Eric Schmidt takes stand at Oracle-Google trial

The Alphabet chairman gave little ground under questioning

Eric Schmidt took the witness stand Tuesday in Oracle’s copyright infringement lawsuit against Google, and he gave little ground during some tense exchanges with Oracle’s attorney.

The chairman of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, was the first witness called in the trial, in which Oracle accuses Google of infringing its Java copyrights in Android.

Schmidt was initially questioned by Google's own attorneys, and testified that Google did not believe it needed a license to use 37 Java application programming interfaces for which Oracle owns the copyright.

Asked for the basis of that belief, he replied: “Forty years of experience,” implying it was common belief in the industry that APIs can be used without a license.

The mood was more tense when Oracle attorney Peter Bicks began his cross-examination of Schmidt, but the Alphabet chairman kept his cool.

Bicks wanted to show the jury that Google requires a license for the use of its own APIs, and that it considers its intellectual property a highly valuable asset.

“Are you telling me that you don’t treat your APIs as proprietary?” Bicks asked Schmidt at one point.

Google has "millions of APIs,” Schmidt replied, and asked for a specific example.

“I’m not aware of one that we treat as proprietary in the way you’re asking your question,” Schmidt said later.

At another point, as Bicks tried to get Schmidt to acknowledge that Google was in a hurry to get Android to market, Schmidt contested that the iPhone was a competitor to its mobile OS.

“You knew the iPhone was a competing product to Android, didn't you?” Bicks asked.

“That’s actually not correct,” Schmidt replied. “The original version of Android was a different kind of mobile platform.”

He finally acknowleged that Google was under "strategic pressure" to get its OS to market.

At another point, Schmidt said he didn’t recognize the name Henrique de Castro, a well known executive who ran Google’s mobile platforms division while Schmidt was CEO. When Schmidt finally recognized the name, he said Bicks had been pronouncing it incorrectly.

His responses made it more difficult for Bicks to establish points he wanted to make in front of the jury. But it also meant that Bicks wasn’t finished with his questioning when court wrapped for the day at 1 pm.

That means Schmidt will have to be back in court at 7:30 am Wednesday to finish up.

Google attorney Bob Van Nest protested that Oracle was almost done with Schmidt as a witness, but Judge William Alsup said the jury had a right to finish on time.

“I know this witness is a busy man, and so is the jury, and right now the jury’s convenience counts for a lot more,” Alsup said.

The case is expected to last about four weeks, and Oracle is seeking $8.8 billion in damages. Google says its use of the APIs is protected by the legal doctrine of "fair use" and that it owes Oracle nothing.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?