Oracle will be allowed to depose Google's Larry Page

Oracle may depose Google CEO Larry Page and two others in connection with its lawsuit accusing Google of patent infringement in its Android operating system, a magistrate in California ordered on Thursday.

Oracle may depose Page for a maximum of two hours, excluding breaks, solely on topics relevant to the willfulness of the defendant's alleged patent infringement, and the value of Android to the defendant, Judge Donna M. Ryu of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California said in her order.

Oracle seeks to depose Page regarding his knowledge of the negotiations between Sun Microsystems and Google between 2005 and 2010 to obtain a Java license for Android, as well as his decision to purchase the start-up Android, she added.

In a letter of July 14, Oracle said it was seeking to depose Page, former Google employees Dipchand Nishar and Bob Lee, and Tim Lindholm, a former Sun employee who has worked for Google since around 2004. The court conducted a telephonic hearing on July 21.

The court denied Oracle's request to depose Nishar. Google had countered that while Nishar was a senior director for products in the Asia Pacific region, he was "not a major player" with regard to Android or Google's mobile business.

Oracle sued Google last August, saying its Android OS violates Java copyrights and seven Java-related patents that Oracle acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems. The extent to which Android is important to Google, and its advertising revenue from the operating system, are likely to be key to determining the large damages that Oracle is expecting from the suit.

These depositions supplement the ten that Oracle has already taken.

Oracle asserted that Lindholm was involved in negotiations between Sun and Google for a Java license in the 2005 to 2006 time period as a technical advisor in a position to evaluate the necessity of licensing. Lee's name is tied to a significant number of documents, including some that indicate awareness of the need for licenses, which may be relevant to Oracle's claims for willful infringement, the judge noted.

In a separate hearing before Judge William Alsup , in a bid to poke holes in Oracle's claim for billions in damages a Google attorney said Sun Microsystems offered to license its Java technology to Google for $100 million.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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