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Oracle asks to depose Larry Page over Android suit

The company says the Google CEO has unique knowledge that could help its case. Google says the deposition would prove to be "superfluous."

Google CEO Larry Page might soon face questioning related to his company's legal battle over Android and Java.

Oracle yesterday submitted a request to Judge Donna Ryu of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to depose the Google co-founder and CEO regarding his involvement in his company's acquisition of Android Inc. in 2005. Foss Patents, a blog focused on software patents, was first to report on the newly filed request.

"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 (whose deposition Google has requested). 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's Larry Page
Larry Page in 2008 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Oracle sued Google in August, alleging that the search giant violates a host of patents and copyrights related to Java, which Oracle acquired early last year from Sun Microsystems. In the lawsuit filed in District Court, Oracle argues that Java is a mobile operating system competitor to Android, and by allegedly using Java-derived technologies, Google's platform, including its Dalvik virtual machine, is violating Oracle's intellectual property.

In October, Google responded, asserting that Dalvik does not, in fact, violate Java patents and copyrights.

"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," Google wrote in its answer to Oracle's suit. "The Dalvik VM is not a Java VM."

But that didn't stop Oracle. Last month, the company filed another document with the District Court, saying that it's seeking $2.6 billion in damages from Google. A couple weeks earlier, Google filed a document that estimated the company would owe Oracle between $1.4 billion and $6.1 billion if it loses the case.

Oracle's filing yesterday, requesting to question Page, wasn't taken lightly by Google. In the same document, Google issued a response to Oracle's request, saying that Oracle is simply coming "to this court gnashing [its] teeth with an eleventh-hour attempt to cram extra depositions into the last couple weeks of the discovery period." The search giant said that Oracle's request to question Page is a "harassing demand" and "superfluous given the testimony already made available."

Central to Google's argument is Andy Rubin, Android Inc. co-founder and the current vice president for Android at Google. Google said that Rubin, who was already deposed by Oracle's attorneys, "is far more knowledgeable regarding the facts surrounding Google's acquisition of Android" than Page.

"Accordingly, the deposition of Mr. Page would be unnecessarily duplicative of testimony already available through other witnesses, and would only serve Oracle's goal of harassing Google's most senior executive," Google wrote in its response.

If Oracle is allowed to question Page, the company will need to hurry. According to the documents, depositions must be completed by July 29.

In addition to Page, Oracle has asked to question former Google employees Dipchand Nishar, who worked on the company's mobile efforts, and Bob Lee, who "led the core library development for Android." Tim Lindholm, a current Android engineer and former employee of Sun, has also been cited in Oracle's requests for deposition.

Related stories:
• Oracle demands $2.6 billion from Google
• Oracle and Microsoft could cash in big on Android
• Android users: Don't fret over Google's fee battles
• Google beats analyst sales and earnings estimates