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Google CEO evasive, but admits never obtaining Java license

By Brandon Bailey, San Jose Mercury News –

SAN FRANCISCO — Google Inc. CEO Larry Page completed his testimony in federal court Wednesday morning after an hour of laborious grilling by an attorney for tech rival Oracle Corp., in the high-stakes lawsuit claiming that Google misused Oracle’s Java technology to build the popular Android mobile software.

Under repeated questioning, Page eventually acknowledged that Google never obtained a license for using Java. But he added that Google ultimately felt it didn’t need one because, he said, Google only used elements of the Java programming language that are freely available in the public domain.

“When we weren’t able to reach terms on a partnership, we went down our own path,” he testified.

That is a key theme of Google’s defense in the case, while Oracle is seeking nearly $1 billion in damages for what it says are violations of Java copyrights and patents that Oracle acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems, which created Java.

Throughout his testimony, however, Page repeatedly balked at giving direct answers to a number of questions posed by Oracle attorney David Boies. US District Judge William Alsup interrupted several times to order Page to answer simply “yes or no.”

“You must do that,” Alsup ordered the 39-year-old Google co-founder, who frequently responded that he didn’t remember or wasn’t familiar with the details of documents or negotiations that Boies was asking about. That included emails in which Google staffers seemed to be advising that they would need a license for Java.

Under friendlier questioning by Google attorney Robert Van Nest, Page said those discussions referred to a broader partnership with Sun involving its proprietary technology, which he said “would have been helpful” but turned out to be unnecessary.

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