The ongoing Oracle-Google Android dispute took yet another interesting turn on Thursday when Sun Microsystems' founder and former boss Scott McNealy, testifying for Oracle, told the federal court that Google needed a license to use Sun's Java programming interfaces for developing its Android mobile operating system.
Siding with Oracle, which acquired the rights to Java with its 2010 purchase of Sun Microsystems, McNealy said that the Java specifications which Google had used for its Android software had to be paid for with a license.
McNealy testified that while Java was a free computer language for which Sun did not charge any fees, Java application programming interfaces, or APIs, were licensed by the company.
With Oracle having accused Google of infringing 37 Java APIs for its Android software by not licensing them, McNealy - comparing the APIs to architectural drawings for a house - said: "This license would allow you to use the architectural drawings, but you could build your own house."
Interestingly, the testimony by McNealy in the case marked a complete contrast to that given by Jonathan Schwartz - McNealy's successor to the CEO's post at Sun - who drew the court's attention to the `openness' of Java, and said that Sun was apparently aware of the fact that there were not enough grounds for the company to take the legal course against Google.
Schwartz, who was testifying for Google, further added that a license would have been required by Google only if the company wanted to use the brand name Java for its Android OS.