2012: The year in quotes

Some of the most interesting, and amusing, tech-related quotes this year were uttered in courtrooms

Some of the most memorable IT-related quotes were uttered in courtrooms this year, which involved a steady stream of legal challenges about intellectual property. In no particular order, these are some of the comments that stuck with us as 2012 winds to a close.

Being Ballmer

"Ballmer had something, but I'm not sure it was exactly charisma. He was loud."

-- Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies commenting on news that Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs would give the opening keynote speech at the International CES in 2013 instead of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Microsoft's CEO -- first Bill Gates and then Ballmer -- has given the opening speech every year since 1999.

Hurd imitates Ellison

"Salesforce.com doesn't make any money. They just spend money like crazy. At some point, some shareholder is going to ask them, 'Hey, this thing ever, like, show up with any cash?' I don't know why anyone would buy a stock that doesn't make money."

-- Oracle President Mark Hurd in an interview with Computerworld UK, sounding an awful lot like his boss, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who had a quiet year by his usual quotable standards.

Take this job and shove it

"I believe I resigned. They already had a CEO."

-- Ex-Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz responding to a question from Oracle attorney Michael Jacobs regarding whether Schwartz had been "fired on day one" when Oracle bought Sun. Oracle acquired the rights to Java when it bought Sun in early 2010 and sued Google, accusing it of infringing Java patents and copyrights in the Android OS.

No fury like a scorned IT executive

"It came out in the middle of the night. I saw it the next morning."

-- Hewlett-Packard enterprise chief Ann Livermore testifying that she learned that Oracle would end development for HP's Itanium server chips from a press release she saw on the Web while she was in Virginia preparing for a shareholder meeting.

"I told her that I was furious. I asked her, 'Do you know what you've done?'"

-- Livermore on the substance of a phone call she made to Oracle co-President Safra Catz, with whom she had worked on various issues over the years that HP and Oracle had a partnership. Catz, Livermore said, was unusually quiet during that phone call and left Livermore with the impression that it was also news to her.

"I need to go talk to Larry about this."

-- Catz's response that she needed to ask Ellison what was going on, according to Livermore.

Livermore was testifying during the trial of a lawsuit HP filed against Oracle, contending that Oracle's Itanium decision violated an agreement the companies reached in the wake of Oracle hiring former HP CEO Mark Hurd in September 2010.


"We bought a dog. Nobody wants to sell Sun. It baaaalllllooooows."

-- Keith Block, executive vice president of Oracle's North American sales and consulting organizations, in a July 28, 2011, instant-message exchange that became public this year during the discovery process for the Oracle-Sun lawsuit, regarding difficulties Oracle was having selling Sun servers.

"Pig with lipstick."

-- The response to Block from Oracle human resources executive Anje Dodson.

What makes Meg happy

"Everything is fair in this business. It's a cutthroat, very competitive business. That's what I love about this business."

-- HP CEO Meg Whitman speaking at Gartner's Symposium/ITexpo.

Run! Run for your lives!

"A cyberattack perpetrated by nation states or violent extremist groups could be as destructive as the terrorist attack on 9/11. Such a destructive cyberterrorist attack could virtually paralyze the nation."

-- U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in a speech to business executives.

Heavy lifting

"You should not underestimate the bandwidth of a FedEx box."

-- Amazon CTO Werner Vogels in a keynote speech at Cebit in which he said that big data isn't just about analytics, but about how data is collected, stored, organized and shared.

Magic redefined

"This is how most people will get education; it's how most people will get entertained. These are magic, by anyone's definition."

-- Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt as he held up his smartphone during a panel discussion hosted by the National Military Family Association.

What are you smoking?

"You want me to do an order on 75 pages tonight? When, unless you're smoking crack, you know that these witnesses are not going to be called?"

-- U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh, to Apple attorney William Lee after he presented a 75-page list of 22 witnesses who could be called for rebuttal testimony during a trial in a patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung.

"Your honor, I'm not smoking crack. I can promise you that."

-- Lee's response to Koh.

Wake up!

"I need everyone to stay conscious during the reading of instructions, including myself, so we're going to stand up occasionally to make sure the blood is still flowing."

-- Judge Koh before the final day of arguments in the Apple-Samsung trial.


"HP will be 70 in 2014."

-- Whitman during HP's annual shareholder meeting, saying that her job is to set the company up for "the next 70 years," repeating a line she'd apparently become fond of as she sought to amp up enthusiasm for the company.

"I believe HP was founded in 1939."

-- An unidentified shareholder, correcting Whitman's math, to note that HP passed its 70th birthday already and would be 75 in 2014.

"For three or four months, I've been telling people we're going to set HP up for the next 70 years because we're 70 years old, and you're the first person to correct me on that, so thanks very much."

-- Whitman's response.


"Is there a catch I need to be aware of?"

-- U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup to attorneys in the Oracle-Google lawsuit after Oracle agreed to "zero" damages.


"This is by far the most careful and well-written opinion on software copyright I've ever read. I will be astonished if it is not upheld on appeal."

-- Santa Clara University School of Law professor Tyler Ochoa, giving his opinion of Judge Alsup's ruling in the Oracle-Google lawsuit.

Storied history

"If it hadn't been for the Tokyo earthquake, Sharp might still be making mechanical pencils."

-- Atsushi Okitsu, who helped organize an exhibit about Sharp at the Osaka Entrepreneurial Museum, speaking about how Sharp founder Tokuji Hayawaka refocused the company after a 7.9 magnitude earthquake in 1923 in which his wife and two children died and his mechanical pencil factory was destroyed. Sharp celebrated its 100th birthday this year, but found itself deep in debt.

Of paper clips and bureaucracy

"The problem with the ITU is that it is a large bureaucracy that doesn't have enough to do, and rather than sitting quietly in their office counting paper clips, they are trying to find things to do that generally aren't helpful."

-- Joe McNamee, executive director at EDRi, regarding privacy concerns over a packet inspection standard from the International Telecommunication Union.

Unhappy workers

"They were mainly after the security guards, but when they couldn't find them, the workers went off and smashed other things."

-- A Foxconn worker identified only by his surname Zhou, talking about a riot by workers in September at the factory where Apple's iPhone 5 is produced. Workers blamed the riot on harsh treatment by the guards.

More unhappy workers

"The working conditions here are trash, there's no need to bring it up."

-- Wu, a worker at a factory operated by RiTeng Computer Accessory Co. in Shanghai, where Apple's new iPad mini is built. Workers complained of chemical odors and mismanagement.

Tears of relief

"It is still incredibly emotional. He couldn't speak; he actually literally couldn't speak; and then he cried and then we hugged."

-- Janis Sharp, mother of U.K. hacker Gary McKinnon, after it was announced that he would not be extradited to the U.S.

Larry gets the last word

"Oracle's got 100+ enterprise applications live in the #cloud today, SAP's got nothin' but SuccessFactors until 2020."

-- Ellison's lone tweet of the year.

Tags smartphonesMergers and acquisitionsinternetOraclebusiness issuesGoogleApplelegalstoragesoftwareHewlett-Packardamazonsharpsamsungpersonnelconsumer electronicsintellectual propertysteve ballmerlarry ellisoneric schmidtGary McKinnonmark hurdfoxconnInternational Telecommunication UnionCivil lawsuitsRoger KaySanta Clara University School of LawWerner VogelsMeg WhitmanYEAR ENDTyler OchoaRiTeng Computer Accessory Co.William LeeJanis SharpWilliam AlsupLucy KohEDRi

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