updated 04:15 pm EDT, Tue April 24, 2012
Eric Schmidt talks Java licensing demands at trial
Google during its own turn at Oracle's lawsuit over Java patents saw its executive chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt explain why the company hadn't paid for a Java license for Android. During the platform's development, a pre-Oracle Sun had asked for $30 million to $50 million, which Google would have been willing to pay, Schmidt said in testimony. The issue was instead one of control, as Google wanted to determine what Sun techniques were contributed to its source.
The company eventually decided on a "clean room" approach to using Java technology, or one that didn't reuse any original code, after negotiations with Sun didn't get the terms Google wanted. Sun still wanted a unified approach to Java where apps ran anywhere, while Google wanted to fork Java for its own ends.
Testimony later in the day from Google mobile VP Andy Rubin insisted that Sun wasn't honoring the concept of open-source. Giving it away for free meant "you have to let it go," he insisted. His pre-Android company, Danger, had allegedly licensed Java for the Sidekick out of app compatibility and marketing, not necessity.
Schmidt, who at one point ran Sun, admitted that Google didn't have a tangible agreement with Sun that its spin on Android was acceptable, instead relying on occasional conversations with then-CEO Jonathan Schwartz and the lack of legal action. No one, including Sun, had accused Google of copying code since Android's launch until Oracle bought Sun. Although not mentioned at trial, Oracle is known to be aggressive with lawsuits and is unofficially thought to have bought Sun partly to wield its copyrights and patents in lawsuits.
Oracle didn't get any clear legal win during its turn to examine Schmidt or Rubin, although it may not necessarily have needed any implied or explicit guilt. The database company's view has been that certain implementations of Java need a paid license, purportedly including Google's, and that simply disagreeing with the terms doesn't exempt a company from having to pay. [via The Verge]