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Oracle vs Google trial starts today, both CEOs to testify as witnesses

April 16, 2012
Oracle vs Google

As Google and Oracle have failed to reach a settlement in their ongoing patent infringement dispute before the judge-imposed April 13 deadline, the trial will start today, set to begin with jury selection. According to Oracle’s potential witness list, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Google CEO Larry Page will both called to the stand in the following days.

In 2010, when Oracle filed their initial complaints, Google’s Android OS was believed to break seven patents and copyright claims related to the Java programming language, intellectual property owned by Oracle since their acquisition of Sun Microsystems – the creators of Java – back in 2009. Since then, Google was able to narrow down the list to just a couple of patents, thus bringing down Oracle’s damage estimates from north of $6 billion to “just” $1 billion, although it is believed that Oracle won’t actually receive more than $100 million.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Oracle’s claims, you should read this article here, but to sum it up, the creators of Android are accused of illicitly using 37 Java API packages. As APIs are not subject to copyright, Google does seem to be in a slight advantage as far as the current law goes. According to a Google filing on the matter: “Computer programming languages are not copyrightable, and neither are Oracle’s APIs. Oracle accuses Google of infringement for doing what the Oracle API specifications describe. That is a classic attempt to improperly assert copyright over an idea rather than expression. The Court should hold that the structure, selection and organization of the APIs are uncopyrightable.”

According to the aforementioned Oracle witness list, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison will try to point out that Oracle has acquired Sun Microsystems exclusively for the Java programming language and that Android caused a lot of harm to Oracle’s business. The same list mentions that Google CEO Larry Page will be required to explain the business plan and marketing strategy behind Android, as well Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

The trial takes place in San Francisco, is presided by U.S. Judge William Alsup, and will be divided into main chapters: copyright liability, patent claims, and damages. The Oracle vs Google court dispute is expected to last a couple of months (8 weeks).