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Oracle v Google Trial Day 2: Ellison Testifies

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Oracle v Google Trial Day 2: Ellison Testifies

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The Oracle vs Google case has finally hit the courtroom, and on the second day, Larry Ellison is Oracle's first witness. Ellison's main argument - APIs are difficult to make, and as such, they should be intellectual property.

The Opening Statement

Google's opening statement puts forward some powerful arguments right from the start: 

Google didn't need a license to use Java in Android. The source for Android was written by Google engineers or it came from other Open Source projects. Yes, it is true that Google negotiated with Sun to build Android together. Google put 3 years, 100K hours and millions of dollars into it. Android source was publicly posted (the source code for Android). Sun could see it. They could download the source code for it. Sun didn't complain. Jonathan Schwartz the CEO of Sun, posted on his blog on Sun's web site, congratulated Google for Android in 2007, saying "We support Android's use of Java".

The statement concludes with what Google expect from the trial: 

1) there was no copyright infringement; the language is free and the APIs are necessary to use it.
2) Sun approved its use.
3) Android is a fair use of the Java APIs.


Oracle Wanted To Go Into Competition With Google

Another interesting piece of information from yesterdays trial is Ellison's admission that Oracle were considering competing in the smartphone business, and considered buying a company already in the business, such as Palm or RIM.

"I had an idea that we could compete with everyone in the smartphone business," Ellison testified under questioning from a Google lawyer. "It was an idea I wanted to explore. We explored it and decided it was a bad idea."

Van Nest's opening statement puts this fact across in a more blunt manner:

The problem came in 2009 when Oracle came onto the scene. Oracle wanted to go into the mobile market. They tried to build their own mobile phone and failed. They tried a second approach and that failed. Lastly, they tried to partner with Google on Android, and that failed.

Can You Copyright an API? 

James Niccolai tweets that Ellison is building up the case that APIs could be patented, saying that writing APIs is 'arguably one of the most difficult things we do at Oracle' along with other statements like 'Just because something is open-source doesn't mean you can do whatever you want with it'.

Prompted by all the trouble that surrounds software patents, Twitter have published a draft of the Innovators Patent Agreement. According to their blog post:

 It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees’ inventions in offensive litigation without their permission. What’s more, this control flows with the patents, so if we sold them to others, they could only use them as the inventor intended. 

It feels right that patents should be used as a defense, rather than a mechanism to bring a company to court.

Java Matters to Oracle

Of course, in a case like this, it's unlikely Ellison would say otherwise. But maybe he really does understand the value of being the company behind Java

 "Of all the things we have ever purchased, by far the most important we ever purchased was Java,"

Google Are Up Next

The last 20 minutes of the day concluded with Larry Page testifying for Google, saying that 'I think we did nothing wrong'. Page will continue as we enter day three of the trial.



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