Alan Brenner, speaking at BlackBerry DevCon 2010.
Brenner, a former Sun executive who dealt with Java licensing, testified on behalf of Oracle in federal court today. David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesSAN FRANCISCO—Oracle put two former Sun Microsystems executives on the stand today to testify about how Google’s Android hurt the market for Java licensing to phones.
It’s the eighth day of the Oracle v.
Google trial, the second showdown in a legal dispute that began in 2010, when Oracle sued Google over the use of Java APIs in Android. In 2012, a judge ruled that APIs can’t be copyrighted at all, but an appeals court disagreed. Now Oracle may seek up to $9 billion in damages, while Google is arguing that its use of the 37 APIs in question constitutes “fair use.”
First to the stand was Neil Civjan, Sun’s head of global sales, who testified about how the company’s substantial business licensing Java for mobile phones tanked after the launch of Android.
At the peak, there were 2.6 billion Java-enabled phones constituting 85 percent of all mobile devices in the world.
“We were in Danger, Savage, and some of the smartphones of the time,” said Civjan.
Neil CivjanUnder questioning from Oracle attorney Peter Bicks, Civjan described the impact of Android on the Java licensing business. “Android came on very quickly, very strong,” he said. “It was free.
It was being adopted for phones across the board, all over the world.”
Licensing revenues dropped drastically as Sun either lost contracts or was forced to cut the price.
“In negotiations, they’d say, well, we could ship Android for free—which is basically Java and Linux,” said Civjan. “Why should we want you? We’ve got it cheaper.”
HTC, Sony Ericsson, and Samsung were all early adopters of the new operating system.
In one presentation shortly after the launch of Android, Civjan told his colleagues that he projected a $45 million loss over a three-year period due to competition from Android.
“In one word, can you sum up the impact of Android on Java?” asked Bicks.
“Devastating,” said Civjan. “A huge hit to morale.”
On cross-exam, Google’s attorney pointed out a few elements of Civjan’s testimony that don’t fit with the allegations against Android. While Android used APIs from Java SE (Standard Edition), Sun’s phone-licensing business revolved around Java ME (Mobile Edition).
As for Blackberry—pointed to as one of the big success stories of Java licensing—Google’s lawyer asked whether Civjan knew it ran Windows Mobile operating system, not Java.
“Java’s not an operating system,” Civjan answered. “Java’s a platform.”
Civjan also acknowledged that despite the declining revenue, he was able to hit all his revenue targets while at Sun.
Enforcement and decline
The next witness was Alan Brenner, senior VP of Sun’s client systems group from 1997 until 2007.
Brenner repeated some of the testimony about Java’s rise and fall.
In 2006, shortly before he left Sun, Java was being used in about 80 percent of the phones shipping at the time, he estimated.
He also testified about a Korean research institute that was going to launch its own Java implementation, using the open source GNU Classpath.
Brenner and his team sent a cease and desist letter and ultimately reached out to the US Trade representative, who convinced the Korean institute to take a Java license.
The Korean testimony—which required about 15 minutes of vigorous argument outside the jury’s presence before US District Judge William Alsup would let it in—was meant to rebut a point Google had made earlier.
Ex-Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz had testified that he begrudgingly accepted other implementations of Java, even when he didn’t like the competition.
Brenner told a different narrative. “We were very insistent about enforcing our intellectual property rights,” he said.
On cross-exam, a Google attorney brought up a graph from an internal presentation by Brenner showing “aggressive” and “conservative” estimates of what would happen to Java licensing revenue from 2007 to 2010.
The graph’s “aggressive” line showed a decline from around $140 million per year to about $105 million, and the “conservative” line showed a decline from the same starting point to around $50 million.
The graph was created before the launch of Android. Google’s point was clear: Java was in decline, Android or no Android—and its executives and salespeople knew it.
Testimony will continue throughout today and tomorrow, with closing arguments likely on Monday.
More from the Oracle v.
Read the Ars Technica explainer on the trial’s significance
Jury selection took place on Monday, May 9
Lawyers gave opening statements for Oracle and Google on May 10
Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt testified on May 11
Ex-Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz told jurors he had no problem with Android on May 11
Android chief Andy Rubin testified on Thursday May 12
Top Android programmer Dan Bornstein testified on May 13 and May 16
Oracle CEO Safra Catz testified on May 16 and May 17
Sun’s top Java architects and Oracle’s expert spoke to the jury on May 17
Alan Brenner, speaking at BlackBerry DevCon 2010.