Oracle Corp. is trying to hitch a ride on the success of Google Inc.’s Android mobile software by asserting its intellectual property rights, Google lawyers said, after Oracle abandoned the idea of building a smartphone of its own.
Oracle, whose Java software is used in Android, had at one time considered the feasibility of buying Blackberry maker Research in Motion and Palm to make a foray into the mobile device market, according to testimony from Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison on Tuesday.
But Mr. Ellison said Oracle ultimately decided against pursuing that course after weeks of analysis.
Oracle and Google kept up their legal sparring in the second day of a high-stakes trial over patents involving Java – an “open-source” or publicly available software programming language.
Mr. Ellison told a packed federal courtroom in San Francisco that Google was the only corporation he knew of that had not taken one of three types of Java licenses, while others ranging from Samsung Electronics to Amazon.com Inc. had.
“Just because something is open-source doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want with it,” Mr. Ellison testified.
Oracle sued Google in August, 2010, over patent and copyright claims for the Java programming language. According to Oracle, Google’s Android operating system tramples its intellectual property rights to Java, which it acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems in 2010.
Google says it does not violate Oracle’s patents and that Oracle cannot copyright certain parts of Java. The trial before U.S. District Judge William Alsup is expected to last at least eight weeks.
Billionaire Mr. Ellison, clad in a conservative dark blue suit and red tie, at times appeared uncomfortable under cross-examination by Google’s lawyer, who zeroed in on his idea to build an Oracle smartphone and go toe-to-toe with Apple Inc. and Google.
Mr. Ellison denied ever having approached Google about building smartphone software together, and said smartphones turned out to be “a bad idea” of his.
“The idea was building the smartphone using Java FX and then charge carriers like Verizon for it,” he said. Mr. Ellison said that they had debated the merits of every option to crack the smartphone arena, including buying RIM, which he said was too expensive at the time, and Palm, which Hewlett-Packard ended up acquiring.
But Mr. Ellison contends that in 2010, he tried to persuade then-Google CEO Eric Schmidt and current CEO Larry Page to take on a newer version of Java in Android, and make Android more compatible with industry standards. Those talks proved fruitless.
Google attorney Robert Van Nest acknowledged on Tuesday that Google executives had once negotiated for a potential partnership with Sun, before Oracle acquired it, to develop Android.
“When those negotiations failed, Google engineers built Android on their own without any Sun technology whatsoever,” Van Nest said in his opening argument.
The lawyer said Oracle tried but failed to make inroads into the smartphone market around 2009 or 2010 and is now trying to grab a slice of Android, which is built partly with the open Java software language pioneered by Sun.
Mr. Van Nest played a video of Mr. Ellison telling former Sun Microsystems Chairman Scott McNealy onstage at a public event that he welcomed Google’s “Java devices” and saw no reason Oracle-Sun should not have several of its own.
On Monday, Oracle attorney Michael Jacobs said Google took copyrighted Java “blueprints” to harness the creative power of millions of Java software developers, so they then could write applications for Android. However, Google never obtained the proper license, he said.
“You can’t just step on someone’s IP because you have a good business reason for it,” Jacobs said.
The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is Oracle America, Inc v. Google Inc, 10-3561.
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