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Google Chairman Eric Schmidt testifies in Sun lawsuit over Java

April 24, 2012|Bloomberg News
  • Google Chairman Eric Schmidt testified that Jonathan Schwartz, who started as Sun Microsystems' chief executive in April 2006, never asked Google to take a license.
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt testified that Jonathan Schwartz, who started… (Scott Olson, Getty Images )

Google Inc. Chairman Eric Schmidt testified that his company developed the Android operating system using the Java programming language after partnership talks with Sun Microsystems Inc. fell through and Sun made no demand for a license to use Java.

Sun sought $30 million to $50 million and tight control over Java's use for Android, Schmidt told jurors Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco during Oracle Corp.'s trial against Google. When deal negotiations fell through in 2006, Google built the Android software for mobile devices using aspects of the Java platform without infringing on Sun's intellectual property, he said. Oracle now owns Java.

Schmidt said that based on his understanding of Sun's licensing requirements for Java, Google's use of the programming language's tools in Android without a license was "permissible" and "legally correct." He said Jonathan Schwartz, who started as Sun's chief executive in April 2006, never asked the search engine operator to take a license.

Oracle is seeking $1 billion in damages and a court order blocking sales of Android devices unless Mountain View, Calif.-based Google pays for a license. The operating system runs on more than 300 million smartphones.

"Schwartz didn't express any concerns about the use of Java?" Robert Van Nest, Google's lawyer, asked Schmidt today. "Did he complain?"

"He did not," said Schmidt, a former chief technical officer at Sun who was the primary executive in charge of Java.

"Did he tell you that you needed a license to use Java's APIs" or application programming interfaces? Van Nest asked.

"He did not," Schmidt said.

Google plans to call Schwartz as a witness, according to a court filing.

Schmidt said Sun co-founder Scott McNealy saw the Android partnership with Google as a way to boost revenue.

"He understood the benefit of having a billion users," Schmidt testified. "I took that to mean he wanted money."

McNealy said in an e-mail shown to the jury that he supported "taking a risk with Java" to develop open source smartphone software. "I just need to understand the economics," McNealy said.

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