Safra Catz frames Oracle v. Google fight in biblical terms

"Thou shall not steal," the Oracle CEO recalled telling Google's chief lawyer regarding the internet company's use of Java APIs.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Oracle's legal battle against Google comes down to technical issues like software development and copyright law, but Oracle CEO Safra Catz on Tuesday framed the years-long conflict in biblical terms.

Taking the stand in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, Catz recalled running into Google's chief lawyer, Kent Walker, at a Bat Mitzvah in 2012. That was two years into Oracle's copyright infringement suit against Google. The software giant claimed that Google's unlicensed use of Java APIs to develop the Android mobile platform violated their copyright protections. Walker, Catz testified, told her that day that "the old rules don't apply" to Google.

"I immediately said, 'Thou shalt not steal,'" Catz recalled. "An oldie but a goodie."

A federal appeals court agreed with Oracle that the APIs were, in fact, protected under copyright, but Google is now arguing that its use of the code amounted to "fair use." Oracle, of course, disagrees and is seeking $9.3 billion in damages from Google for its use of the 37 Java API packages.

Catz argued Tuesday that Google's free use of the Java APIs hurt Oracle's licensing agreements with other companies that were paying to use Java. For instance, Samsung had at one point licensed Java for $40 million, but that licensing agreement fell to $1 million. "Java business was being heavily and negatively impacted by Android," Catz testified.

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