Google lawyer trips Oracle CEO Ellison in court

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, testifying in the Java-Android copyright case, sounds like a gift to Google's lawyers.

“Do you understand that no one owns the Java programming language?” lead counsel Robert Van Nest asked. Ellison began a longer answer, but Judge William Alsup interrupted him and said it was a “yes or no” question. Finally Ellison said, “I’m not sure.”

“And anyone can use it without royalty?” Van Nest followed up.

“I’m not sure,” Ellison said again.

Then Van Nest showed a video of Ellison receiving the same question on a deposition video and answering “That’s correct” to both.

Obvious questions, ill-prepared answers. A few billion in the can does a lot for confidence!

Ellison Flustered as Google and Oracle Argue Over Java [Caleb Garling at Wired]

UPDATE: Google's Larry Page was "evasive" when it was his turn to take the stand, Wired reports.


  1. Oh that’s just the kind of “gotcha!” lawyerin’ that the LAME-stream justice system likes to throw in your face, dontcha know?

    (Comment removed for political humor in 3… 2… 1…)

    1. To the contrary, the fact that a judge can force someone to make yes or no answers is  part of the disease of our justice system.

      1. I ‘m not aware there was a judge at his deposition, and I’m not sure anyone made him contradict himself after that.

  2. I read the headline hoping it was literal.  

    That smug bastard deserves it, and it’d be awesome for a lawyer to trip him.

    1.  Both sides are going to be paying millions upon millions in legal fees. The lawyers are already playing a huge joke on everyone involved.

  3. If Congressional testimonies are any indication, you can literally get away with anything if you answer every question with “I’m not sure” or “I don’t really know”.

    1. I bet if one of Ellison’s underlings said “I don’t know” to him in response to such a basic question he would’ve kicked him out the door.

  4. The name “Oracle” comes from a CIA project Ellison worked on in the mid-70s. About 25% of Oracle’s revenue still comes from government contracts.

     There are allegations that the software originally came from the Soviets:

    Of course it appears Ellison has modeled his lifestyle on Bond villains,but that is neither here nor there. We can at least take comfort in the extreme shoddiness of Oracles’ tools for corporate and governmental surveillance of us proles.

    1. “Extreme shoddiness” is putting a little too-fine a point on it. Oracle has its strengths, and by strengths I don’t mean “at sucking.”

    1. If you took all the Java code and rewrote it in Smalltalk for a Smalltalk VM (which I am sure can be done) you could cut that smug Ellison off at the knees and leave him with his oh-so valuable Java language as viable as Arameic is.

      There’s a lot I don’t understand about this lawsuit. Its like trying to sue someone over speaking French instead of Greek. I guess he doesn’t understand deep contextual dependencies.

      Mostly my disbelief over the whole lawsuit has to do with the utter transmutability of object-oriented languages and their implementation in any variety of finite state machines.

      I wrote some programs in IMS-2000 COBOL running on a IBM 370 mainframe after first thinking up of what they should be doing in Smallltalk-80.

      They worked (coded/compiled/ran,) properly the first time (yeah, incredible, right? :-) because I knew what I was supposed to be doing and I knew what the computer was supposed to be doing.

      I mean, its a finite state machine. I don’t care what the original expression of it is, its all reducible to virtual machine instructions.

      Its merely some interpreters/interpiler’s job to execute the code after that on the actual machine.

      Unless Larry Ellison wants to claim the concepts covering virtual machines I suggest he pack up his socks and get his ass out of town. (If he wants to play that game I can bring up prior art from UCSD Pascal running on my Osborne 1 computer.)

      1. Do you think he bought Sun not understanding what he was getting, getting into? Oh wait, I guess now we know.

  5. Where is the line between language and library drawn? Clearly System.* is fundamental to Java, but where does it end and what is the measure?  Is org.YourCo.* just an idea, that anyone else can re-implement? Somehow that seems wrong too.  Anyway I hope Java stays unencumbered.

  6. The ambiguity of Java’s licenses is a good reason to stay away from it.   Normal software is legally complex enough without throwing a VM into the mix.

  7. After reading the title of this post I was ready to read a great story about Ellison smashing his face into the floor after walking a little too close to the Google lawyers. Oh well. 

    1. Google should have all of the libraries and all Java code machine translated into C++ or Smalltalk, or CLOS or Neon or Eiffel or most any Object-Oriented language. (Even Object-Oriented COBOL)

      No humans need be involved.They can even rebrand Java into G++, a new regular* language and really screw Ellison. (Recursive descent compilers make it so easy now to write a  language that I would set this as a task for sophomore CS students.)

      I’m sorry but this whole thing is a friggin’ joke.

      *) Regular has meaning in terms of how you set up your production grammar but its easy. I wrote one for a particular problem that my second to last employers had. I even wrote an EBNF interpreter in VisualAge Smalltalk to resolve it. (EBNF->VA Smalltalk->running code.)

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