Larry Ellison Testifies in Oracle-Google Copyright Trial

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison told jurors in his federal copyright infringement case against Google that he can’t let companies make “cheap knockoffs” of Oracle products or “we wouldn’t get paid for our engineering.”

Ellison defended Oracle’s case against Google’s Android smart phone software in testimony that kicked off Tuesday in the case.

Oracle sued Google in 2010, accusing the search engine giant of failing to get a license for use of its Java programming in the Android smart phone.  Java was developed by Sun Microsystems in the 1990s.  Oracle bought Sun in 2010.  It is the Java programming language that allows software developers to write applications that can be translated to work on any computer, on smart phones and other devices.

The Java breakthrough was to end the practice of writing software code to run on a Microsoft machine and different code to run the same program on an Apple Mac.

Oracle attorney David Boies opened the company’s case with the deposition testimony of Google CEO Larry Page taken in August 2010. 

Ellison walked into court wearing a dark suit and red tie, with a packed court and rows of journalists writing and filing stories via laptop direct from the courtroom.

Ellison denied that the primary reason for buying Sun Microsystems was to get the expertise they needed to build the smart phone software.

The most widespread use of Java is for large server computing, according to Ellison.  “That’s why we bought Sun,” Ellison said.

As for smart phones, “It was an idea we wanted to explore.  We explored it and it turned out to be a bad idea,” he said. 

Google attorney Robert Van Nest asked if Ellison tried to get into a joint deal with Google to develop Java on the Android operating system for phones, which is made by Google.

Ellison said he did meet with Google executives Eric Schmidt and Larry Page but they never reached agreement on a joint project.

“And the next thing that happened was this lawsuit, right?” asked Van Nest.

“Yes,” Ellison replied.

As for the copyrights, Ellison said, “I am not a lawyer.  I don’t know if you can copyright a [software] language.

But I have said in the past, by far, of all our purchases, the most important thing we ever purchased at Oracle was Java,” he said.

The morning began with Google’s opening statement by Van Nest who pointed out that Ellison had previously praised Google’s use of Java in its Android phone operating system.  He played a clip from the Java One Developers’ conference shortly after Oracle’s purchase of Sun showing Ellison and Sun’s former CEO Scott McNealy with Ellison.

 Case:  Oracle America v. Google, C10-3561WHA

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