Oracle and Google are back in court this week to determine if Google owes Oracle billions of dollars (or any dollars) over how it built Android.
And the first star witness was Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s Alphabet parent company.
He’s a good one to start with. He was an exec at Sun Microsystems, the company that Oracle bought in 2010 that led to this trial.
Schmidt was at Sun when Sun developed the Java operating system and all the assorted programming paraphernalia that Oracle and Google are currently arguing over. So he’s familiar with that part of things.
And, of course, he was famously CEO of Google when Google created Android. Schmidt had to give up his seat on Apple’s board of directors because Android competed with the iPhone, and Steve Jobs was so angry about what he saw as Schmidt’s betrayal that he threatened to go “thermonuclear” over Android, so the story goes.
In court on Tuesday, Oracle’s attorney, Peter Bicks, was trying to get Schmidt to acknowledge that using a part of the Java programming language in Android without paying for it was wrong. The dispute centres around Java’s application programming interfaces, or APIs, which allow two apps to talk to each other and share data.
Do you know Henrique?
The two companies have been embroiled in a legal battle over the issue for six years, with a previous trial in 2012 that led to a judge’s ruling that Google did not infringe on Oracle’s APIs. Oracle won an appeal, and the two sides are now back in court again. Google argues that its use of Java APIs should be free, covered under the “fair use” provision.
For instance, there was a bit where Bicks asked Schmidt if he recognised the name Henrique de Castro, the well-known executive who ran Google’s mobile business while Schmidt was CEO.
Schmidt kept telling the lawyer that he did not recognise the name. And when Schmidt finally did say he recognised it, he told the lawyer that he had been pronouncing the it wrong. Touché.
The lawyer also asked questions to get Schmidt to admit that Google makes a lot of money on Android, which seemed to work. This will later serve to bolster Oracle’s claim that Google owes Oracle billions of dollars.
And finally, Bicks asked Schmidt to talk about one more controversial public statements. “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line but not cross it.”
But that line of questioning was cut off by US District Judge William Alsup, who would not let the testimony continue past the 1 p.m. cutoff.
Alsup promised the jury that the day would end at 1 p.m. and that means, Schmidt is expected to be back in court tomorrow to finish answering Bick’s questions.