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Google: Sun offered to license Java for $100M

By James Niccolai
July 22, 2011 01:58 AM ET

IDG News Service - Sun Microsystems offered to license its Java technology to Google for $100 million, a Google attorney said Thursday, attempting to show that Oracle is out of touch as it seeks billions from Google for patent infringement.

Oracle and Google were in court Thursday for a hearing in Oracle's lawsuit accusing Google of patent infringement in its Android OS. Judge William Alsup was in a feisty mood, warning Oracle that "this court is not a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oracle Corporation" and telling Google that Andy Rubin, who runs its Android business, will be "on the hot-seat" at trial.

Alsup also made it clear that he thinks Google's ad revenues are linked to the value of Android - something Google contests -- and that it will have to pay damages "probably in the millions ... maybe the billions" if it's found guilty of infringement.

Oracle sued Google last August, saying its Android OS violates seven Java-related patents, as well as Java copyrights, that Oracle acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems.

The hearing at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco was to hear Google's motion to have Oracle's damages expert excluded from the case. Robert Van Nest, an attorney for Google, told Alsup the expert failed to link Oracle's patents directly to his damages estimate, which Google says is between $1.4 billion and $6.1 billion.

The expert ignored that Sun offered Google a three-year, "all-in" royalty license for Java for $100 million, which Google rejected, Van Nest said. The offer was made when Google was just starting Android's development.

But if Google tried to negotiate a license for Java, Alsup asked, doesn't that show Google knew it was going to infringe Sun's patents all along?

"Tell me why there's not wilful infringement here?" he asked.

"The negotiation that took place was not a pure licensing negotiation," Van Nest replied. Google was trying to partner with Sun to co-develop Android, he said. When the talks failed, Google developed a "clean room" version of Java using technology it developed in-house or licensed from the Apache Software Foundation.

So why did Google think it needed a license? Alsup wanted to know.

"They were negotiating an agreement," Van Nest said. "They weren't saying we need a license to your technology. They came to Sun saying we have a product we'd like to build together. You guys have technology that might be useful, we have technology that might be useful, let's partner and build it."

If Alsup was tough on Van Nest, he was tougher on Oracle. He didn't say Thursday if he'll exclude Oracle's damages expert, but he clearly thinks the upper end of his damages estimate is too high.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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