Schmidt and Rubin testify in Oracle trial
Google's executive chairman discusses Android's effect on search revenues, while Rubin is confronted with old emails on Java licensing
Published: 24 April, 2012
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has testified in the Oracle-Google trial in San Francisco, bringing the first phase of the proceedings - concerning API copyright - to a close. Schmidt insisted Google developed a "clean room implementation" of Java from 2005, but was questioned over why, in that case, Google was still discussing whether it needed a licence from Java owner Sun in 2010.
Oracle's lawyer David Boies concentrated in his questioning of Schmidt on emails discussing the licensing question, while his counterpart at Google, Robert Van Nest, focused on former Sun executive Schmidt's close ties to his former employer. Schmidt was director of software engineering and then CTO at Sun and was involved in the development of Java until he left the firm in 1997. He testified that he maintained friendships with key Sun executives and none of them objected to the use of Java in Android.
Boies also argued that Google benefited from its control of the Android user experience and built-in apps. "We make our advertising from search so it may or may not cause more advertising revenue," Schmidt responded. "In fact, I think you said the revenue you receive as result of additional search revenue paid for Android and a whole bunch more," Boies retorted, to which Schmidt agreed.
The attorney also referred in detail to an early internal presentation about Android strategy, which set out goals of disrupting the "closed and proprietary nature" of the two dominant industry players, Microsoft and Symbian; and then building "a community force around Google handset API and applications". Boies asked whether Google believed that people who use Android search more than people who use other operating systems. Schmidt replied: "The primary reason to have something like Android is that people we'll do more searches, and we'll get more money as a result."
Previously, Boies had carried out a detailed interrogation of Google's mobile chief, and Android's architect, Andy Rubin. The lawyer was seeking to show that Rubin and Google knew that the company needed to license Java IPR, and referred to various emails and other documents from 2005 and 2006, to infer that in the early stages, the search giant believed it would need to partner with Sun. In October 2005, Rubin wrote to Google co-founder Larry Page: "My proposal is that we take a licence that specifically grants the right for us to open source our product. We'll pay Sun for the licence and the TCK [technology compatibility kit]. Before we release our product to the open source community, we'll make sure our JVM passes all TCK certification tests so that we don't create fragmentation."
In 2006, Boies said, Rubin wrote that the java.lang APIs were subject to copyright, which is the opposite of what Google is now claiming in its defence against Oracle.
Also on the patents front, Motorola has scored the latest point in the Android/Apple wars, winning a preliminary decision against the iPhone maker at the US International Trade Commission. Apple was judged to have violated one of four Motorola patents. The initial ruling must be confirmed by the full six-judge ITC panel, which could impose an injunction against the iPhone, in theory at least. The preliminary ruling involves a Motorola patent on Wi-Fi.