Former Sun CEO defends Google in court
Would even have paid Google to create a Java-branded handset, but says the search giant did nothing wrong in going its own way
Published: 27 April, 2012
Former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz offered what could be the most decisive testimony yet in the Oracle case against Google, defending Java's openness and saying Sun "would have paid" Google for a Java phone.
Schwartz welcomed Android's launch warmly in 2007 even though Google had adopted its own Java virtual machine, Dalvik. Giving evidence for the search giant, during the trial of Oracle's patents and copyright case against Android, he said the development of Java in the mid-1990s was designed to open up a Microsoft dominated computing world. He said "what was important for Sun at the time" was to "get away from Microsoft", and to do that, it was "critically important that we not simply market to businesses, but also the seeds of all future businesses", notably schools and universities. As part of that process, he confirmed that Sun promoted the open use of Java APIs, in order to get the platform broadly accepted round the world.
Open APIs gave Sun the opportunity to be "bigger than the monopoly itself," he added, on the basis that partners would all get the same set of APIs, but would then create their own virtual machines and products. Asked by Google's lawyer whether the Java APIs were ever designed to be sold or licensed separately from the language - the heart of the dispute - Schwartz replied: "No, of course not." He added that Sun "would have worked very hard to say it wasn't true" that the APIs were proprietary to the firm. Oracle claims that Google should have licensed 37 Java APIs, used in Android, and by failing to do so, is violating copyright. Google has various argued that the elements are not subject to copyright, and that it developed a 'clean room' implementation of Java containing none of Sun's own technology.
Schwartz recalled partnership negotiations with Google going back to 2005, and said Sun would have liked a big licence fee in return for Google calling its product a 'Java phone'. That would also have brought compatibility benefits since the resulting handsets would have run the same code as other Java products. But he conceded that, "like almost all companies, Google wants to control their destiny", which is harder when licensing third party technology, and in the end the search firm "felt they could better execute on their own and didn't need what we had to offer." He added: "We probably would have paid them to work with us on a Java phone."
He said Google had never disguised that it was using Java language and APIs in Android, and told the court that the situation could have gone one of two ways when the OS made its debut - Sun could have sued Google, but instead decided to embrace Android because at least it brought the software player into the Java fold, and away from Microsoft. "We didn't like it, but we weren't going to stop it by complaining about it," he commented. "Imagine for a moment if Google selected Microsoft Windows."