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Larry Page plays defense in Oracle-Google trial

Google CEO Larry Page retakes the stand in the third day of the trial over the patent and copyright suit with Oracle.

Rachel King Staff Writer
Rachel King is a staff writer for ZDNet based in San Francisco.
Rachel King
5 min read
The two Larrys: Ellison and Page CNET

Last updated: 10 a.m. PT

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google CEO Larry Page returned to court on Wednesday morning to retake the stand as a witness in the legal battle between Google and Oracle over patents and copyrights related to Java.

Yet, as demonstrated during Page's initial testimony on the stand on Tuesday afternoon as well as during the video of his deposition from last August, Page continuously denied much -- if any -- knowledge regarding discussions regarding Java licenses and Google engineers copying Java API codes.

See also: Google's Page claims little knowledge about Android, Java license talks

Oracle attorney David Boies picked up right where he left off before Judge William Alsup decided to adjourn the trial at the U.S. District Court for the day on Tuesday.

Boies pointedly asked, "Would it have been a violation of Google policy for Google engineers to copy copyrighted materials of other companies?"

Page replied, "Again, as I said yesterday, I think we did nothing wrong," explaining that his company is "very careful" about what information that they did and did not use. He also said that he was unsure as to whether Android (which the company has been developing for seven years and is the foundation Google's mobile efforts) is a critical asset to Google Inc.

This kind of back-and-forth pattern between Boies and Page continued over the course of nearly an hour, with only a brief respite when Page was cross-examined by Google's lawyers.

Additionally, the tension between the two only seemed to escalate as Boies couldn't get a straight, yes-or-no answer from Page most of the time.

Take this interaction early in questioning as one example:

Boies: This is a yes or no question. Mr. Page, do you from your own personal knowledge and experience in the industry know that Sun wanted to avoid fragmentation of the java platform?

Page: I think they wanted to control the Java platform.

Judge Alsup: You can answer that question yes or no please. You can say yes or no, and give an explanation, or say I don't know.

Page: I'm sorry. Repeat the exact question.

Boies: I'll try, your honor. Do you know, sir, from your own personal knowledge and experience in the industry know that Sun wanted to avoid fragmentation of the Java platform?

Page: Now or previously?

Boies: Let me break it up. Did you know, in 2005, from your own personal knowledge and experience in the industry know that Sun wanted to avoid fragmentation of the Java platform?

Page: Um, yes, subject to control and other things I mentioned.

Larry Page appears at the San Francisco courthouse, April 18,2012 CNET

A further point of tension between Page and Oracle's legal team is whether or not Page is actually familiar with Tim Lindholm, whom Oracle has singled out as an important adviser at Google in regards to implementing Java on Android.

Both on Tuesday and Wednesday, Page maintained that he was not familiar with Lindholm, but simply knew of him. Oracle seems to think differently.

Boies pointed towards an email dated July 25, 2005 about negotiations with Sun related to Java. That email detailed different responsibilities and opinions that Google leaders had at the time in regards to those negotiations. Here are two lines of contention that Boies highlighted:

deep & rubin: action to follow up with sun negotiations regarding open sourcing java


tim: doesn't feel that sun is a problem regarding the shared issues

Boies asked Page if that "tim" referred to Tim Lindholm. Page replied simply, "I'm not sure which Tim it would be."

To further drum home his point that Page does actually know and have a working relationship with Lindholm, Boies offered another email from Lindholm to Andy Rubin, this one dated on August 6, 2010, as evidence. Here's the excerpt that Boies highlighted:

What we've been asked to do (by Larry and Sergei [sic]) is to investigate what technical alternatives exist to Java for Android and Chrome. We've been over a bunch of these, and think they all suck. We conclude that we need to negotiate a license for Java under the terms we need.

Noting that "Sergei" is spelled wrong to some quiet laughter from the court, Page evaded Boies's questioning again when asked about this and his awareness about Java licenses.

Boies asked Page if he was told that Google needed to negotiate licenses with Java. Page replied that he couldn't recall about that time expect that he knew "we worked hard to negotiate a partnership with Sun."

Again, Judge Alsup interceded by addressing Page, "Most of the questions are yes or no, and you should try to answer in that spirit. So let's do that. Is it true that you never got a license?"

Page replied, I'm not sure whether or not we got a license to anything."

Boies asked if Google ever obtained a license from Sun or Oracle for Java. Page said no.

Boies continued asking if Google uses certain Sun or Oracle APIs in Android, and if Page was aware that Sun includes those APIs in its copyrights. Page admitted that he is aware that Google uses Java APIs on Android, but that he has no idea what Sun copyrighted or not.

Finally, Boies asked if Page ever asked anyone, and Page said he couldn't remember.

On Tuesday, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison asserted while under oath that Google was the only company he knew of that was using Java APIs without licenses from either Sun or Oracle. Boies followed up on this and asked Page if he was aware of any other company besides Google that uses Java APIs without a licence.

Page responded that he's not "an expert" on the subject, but he singled out IBM as one example, saying that he knew "IBM has had a long and tortuous relationship with Sun over Java.

Boies was taken aback slightly here, asking Page if it was his testimony that IBM does not have a license from Sun or Oracle. Page admitted he didn't know exactly, pointing out that Apache Harmony has some relationship with IBM.

"I don't know what their license is, but it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't," Page added.

This might not be the last we see of Larry Page on the stand. Unlike Ellison, who was sent home after testifying on Tuesday morning and was said not to be required to return unless subpoenaed, Page might have to return yet again.

That's because Page was unable to identify a piece of evidence presented by Boies, which presented a debate between both legal teams. After a short but heated discussion, Judge Alsup declared that Oracle lawyers could not press Page any further on this until another witness could correctly identify said document. 

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Google's Page goes on defensive against Oracle lawyers at trial."