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Oracle Asks Judge for Google CEO Deposition

Oracle Asks Judge for Google CEO Deposition
By Jennifer LeClaire

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Oracle wants a shot at questioning Google's CEO Larry Page in the high-stakes patent litigation that has pitted the two tech giants against each other. Oracle filed a complaint against Google for patent and copyright infringement in August, saying that in developing Android, Google infringed Oracle's Java-related intellectual property.
 


Oracle on Thursday asked a judge to let its attorneys grill Google's CEO Larry Page in the Android vs. Java battle. Judge Donna Ryu of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California will consider the request to allow a deposition of Google's co-founder about the role he played in the company's 2005 Android acquisition.

"Mr. Page is Google's CEO, and he reportedly made the decision to acquire Android, Inc., and thereby develop and launch the platform that Oracle now contends infringes its patents and copyrights," Oracle wrote in its letter to the judge.

"Mr. Page also participated in negotiations that took place between Sun and Google regarding a Java license for Android and in subsequent communications with Oracle's CEO, Larry Ellison. Oracle believes that Mr. Page's testimony will likely be relevant with respect to a number of other key issues in this case, as well, including the value of the infringement to Google."

Google Denies Wrongdoing

Oracle filed a complaint against Google for patent and copyright infringement in August. At that time, Oracle spokesperson Karen Tillman said, "In developing Android, Google knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle's Java-related intellectual property. This lawsuit seeks appropriate remedies for their infringement."

Oracle argued that Android uses Java technologies to compete with Java, which is itself a competitive mobile operating system. Google did not immediately respond to Oracle's allegations. But in October, Google emerged with a response that Google's platform, including its Dalvik virtual machine, does not violate Oracle's intellectual property.

"Although software applications for the Android platform may be written in the Java programming language, the Dalvik bytecode is distinct and different from Java bytecode. The Dalvik VM is not a Java VM," Google wrote.

"The core class libraries of the Dalvik VM incorporate a subset of Apache Harmony, a clean room, open source implementation of Java from the Apache Software Foundation. Other than the Harmony libraries, the Android platform, including, without limitation, the Dalvik VM, was independently developed." Google then asked the court to dismiss the suit and that the judge award it legal fees for Oracle filing what it knew was a groundless suit.

The Apotheker Strategy

Charles King, principal analyst at Pund IT, said the News Corp. phone hacking accusations show that at some point, the buck stops with the CEO. As he sees it, simple logic dictates that the highest-level executives in the company should know about critical licensing issues.

"Calling in the CEO is a strategy that Oracle has used before, probably most memorably when it tried to get HP's Leo Apotheker to testify in the damages case against SAP," King said. "Purely from a practical standpoint, Oracle will probably have a hard time explaining or justifying why speaking with Google's CEO is necessary. In the case of a licensing scheme, lower-level executives probably had more oversight and more insight into this. But it drives headlines and presumably will give the folks at Google something to think about beyond how much money they counted last quarter."
 

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