Both Sides Are Already Sparring Over the Next Phase
On May 4, Oracle asked a judge to bar Google from presenting more testimony from its star witness, former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz, in the forthcoming patent phase. Schwartz provided some of the most convincing testimony for Google in the case. Schwartz served as either Sun President or CEO during the original Google-Sun negotiations in 2005, 2006 and 2007 about using Java--or forks of Java--in Android. He testified on April 27 that companies could use Java without buying a license so long as they didn't claim to be Java-compatible and use the Java logo.The motion said that "Google's question called for a yes or no answer, but Mr. Schwartz in response volunteered an opinion as to what 'we' 'felt' about the grounds for pursuing litigation against Google over Android." The judge said he would take the motion under advisement. Confusion Widespread Obviously, there has been confusion about what parts of the open-source Java code are free and downloadable and which are licensible. While the Java language itself has belonged to the open-source community since 2006 and is free of charge to use, the community is maintained by Oracle and the software still must be licensed for commercial deployments under the GNU Public License. The application programming interfaces of Java have always been another matter, since APIs are made up of multiple components. Oracle claims in the lawsuit that the "specifications and implementations of the APIs are not a method of operation or system." Oracle CEO and co-founder Larry Ellison testified April 17 that "Google is the only company I know that hasn't taken a license for Java ... I met with [former Google CEO, now Executive Chairman] Eric Schmidt in 2010 to discuss a joint project in which Google would use Oracle's version of Java in its Android software for smartphones rather than their own version of Java." But the companies never set down an agreement, Ellison said. Background on the Case Oracle lead attorney Michael Jacobs had asserted on April 16 that Oracle "will prove to you from beginning to end ... that Google knew it was doing the wrong thing. This case is about Google's use, in Google's business, of somebody else's property without permission," Jacobs said. "You can't just step on someone's IP because you think you have a good business reason for it." Google contends that Oracle was planning on getting into the smartphone business itself, would have been a competitor to Android and simply wants to horn in on the profits of the popular open-source mobile device system. Ellison testified April 17 that Oracle did at one time consider acquiring Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, and Palm Computing. Android, released in 2008 by Google to partners such as Samsung, HTC and other manufacturers for smartphones and tablet PCs, now runs more than 300 million mobile devices. Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features and Analysis for eWEEK. Twitter: @editingwhiz
Google had asked the judge if it could reseat Schwartz for another go-round on the witness stand during the patent phase. Oracle responded by asking the court to bar Schwartz's testimony during the trial's two upcoming phases-- patent claims and damages--because he didn't answer previous questions in direct enough fashion.