Oracle CEO Safra Catz took the stand on Monday in Oracle’s ongoing trial in which it’s suing Google for billions of dollars.
And Catz dropped a few interesting tidbits while she was being questioned.
Among them: Oracle didn’t buy Sun just to sue Google.
It bought Sun because it was afraid IBM was going to grab it, she said, as reported by Sarah Jeong, a reporter from Motherboard who is in court live tweeting the trial.
Catz explained that Oracle bought Sun because so much of Oracle’s own product was based on Sun’s Java, and they were concerned about what would happen if someone else acquired Sun.
By someone else, she later clarified, she meant that Oracle “was afraid” IBM would buy Sun.
Oracle: Did you buy Sun because you wanted to file a copyright lawsuit against Google?
Catz: No, we did not.
— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) May 16, 2016
To recap: Oracle and Google have been locked in a legal battle since 2010.
Oracle claims that Google owes it billions of dollars because Google created its Andoird software using certain parts of the Java programming language without paying for it. The parts in question are called application programming interfaces and they are bits of code that allow two software programs to talk to each other and share information.
Google use 37 of Java’s APIs in Android helped Google jump-start Android by making it more appealing for Java developers to write apps for it.
In a previous trial about the issue, Google argued that APIs were not even subject to copyright but lost that case on appeal.
Now Oracle is trying to convince a jury to award it a lot of money in damages. Meanwhile, Google is arguing that APIs fall under “fair use” and if the jury agrees, Google won’t owe Oracle anything.
Java is an extremely popular programming language created by another company, Sun Microsoystems, that Oracle bought in for $7.4 billion in 2009. (Really more like $5.4 billion if you subtract Sun’s cash on hand.) Shortly after that, Oracle slammed Google with this lawsuit.
The case has riled up the computer industry, who argue that if everyone has to licence and pay royalties on APIs, and face copyright infringement lawsuits over them, it could damage the whole software industry. The software industry already spends a good deal of time suing each other and defending against software patents.
All of this means that people in the industry have long rumbled that grabbing Java was Oracle’s main reason to buy Sun. And Catz just admitted that this was true.
But Oracle also got Sun’s hardware business, most of which it flicked off. The part it kept is used to create its multi-billion “Exadata” business of specially hardware designed to run its software, particularly its database.
Oracle originally sued Google for $6 billion — an amount that would have pretty much paid for acquisition — but the judge at that time rejected the amount as being ridiculously too high. So if Oracle can convince a jury now that Google owes it billions, Sun could be one of the most profitable acquisitions that Oracle ever made.