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Google's Schmidt: Sun Micro Was Comfortable With Android Use

By John Letzing Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES SAN FRANCISCO -(Dow Jones)- Former Google Inc. (GOOG) Chief Executive Eric Schmidt testified Tuesday that his one-time employer Sun Microsystems was happy to see Google use Sun's Java technology in the Android mobile phone software. "My understanding was that what we were doing was permissible," said Schmidt, who now serves as Google's executive chairman. Schmidt, who was close to Sun executives, said "there was never an issue" over Google's alleged need to pay for a license to Java. Oracle Corp. (ORCL), which purchased Sun in early 2010, sued Google later that year for allegedly infringing patents and copyrights protecting Sun's Java technology with Android. The related trial in San Francisco began last week. Schmidt, who worked as a Sun executive in the 1990s before joining Google in 2001, described a cordial relationship with former Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz. Schwartz did not express dismay with Google's implementation of Java in Android, Schmidt said. When confronted with internal Google memos describing a need to obtain a Java license for Android, Schmidt countered that Google was interested only in a license for Java's signature coffee cup trademarks, not copyrights. Schmidt said Google did at one point negotiate with Sun for the right to use the essential code for Java at a price of up to $50 million, but when Sun sought to have too much control as a part of any partnership, Google managed to develop an alternative way to implement Java in Android that did not involve a license. Trial proceedings began Tuesday with a debate over whether or not to allow a blog post written by Schwartz to be presented. The post, written shortly after Google announced its Android project, congratulated Google and celebrated the idea that Android has "strapped rockets" to Java's development. Oracle objected unsuccessfully to the introduction of the post by Schwartz, who is not an Oracle employee. An Oracle attorney asserted it was written before Google released full details about its use of Java. Judge William Alsup said Google has the right to try to prove Sun had been enthusiastic about Android before Sun was acquired by Oracle. "How can Oracle say it's been damaged," Judge Alsup wondered aloud in regard to Android, "if Sun thought it was such a great thing?" Oracle rested the copyright portion of its case Tuesday morning, and Google began presenting its own arguments. Each side called Schmidt as a witness. -By John Letzing, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-765-8230; john.letzing@dowjones.com

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