Oracle wants to grill Google's Page in Android suit

Google also wants to depose Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in the companies intellectual property lawsuit

Oracle wants to put Google CEO Larry Page on the hot seat in the companies' intellectual property lawsuit over the Android mobile operating system, according to a court filing made late Thursday by the companies.

Last year, Oracle sued Google, claiming that Android violated seven of its patents for Java, which it gained through the acquisition of Sun Microsystems. Google has denied wrongdoing.

Page "reportedly made the decision to acquire Android, Inc., and thereby develop and launch the platform that Oracle now contends infringes its [Java] patents and copyrights," the joint filing in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California states. "Mr. Page also participated in negotiations that took place between Sun and Google regarding a Java license for Android and in subsequent communications with Oracle's CEO, Larry Ellison."

Oracle also wants to depose three other people apart from the 10 previously allowed by the court, according to the filing. They include former Google employees Dipchand Nishar and Bob Lee, as well as Android engineer Tim Lindholm.

Google decried Oracle's demands, saying the vendor "failed to get cracking" during the case's discovery period. "[Oracle] did not take its first deposition until April and now, with the end of discovery approaching in less than three weeks, it wants to cram four additional and unnecessary depositions into an already-crowded schedule," Google attorneys said.

There is no need for Oracle to question Page, since it has already deposed Google employee Andy Rubin, who is considered the "father" of Android and led the Sun-Java talks, Google said.

Deposing Page would produce redundant testimony and "only serve to Oracle's goal of harassing Google's most senior executive," Google added.

Oracle disagreed, saying Page "has information that Mr. Rubin cannot have known and admittedly does not know." Google's resistance to having Page deposed is also "manifestly inconsistent" with the fact that it wants to depose Ellison, the filing adds.

A potentially pivotal hearing in the case is set for July 21. Google's motion to exclude the findings of Oracle's damages expert will be discussed at that time, but Judge William Alsup has also asked both sides to provide their views of whether the case should be stayed pending a number of re-examinations of Oracle's patents.

Moreover, in a filing earlier this week Alsup said it "appears possible" Google knew Android might infringe on patents "protecting at least part of Java, entered into negotiations with Sun [Microsystems] to obtain a license for use in Android, then abandoned the negotiations as too expensive, and pushed home with Android without any license at all."

At the hearing, Alsup wants both sides to discuss this scenario's accuracy and how it might affect damages. Google has said Oracle wants between US$1.4 and $6.1 billion, while Oracle has cited a figure of $2.6 billion.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris's e-mail address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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