as I said yesterday, I think we did nothing wrong," he said, explaining that his company is "very careful" about what information it did and did not use.

This back-and-forth pattern between Boies and Page continued over the course of nearly an hour, with only a brief respite when Page was cross-examined by Google's lawyers.

Additionally, the tension between the two only seemed to escalate as Boies couldn't get a straight, yes or no answer from Page most of the time.

Take this interaction early in questioning as one example:

Boies: This is a yes or no question. Mr Page, do you, from your own personal knowledge and experience in the industry, know that Sun wanted to avoid fragmentation of the Java platform?

Page: I think they wanted to patrol the Java platform.

Judge Alsup: You can answer that question "yes" or "no", please. You can say "yes" or "no", and give an explanation, or say "I don't know".

Page: I'm sorry. Repeat the exact question.

Boies: I'll try, your honour. Do you know, sir, from your own personal knowledge and experience in the industry, that Sun wanted to avoid fragmentation of the Java platform?

Page: Now or previously?

Boies: Let me break it up. Did you know, in 2005, from your own personal knowledge and experience in the industry, that Sun wanted to avoid fragmentation of the Java platform?

Page: Um, yes, subject to patrol and other things I mentioned.

A further point of tension between Page and Oracle's legal team is whether Page has a working relationship with Tim Lindholm, who Oracle has singled out as an important adviser at Google in regards to implementing Java on Android.

Both on Tuesday and Wednesday, Page maintained that he was not familiar with Lindholm, but simply knew of him. Oracle seems to think differently.

Boies pointed towards an email dated 25 July 2005 about negotiations with Sun related to Java. That email detailed different responsibilities and opinions that Google leaders had at the time in regards to those negotiations. Here are two lines of contention that Boies highlighted:

Deep & Rubin: action to follow up with Sun negotiations regarding open sourcing Java.

And:

Tim: doesn't feel that Sun is a problem regarding the shared issues.

Boies asked Page whether that "Tim" referred to Tim Lindholm. Page replied simply, "I'm not sure which Tim it would be."

To further drum home his point that Page does know Lindholm, Boies offered another email from Lindholm to Andy Rubin, this one dated 6 August 2010, as evidence. Here's the excerpt that Boies highlighted:

What we've been asked to do (by Larry and Sergei [sic]) is to investigate what technical alternatives exist to Java for Android and Chrome. We've been over a bunch of these, and think they all suck. We conclude that we need to negotiate a licence for Java under the terms we need.

Noting that "Sergei" is spelled wrong (to some quiet laughter from the court) Page evaded Boies' questioning again when asked about this and his awareness of Java licences.

Boies asked Page whether he was told that Google needed to negotiate licences with Java. Page replied that he couldn't recall that time — except that he knew "we worked hard to negotiate a partnership with Sun".

Again, Judge Alsup interceded by addressing Page, "Most of the questions are yes or no, and you should try to answer in that spirit. So let's do that. Is it true that you never got a licence?"

Page replied, "I'm not sure whether or not we got a licence to anything."

Boies asked whether Google ever obtained a licence from Sun or Oracle for Java. Page said no.

Boies continued asking whether Google uses certain Sun or Oracle APIs in Android, and whether Page was aware that Sun includes those APIs in its copyrights. Page admitted that he is aware that Google uses Java APIs on Android, but that he has no idea what Sun copyrighted or not.

Finally, Boies asked if Page ever asked anyone about the copyrights, and Page said he couldn't remember.

On Tuesday, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison asserted while under oath that Google was the only company he knew of that was using Java APIs without licences from either Sun or Oracle. Boies followed up on this, and asked Page if he was aware of any other company besides Google that uses Java APIs without a licence.

Page responded that he's not "an expert" on the subject, but he singled out IBM as one example, saying that he knew "IBM has had a long and tortuous relationship with Sun over Java".

Boies asked Page if it was his testimony that IBM does not have a licence from Sun or Oracle. Page admitted he didn't know exactly, pointing out that Apache Harmony has some relationship with IBM.

"I don't know what their licence is, but it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't," Page added.

This might not be the last we see of Larry Page on the stand. Unlike Ellison, who was sent home after testifying on Tuesday morning and was said not to be required to return unless subpoenaed, Page was placed on recall by Oracle's lawyers.

That's because Page was unable to identify a piece of evidence presented by Boies, which presented a debate between both legal teams. After a short but heated discussion, Judge Alsup declared that Oracle lawyers could not press Page any further on this until another witnesses could correctly identify said document.

Via ZDNet US

Topics: Google, Legal, Open Source, Oracle

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