Morning Coffee Apr 18 2012

Google, Oracle CEOs Face Off In Court

By joseph walker

The legal battle between Google and Oracle continued yesterday as the companies' billionaire chief executives took the stand to testify in the patent and copyright infringement trial. Google used Oracle's Java programming tools to develop its Android operating system without paying for a license, Oracle alleges.

If Oracle wins, it could be awarded damages of about $1 billion, The Wall Street Journal reports. Ellison argued in his testimony that it's suing to protect Oracle's intellectual property so it can continue to invest in software development. "If people could copy our software and create cheap knockoffs of our products, we wouldn't get paid for our engineering and wouldn't be able to invest what we invest," Ellison said, according to a San Jose Mercury News report. Oracle spends about $5 billion annually in research and development.

Page, who was described as "hesitant" in his testimony by the Mercury News, said that he was largely ignorant of how Android was developed. "I think we did nothing wrong," Page said. In fact, Google's lawyers seemed to make a 'jilted lover' kind-of defense, saying that Oracle wants to cash in on Android's success and only filed the suit after Google turned down a proposal to use Java in Android.

Ellison, who is rumored to be the inspiration behind comic book and film action superhero Iron Man, admitted that he toyed with the idea of developing a Java-based smartphone of his own, and even considered buying handset makers Research In Motion and Palm. Ultimately, he decided it was a "bad idea," he said.

The trial, while highlighting the litigious atmosphere around patents and mobile in Silicon Valley right now, also sheds light on the more cynical side of the open-source software movement. Both Java and Android are free and open-source, but as this trial shows, nothing is ever truly free.

Up All Night (WSJ)

Instagram Chief Executive Kevin Systrom initially told his Facebook counterpart Mark Zuckerberg that he wanted $2 billion for his company. But over the course of a long weekend, and without either of their boards of directors knowing, the two 20-somethings negotiated the $1 billion price tag.

Buyer's Remorse (FINS)

Not everyone loves an open-plan office without private workspaces or cubicles. The arrangement has some co-workers at each other's throats.

Paying Up (CNBC)

President Obama paid a lower rate on his taxes last year than his secretary, and you may have paid a higher income-tax rate than your employer. A new report says that Apple paid just 9.8% of its income and Google chipped in 11.9% of its income.

Overseas (Times of India)

Wal-Mart plans to hire 100 software developers in India this year. The company wants engineers with experience in high scale computing and network infrastructure to help build its e-commerce platform.

Hold Off (WSJ)

Student loan debt is keeping some Americans from buying homes, starting families and going on vacation. That's what happens when 60% of your paycheck goes to paying back banks for your education.

Own It (Digits)

Twitter has a new recruiting weapon and it's called the Innovator's Patent Agreement. It lets engineers keep some control over their inventions and states that patents will only be used for defensive purposes.

Debate (NYT)

Telecommunications companies like AT&T and Verizon say there's a big shortage of spectrum that could drive up costs of wireless data plans. But some engineers say the spectrum crisis is pretty easily solved with technology and the telecoms are just trying to maintain their monopolies.

Contest (Ars Technica)

Calling all data geeks who could use some cash. NASA is offering up to $10,000 to the person or persons who can make 100 terabytes of data from space missions easier to handle for scientists and presentable for nonscientists.

Where Are They Now (Bloomberg)

With news that Zynga will continue its acquisition of smaller game companies, it's worth nothing that most of the start-up founders previously "acquihired" by the company have since moved on to new projects. Here's a rundown.

Buzz Around the Office

Superman Gets Bloated (YouTube)

It's hard to fight crime when you've eaten and drunk that much.

List of the Day: Acing the Interview

Sometimes you don't have to wait until after the interview to know if went well. Here are some signs you're hitting it out of the park.

1. The interviewer asks you to expand on something you've said.

2. They lean forward and act interested in what you're talking about.

3. They take their time throughout the interview.

(Source: CBS Money Watch)

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