‘Get a License’ Email First Jab in Java Trial Start

Oracle Corp. buildingThe Oracle v. Google mega-copyright/patent trial kicked off Monday with Oracle lawyer Michael Jacobs pointing to an incriminating 2010 email from Google engineer Tim Lindholm saying Google needed to get a license from Oracle to run Java in their Android operating system.

But they didn’t get that license, Jacobs told the 7-woman, 5-man jury.

“The decision to use Java in Android was taken at the very highest levels at Google with a conscious decision of what was going on,” he said.

The federal courtroom was packed with nearly 100 people as the trial got underway, with a line of people waiting to get in for the opening statements in the case.

Oracle has accused Google of violating its copyright and patents by failing to get licenses for use of the Java, which was developed by Sun Microsystems in the 1990s and acquired by Oracle when it bought Sun in 2010.  Java is a programming language that allows software developers to write applications that can be translated to work on any computer and on smart phones.

Google’s Android operating platform uses the Java programming language to make it simpler for software developers already familiar with the Java language.  But Android uses what is called Dalvik virtual machine instead of the Java virtual machine and provides non-Java components.

Oracle claims Google’s Dalvik elements infringe the Java copyright and patents.

It took less than four hours to select a jury and one hour for Jacobs to complete his opening statement before the first day of trial ended.

Expect to see Oracle CEO Larry Ellison on the witness stand tomorrow after Google’s opening and a videotape that Oracle will play at the outset of its case.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup has said he expects the trial to run eight weeks.

The case has been an epic pre-trial battle of motions flying back and forth for months leading up to the trial.

Google came out on the losing end back in February over jurors being allowed to see the Lindholm email.   In it he said Google needs “to negotiate a license for Java under the terms we need.”  They didn’t.  Lindholm wasn’t just any engineer.  He was a former Sun engineer who co-wrote a book about Java and was on the early Java development team.

Google argued it was protected by attorney-client privilege.  Alsup disagreed.

There are multiple patents and many claims at stake but Alsup has ordered the trial to be in three phases.  The first takes up the alleged copyright violation claims, followed by any liability for alleged patent infringement and finally jurors will decide damages and willfulness of the violations – IF there is any guilt found by jurors.

Case:  Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., 10-3561WHA  (N. Dist. of Calif.)



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