Google CEO To Undergo Grilling In Oracle Java Patent Case

Thursday U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu granted Oracle's request to question Page in a deposition about what he knew about Google's use of Java in the Android mobile operating system, according to a published report by Bloomberg.

Oracle lawyers can question Page about his knowledge of negotiations between Google and Sun between 2005 and 2010 for Google to obtain a Java license, according to the ruling. The questioning also will cover the decision to acquire Android, at the time an independent startup, in 2005.

Oracle sued Google last August claiming that Google's use of Java in Android violated seven Java patents Oracle owns. Oracle acquired the Java technology last year when it bought Sun Microsystems for $7.3 million.

No date for the deposition has been set.

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In a separate hearing Thursday Google's attorneys sought to disallow Oracle's estimated damages in the case. Oracle is seeking damages between $1.4 billion and $6.1 billion.

In the Thursday hearing, which a Reuters story described as "testy," U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup indicated that he thought Google might be liable for some damages in the case.

But the judge chastised both parties for what he called their unreasonable positions. "You're both asking for the moon and you should be more reasonable," he said, according to Reuters. The judge is expected to rule soon on Google's motion.

A chief topic of the hearing before Alsup centered on an internal Google e-mail sent by an engineer to Google Android chief Andy Rubin. The e-mail concerned directives by Google co-founders Page and Sergey Brin to explore technology alternatives to Java for developing Android. The e-mail recommended negotiating for a Java license because engineers had reviewed "a hundred" alternatives and concluded "they all suck."

In 2006 Google rejected an offer by Sun under which Google would have paid $100 million to allow it to use Java when developing Android, Google's attorney, Robert Van Nest, said in court, according to the Bloomberg story.

Judge Alsup also took Oracle attorney Steven Holtzman to task when he appeared hesitant to discuss some financial details of the case in open court, according to the Reuters story. "This is a public proceeding. You lawyers and companies are not going to handcuff the court, the judge said, adding: "This is not a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oracle Corp."