Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Oracle Lawyers Ask to Depose Larry Page and Other Current or Former Googlers

Lawyers for Oracle have asked to take depositions from Google CEO Larry Page and three other current or former Google employees, in connection with the lawsuit between the two companies over Java.

In a nine-page letter to the court, which you can read below, Oracle explained that Page, then a Google president, made the decision to acquire Android in 2005, and that later he participated in the licensing talks that occurred between Sun Microsystems and Google concerning Android’s use of Java. He also participated in further communications with Oracle CEO Larry Ellison after that company acquired Sun last year.

Oracle is also seeking to take a deposition of three other people in the case:

Dipchand “Deep” Nishar: The Wall Street Journal described Nishar as an “unsung Google hero” in 2008 when he left to join LinkedIn as its vice president of product. Oracle cites his LinkedIn profile as saying he “started and managed Google’s mobile initiatives worldwide” from 2005 to 2007. Oracle says that Nishar was involved with the Java negotiations between Sun and Google, and wrote several of the documents that Oracle says are going to prove relevant in the case.

Bob Lee: Currently the CTO at Square, Jack Dorsey’s mobile payment start-up, Lee was before that a software engineer at Google whom Oracle portrays in the letter as having “led the core library development for Android.” Oracle says his testimony “would be relevant both with respect to certain aspects of Oracle’s liability and damages theories,” and that documents Lee wrote, which Oracle expects to produce as evidence, demonstrate an “intimate knowledge of Sun’s licensing practices, which is relevant to Oracle’s claims of willful infringement.”

Tim Lindholm: A former Sun Microsystems employee, Lindholm, Oracle says, created some of the Java technologies at issue in the lawsuit. As Oracle puts it: “He constructed one of the very first Java virtual machines, and came to Google with intimate knowledge of the Java platform architecture.” Lindholm not only built the first Java virtual machine, he cowrote a book on it. “In addition, Mr. Lindholm participated in the negotiations that took place between Sun and Google for a Java license,” Oracle says.

Coming only days after the judge in the case, William Alsup, notified Google that he has some tough questions about some of the underlying facts in the case — there is the awkward fact that Google did initially negotiate both with Sun and Oracle for a Java license and then walked away — this request is Oracle’s way of turning up the heat on Google.

Oracle sued Google last August, saying that Android infringes on Java patents it owns. (Original complaint here.) Oracle recently told the court it thinks Google should cough up $2.6 billion in damages.

Oracle’s letter contains the text of a Google statement opposing the deposition requests, saying the request is late and that deposing Page is a “harassing demand” and irrelevant to the case at hand. “Oracle comes to this Court ‘gnashing [its] teeth’ with an eleventh-hour attempt to cram extra depositions into the last couple weeks of the discovery period,” the statement says.

Google argues that Oracle has already deposed Andy Rubin, Google’s VP of mobile platforms, and Dan Bornstein, whom it describes as the “primary architect” of one of the Java virtual machines at issue in the case. (See Bornstein talk about it in this video from Google I/O in 2008.) These two should meet Oracle’s needs, Google says.

Oracle rebutted that Google has asked to depose Ellison, and that Google had sought to prevent Oracle from deposing former Google CEO and current Chairman Eric Schmidt.

The companies are supposed to have wrapped up the discovery phase ahead of the trial by July 29, but these new requests would seem to push that phase into August and ultimately delay the start of the trial.

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google