Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt took the stand at 9 a.m. PST this morning to give his direct testimony during the Oracle v. Google trial, and while the questioning hulked along, the executive’s answers glimmered with cynicism.
Oracle’s counsel immediately showcased a plethora of documents from 2005 and 2006 that seemingly depicted the Internet giant as having prior knowledge about needing Sun software licensing agreements to apply Java in the Android mobile operating system, but the Executive Chairman denied the exhibited emails and presentations and remained steadfast to his defense that he was unaware Google even needed permission to employ the open-source software.
Oracle, a database software giant based in Redwood City, Calif., sued Google in August 2010, and alleged the Android operating system violated a number of patents and copyrights within Java, which Oracle acquired through Sun Microsystems. Android currently runs on more than 150 million mobile devices. Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., denies the contention.
In today’s court appearance, Oracle is essentially alleging that Schmidt and Google had clear knowledge that they did not have explicit rights to use Java in Android. Meanwhile, many Google officials, including Schmidt, profess otherwise.
[Schmidt’s testimony lasted until 12 p.m. PST—see below for details.]
During Schmidt’s testimony, the chairman described his new role at Google as an executive that travels around the world giving speeches and dealing with governments. He also described Google as having acquired Android, while he was CEO, with an unclear idea of how it would use the asset, but that such obscure moves were customary for Google in past times. Schmidt further elaborated and said the early objective of Android was to build an alternative platform free from licensing restrictions. More importantly, however, Google wanted to combat key competitor Microsoft at every corner, but he said that concern is no longer relevant.
Meanwhile, Oracle sporadically whipped out exhibits throughout the attestation, such as a presentation about a viable deal between Google and Sun to collaborate on Android, and an email where Google engineer Tim Lindholm admitted the search engine needed to license Java while developing Android. That same, infamous email is where Lindholm also claimed Google founders Sergei Brin and Larry Page thought the existing alternatives to Java for Chrome and Android “suck[ed].”
Schmidt acknowledged during his testimony that he knew Google’s executives were thinking about working with Java. However, when asked whether he thought Google needed a license from Sun, he vaguely said no due to the mechanics of Sun’s licensing model.
The remaining 90 minutes of this morning’s trial brimmed with technical jargon related to whether Google copied 37 Sun Java API specifications. Schmidt acceded to Google having used the API names, but would not go into detail and even suggested skipping to the next question when the inquiries seemed repetitive and pointless.
Thus, the conversation moved to the required Java licenses. Schmidt said he did not know what a TCK license is, which prompted doubt from the prosecuting councel. Schmidt dismissed the dubiousness with an excuse about things tending to change over the course of two decades. Earlier, however, Schmidt informed the court that he is a 40-year veteran in computer science.
From this point, Oracle’s attorneys fumbled the use of “interface,” to which Schmidt reaffirmed his knowledge and punctually corrected the inaccuracies of the interrogation. Oracle’s problem propagated as it hurried between exhibits and failed to make a point. Eventually, the judge reminded the court that this ongoing discourse is using Google’s time, and this realization drew a humorous comment from Google’s attorneys about wanting to object if it had known how much of the company’s time would be squandered.
Oracle then announced it had no more questions for Schmidt, and the court quickly prepped for Andy Rubin, the co-founder and former CEO of Android Inc., to give his testimony.