Oracle, Google trial: Page vs. Ellison on the stand

One thing has become clear at the Oracle v. Google trial: CEOs Larry Ellison and Larry Page could not be more different from one another if they tried.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor


Ellison leaves the courtroom. Credit: James Martin, CNET

The CEOs of both Oracle and Google were called to testify earlier this week in the two's grand stand trial over intellectual property claims.

On the stand, it became clear that Larry Ellison and Larry Page could not be more different from one another if they tried.

One would clearly hope that both of these executives had been thoroughly prepped for cross-examination by their respective legal teams ahead of the long-awaited trial. They've certainly had enough time to do so since this lawsuit was first filed two years ago.

Ellison was the first to take the stand at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Tuesday morning. As ever, Ellison showed up confident and ready to talk. He answered most of the questions directly without hesitation, and he appeared to know what he was talking about when questioned by both Oracle and Google lawyers.

The only part where he might have seemed a little fazed -- or even hostile -- was when questioned by Google attorney Bob Van Nest over whether or not discussions involving letting Google engineers take Oracle’s version of Java and put it into Android was in fact a "joint project."

Ellison seemed fairly resistant to call this a "joint project," but after hearing himself call it that in a previous deposition video, Ellison threw his hands up and relented, "I called it a joint project. Okay."

Page, on the other hand, is a completely different story.

When questioned rather rigorously by Oracle attorney David Boies, most of Page's responses fell along the lines of "I don't recall" or "I don't know."

Page repeatedly evaded questions about whether or not he was aware of discussions, dating from as far back as 2005 up to 2010, about licensing Java for use in building Android.


Google CEO Larry Page leaving the courtroom. Credit: CNET

Also when responding, Page spent most of his time facing and addressing the jury, made up of seven women and five men, rather than Boies.

At one point when Boies reexamined Page on Wednesday, Boies became so exasperated that when Page asked Boies to repeat his question, Boies loudly said the word "Sun" (as in Sun Microsystems) three times -- even spelling it out "S-U-N."

That was in reference to an email sent by Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile at Google, to his team in 2005, which outlined the opinions and responsibilities of certain Google executives about an unspecified project.

Boies had highlighted this line:

sergey: application delivery part of APIs (Yes, but actual delivery is a negotiation.)

Boies asserted that it clearly had something to do with negotiations with Sun, but Page continued to state that he wasn't sure what that meant.

To be fair, both Ellison and Page made some missteps when speaking. Ellison said that he wasn't sure if Java was free, while Page said that "I’m not sure whether or not we got a license to anything." (One obviously -- or desperately -- has to assume that he was only referring to Java in this statement.)

Nevertheless, Wednesday's appearance is not likely going to be the last we see of Page at this trial.

While Ellison 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 witness could correctly identify said document.


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