Oracle Considered Buying RIM and Palm, Ellison Says

Oracle considered buying Palm and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion as part of an aborted effort to build its own smartphone, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said in court Tuesday.

Oracle decided that RIM was too expensive and Palm wasn't competitive enough, and Oracle didn't have enough expertise in-house to develop a smartphone by itself, Ellison said.

"We explored the idea (of building a phone) and decided it would be a bad idea," he told the court.

Ellison was on the stand for the second day of Oracle's patent and copyright infringement trial against Google. Oracle accuses Google of using its intellectual property without a license to build Google's Android OS. Google says it did nothing wrong.

Ellison made his remarks under cross-examination by an attorney for Google, who was trying to convince the jury that Oracle filed its lawsuit because its own smartphone efforts had failed, and that Oracle now wants to piggyback on Android's success.

The jury also heard testimony Tuesday from Google CEO Larry Page, who was shown in a videotaped segment answering questions from one of Oracle's attorneys, David Boies. Oracle hoped to use the testimony to show the jury that Google knew it needed a Java license to develop Android.

At one point, Boies shows Page a document prepared by Google's Android team, which states that Google "must take a license from Sun." Asked about the document, Page said he was "confused" by it.

"So it's your testimony, as you sit there, that you don't understand what 'must take a license from Sun' means?" Boies asked.

"Sorry, I don't know what that refers to. It's not consistent with my understanding of Java," Page replied.

Boies: "Rubin's team was asserting that Google was required to take some kind of license from Sun, isn't that correct?"

Page: "I wouldn't agree with that statement."

Boies: "Well, does 'must' mean 'require'?"

Page: "I agree that's written but I don't agree with the statement."

Google gave its opening statement to the jury earlier Tuesday, after Oracle gave its opening statement the day before. It's now up to Oracle to prove its infringement case to the jury. Google denies any wrongdoing and will get to call its own witnesses after Oracle has made its case.

Ellison also testified that creating software APIs (application programming interfaces) is "arguably one of the most difficult things we do at Oracle." He told the jury that companies can choose one of three types of licenses to use Java. Nokia, LG and Samsung, for example, all pay for a commercial license.

"The only company I know that hasn't taken any of these licenses is Google," Ellison said.

The trial continues Wednesday, when Oracle is expected to call Page to the stand to testify in person.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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