Oracle and Google bosses clash over patents in court

Larry Ellison and Larry Page have appeared in court in San Francisco to give evidence in Oracle's patent litigation against Android

Google and Oracle's chiefs have given evidence in court in San Francisco, as Oracle's patent and copyright infringement lawsuit against Google's use of Java in Android finally got under way.

Larry Ellison

Oracle boss Larry Ellison (centre) arrives at court in San Francisco, as his company's case against Google over patents in Android got under way. Image credit: James Martin/CNET News

On Tuesday, chief executive Larry Ellison gave evidence to support Oracle's assertion that Google should pay licence fees and damages for its use of the programming language in the mobile operating system. The database giant has three types of Java licences, picked up in its purchase of Sun, Ellison told the court.

"The only company I know of that hasn't taken any of these licences is Google," he said, according to ZDNet UK's sister site

I don't know if you can copyright a language.

– Larry Ellison, Oracle

Java specification licences allow a company to view Java documentation and to build source code. After a code compatibility test (TCK), which the company must pay to carry out, it can then use the licence with no further payment. Ellison was questioned by Google lawyer Bob Van Nest, who asked whether the Java language was free.

"I don't know if you can copyright a language," Ellison told the court.

Van Nest argued that Oracle initially supported Android, but then sought litigation when Oracle did not realise plans to get into the smartphone market.

Oracle is seeking at least $1.16bn (£700m) in damages from Google. Android is used on over 300 million devices worldwide, according to a blog post by Andy Rubin, Google's mobile and digital content chief.

Enter Page 

Google chief executive Larry Page was quizzed by Oracle lawyer David Boies in a video deposition shown in court. Boies presented an email Rubin sent to Page in 2005 as evidence that the Google executives had discussed licensing Android from Oracle.

"My proposal is that we take a licence that specifically grants the right for us to open source our product," said the email. "We'll pay Sun for the licensee and the TCK. Before we release our product to open source community we'll make sure our JVM [Java Virtual Machine] passes all TCK certification tests so that we don't create fragmentation. Before a product gets brought to market a manufacturer will have to be a Sun licensee, pay appropriate royalties, and pass the TCK again."

In the video deposition, Page professed not to know the meaning of 'TCK'.

Page later appeared in court, and was cross-examined by Boies. Page asserted that Oracle had never presented evidence to show that Google had copied Sun's intellectual property by using lines of code in Android.

Oracle presented slides to back its argument that Google had copied lines of code from Sun intellectual property.

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