As another week goes by, the Oracle v. Google trail trudges toward the end of the first phase. On Friday Oracle rested its rebuttal case after Google had a chance to call witnesses and show testimony defending against copyright infringement complaints. Closing arguments are set for tomorrow, so I would like to recap the important events I saw while at the San Francisco federal courthouse the past few days.
On Monday, Judge Alsup mentioned that he was planning to instruct the jury that the sequence, structure, and organization (SSO) of the Java Application Programming Interface (API) was covered under Oracle’s copyright of the Java platform. Bob Lee, former Core Library Lead of Android, was called back to the stand after Google had a chance to review the content of his testimony Oracle proposed the last time court was in session. Lee talked about the dispute over Apache Harmony. He felt strongly that Sun overstepped its bounds when Sun did not grant a license for Apache to say that its Apache Harmony platform was Java compatible even though Apache was based off Java. Oracle then called an expert witness, Professor John Mitchell, to point out that the SSO for 37 packages in the Android API matched the ones in the Java API. Google in cross-examination tried to demonstrate the differences between the Java and Android languages while arguing with the expert. Andy Rubin, the head of the Android project, was also called as a witness to talk about communications Rubin had at Google with regards to licensing Java for Android and developing Android without Sun’s permission.
The next day more people showed up to watch the trial. Oracle finished questioning Rubin by pointing out that Rubin at least understood that fragmentation of the Java platform was not a good thing. Oracle then called former Google CEO Eric Schmidt to the stand to talk about Google’s development on a mobile platform. Thus Oracle rested its case, and Google started its defense by calling back Schmidt. As Chief Technical Officer (CTO) at Sun, Schmidt wanted developers to use the Java API packages Sun created and develop their own. When Google bought Android, the company tried to build a platform free of the licensing restrictions for the available systems of the time. Schmidt also said that Google would have paid Sun for a license to use Java with Android, but Sun wanted more control of the project than Google was comfortable ceding. As far as Schmidt was concerned, Google was doing everything legally, and he had approval from Sun. Oracle brought Schmidt’s credibility in question by pointing out that Schmidt had no clear recollection of the conversations he had with Sun’s CEO about the legality of operating without a license. Furthermore, Schmidt knew no other company was using Java to do useful things without relying on Sun API packages and having a license from Sun to do them. Before the day was over, Google called Rubin back to the stand so that Rubin could talk about how he took the Android team in a new direction after Google failed to reach an agreement with Sun.
On Thursday Google tried to define the trial based on the business decisions Oracle, Sun, and Google were making during Android’s development and release. Google called some witnesses to point out that Oracle was trying to work on a Java platform for mobile devices but decided not to bring it to market. Google then called former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz to the stand to talk about Sun support for the Android operating system. According to Schwartz, Google bypassed Sun, but Schwartz had no reason to litigate to stop Android. In cross-examination, Oracle drew attention to Schwartz’s management of Sun before Oracle bought out the company. Oracle also pointed out an e-mail exchange Schwarz had with a New York Times reporter about how Schwarz did not actually know the legality of Google basing Android off Java without Sun’s permission.
Oracle reinforced Sun’s intellectual property views by calling Scott McNealy, the CEO of Sun before Schwartz, to the stand. McNealy reiterated that Sun’s intellectual property value was its brand, so companies would license Sun tech such as Java. Google responded by questioning McNealy about his relationship with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and revealing how McNealy earned millions of dollars after Oracle bought Sun. Google then played a video of McNealy speaking about how languages should not be copyrightable and offered it as evidence to impeach McNealy’s testimony.
Google called its own expert witness, Professor Owen Astrachan, to talk about the development of the Java and Android platforms. Astrachan’s point was that programmers would just memorize API functions, and any copying is the result of implementing the same function and describing it. On Friday, Astrachan demonstrated by writing a program that would go over the internet, grab a web page, and then print it on the screen that would work in both Android and Java. As part of its rebuttal Oracle called back Professor Mitchell, who testified that Android and Java libraries overlap in concept, but Google still could have built their own API packages. Mitchell concluded by stating that the Android packages still represented the same structure, sequence, and organization that the Java packages had. Oracle’s last witness, Safra Katz, was called to rebut Google’s suggestion that Oracle was suing for monetary gain after its failure to compete with Android in the mobile market.
The Oracle v. Google trial is ending its first phase on copyrights. Tomorrow morning, closing arguments are scheduled before the jury determines the copyright infringement claims Oracle alleges concerning Android’s copying of Java. I plan to be at the courtroom bright and early to find out how the two parties are framing their copyright arguments to the jury as well as how Judge Alsup wants to frame the jury’s decision. From tomorrow’s events I hope to analyze the issues presented and disclose what I would decide in this case based on understanding of the case and my knowledge of copyright law.