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Google CEO Can’t Recall Much|in Trial Over Patented Java Tech

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - If court testimony is any indication, Google CEO Larry Page won't remember anything about his company's alleged infringement of patented Java technology.

Looking ill at ease in his second day on the stand Wednesday, Page stared and smiled at the jury but avoided making eye contact with attorney David Boies, who represents Java patent owner Oracle in the closely watched case.

Page skirted around key issues surrounding Google's alleged use of 37 Java application programming interfaces (APIs), and his company's decision not to obtain license those APIs from Sun Microsystems. Oracle acquired Sun in 2010.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup had reprimanded Boies on Tuesday for badgering, but the Boies, Schiller & Flexner partner continued Wednesday morning as he tried to pin down Google's corporate position on intellectual property rights.

"Is it a violation of Google policy to copy copyrighted materials," Boies asked.

Page answered: "I'm not aware of any such policy. We do a lot to respect intellectual property."

The refrain continued when Boies asked if Google ever disciplined anyone for copying material.

"I'm not aware of any such action," Page said.

Boies then tried to get Page to commit to admitting that the company willfully used Oracle's APIs for its Android operating system after licensing talks with Sun Microsystems broke down.

"Were you told in August 2010 that Google needed to negotiate a license for Java," Boies asked.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup interrupted when Page again said "I don't recall."

"Most of the questions are yes-or-no, and you should try to answer in that spirit," Alsup said to Page. "So let's do that."

Boies then reiterated his question: "Did Google ever get a license from Oracle for Java?"

"I don't think that we did, no," Page admitted nearly an hour into his testimony.

Boies asked if Page himself had ever asked anyone if Google was using copyrighted APIs, pointing to internal Android development memos from 2005 that stressed the need for licensing agreements for Java APIs.

"I don't recall," Page answered.

"Google copyrights its APIs, right," Boies asked.

"I'm not sure if we do or not," Page said. "I think everything is copyrighted by default, but I'm not a lawyer."

In his final direct question for Page, Boies asked: "Are you aware of any company other than Google that uses Java APIs and does not take a license from Sun?"

"I know that IBM has had a long torturous relationship with Sun, so I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't," Page said.

"Maybe Apache Harmon," he added, citing the open-source, free Java implementation developed by Apache Software Foundation. "I'm not an expert. I don't know."

In his cross-examination, Google's lead attorney Robert Van Nest asked Page what Google sought in a relationship with Sun.

"We wanted their technology," Page said. "It would have saved us a lot of time and trouble to use their technology.

"It would have been our preference to have a real partnership with Sun, but eventually we had to make a big investment and make our own technology and it's done really well for us," he added.

Though Page could not definitively answer Boies as to why licensing negotiations broke down with Sun, Page was more cooperative with Van Nest. "Ultimately the kind of business models we had in mind with Android, which is open-source system, were in conflict with Sun's methods," he said.

On redirect, Page again could "not recall" whether Google discussed APIs in 2005-06 while developing the Android system.

"So you don't recollect any discussions about any APIs," Boies asked.

"We talk about APIs every day, just not Java APIs," Page answered.

"Smoking gun" emails between Google engineer Tom Lindholm, a former Sun Microsystems employee, and Android head Andy Rubin are a much-anticipated piece of evidence in the trial.

The emails, which were often copied to Page, show Lindholm repeatedly calling for an agreement with Sun on what he calls "a critical license."

Page denied he knew Lindholm personally, but only "knew of him." Google's attorneys were successful in keeping some of the emails out of the jury's hands - for now.

"The two sides won't sit down and work things out, so we'll have to do this the hard way," Alsup said, ordering Boies to verify the email's authenticity with witnesses and then recalling Page to the stand.

While Java itself is free, it also has a set of licenses that are required for specific uses. Alsup told the jury that Oracle isn't accusing Google of copyright infringement because of Android's use of Java, but for the 37 APIs and two files that contain nine lines of code Oracle says is "symbol for symbol, line for line copyright infringement."

Google claims that Android's 15 million lines of code are all free portions of Java software and not protected by copyright law. Oracle disputes this, and asserts that Google also used documentation, architecture and developer tools which all require a license to use.

Oracle estimates its damages at more than $1 billion. The trial is expected to last into June.

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