Larry Page ‘can’t recall’ Java licensing talks

Google CEO Larry Page has told a jury his company ‘did nothing wrong’ by using Java software, acquired by Oracle when it took over Sun Microsystems, in its Android products.

“We really wanted to be able to use Sun’s technology,” he said, adding: “When we weren’t able to come to terms on a business partnership, we went down our own path.”

Oracle has accused Google of infringing several Java patents and copyrights with its Android technology, and is demanding royalties that could amount to $1 billion.

But Google says its use was fair and legal, and respected intellectual property. However, Page was vague about whether licensing Java had actually been discussed during the creation of Android.

“I’m not sure whether or not we got a license to anything,” he said.

Google points to two 2007 documents to claim that Sun was happy with its use of Java: a statement from then-Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz in which he said he would ‘publicly applaud’ Android, and an email  offering to ‘support’ the announcement of Android.

But, as patent expert Florian Mueller points out, this falls a long way short of formal permission to use Java.

“I believe the problem for Larry Page is that he was personally very much involved with the decision to use Java without a license,” he says.

“I don’t mean to say that his denial of recollection was dishonest (considering that he must have received huge numbers of emails over the years), but it certainly does contrast with some evidence of his personal involvement.”

Oracle plans to call Page back to testify again later in the trial.