Oracle Opens Trial Against Google

Oracle alleges Google took liberty with property that wasn't theirs.

Tuesday, Apr 17, 2012  |  Updated 6:10 AM PDT
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Oracle Opens Trial Against Google

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Oracle CEO Larry Ellison will most likely be one of the first witnesses to testify in the trial.

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A lawyer for Oracle Corp. charged at a federal trial in San Francisco Monday that Google Inc. executives at the "highest level" deliberately violated Oracle copyrights and patents in software for Android mobile phones.

Oracle attorney Michael Jacobs made the allegation in his opening statement on the first day of a two-month jury trial on Redwood Shores-based Oracle's civil lawsuit against Mountain View-based Google.

The business software company claims that Google violated patents and copyrights associated with Java computer programming language in software Google developed for its Android smartphones and tablets.

"This case is about Google's use in Google's business of somebody else's property without permission," Jacobs told the 12-member jury in the court of U.S. District Judge William Alsup at the Federal Building.

Jacobs went on to contend that the alleged infringement was not inadvertent and was not a mistake.

"The decision was taken at the very highest level with a lot of consciousness and awareness when it was made," Jacobs said. Google attorneys will give their opening statement when the trial resumes Tuesday.

They have argued in court filings that the Java computer applications are not subject to copyright because they are means of expression but not expression itself. Under U.S. copyright law, expressions of an idea can be copyrighted, but an idea, procedure or method of operation is not copyrightable.

Java is a programming language developed by Sun Microsystems in the mid-1990s to enable software programs to run on different kinds of computers. Jacobs told the jury that Java is like "a translation layer" that enables developers to avoid having to create a separate application for each type of computer.

Oracle took over Sun's Java-related copyrights and patents when it acquired Sun for $7.4 billion in 2010.

While the basic Java language is a so-called open source product available for free, Oracle maintains that its programs or blueprints for building application software are protected by copyright.

The blueprints are known as application programming interfaces, or APIs.

Oracle Chief Executive Officer Larry Ellison is expected to be among the first witnesses called to the stand by Oracle after the completion of Google's opening statement Tuesday morning, according to Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger.

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