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Oracle probes Google engineer

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison (center right) is pictured being questioned by Google attorney Robert Van Nest during the ...

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison (center right) is pictured being questioned by Google attorney Robert Van Nest during the second day of trial over patents involving Java.

A Google engineer, testifying in a high-stakes trial pitting Oracle against Google, denied that he referred to Oracle or any other company when he wrote in an email that Google should take a licence to use the Java programming language.

The trial entered its fourth day on Thursday, with Google engineer Timothy Lindholm taking the stand to answer questions about a 2010 email that has become a critical piece of evidence in the case.

Oracle sued Google in August 2010, saying Google's Android mobile operating system infringes its copyrights and patents for the Java programming language. Google countered that it does not violate Oracle's patents and that Oracle cannot copyright certain parts of Java, an "open-source," or publicly available, software language.

During opening statements, an Oracle attorney displayed several Google emails to the jury, calling them prime evidence that Google took its intellectual property.

One of them involved Lindholm, a former Sun Microsystems employee who began work at Google in 2005. Shortly before Oracle sued Google in 2010, Lindholm penned an email to Android chief Andy Rubin, saying he had been asked by top Google executives to investigate technical alternatives to Java for Android.

"We've been over a bunch of these, and think they all suck," Lindholm wrote. "We conclude that we need to negotiate a licence for Java under the terms we need."

Oracle bought Sun Microsystems, the originator of Java, in 2010.

In court on Thursday, Lindholm acknowledged that he penned the email. However, he told Oracle attorney David Boies that he was not referring to a licence from Sun.

"It was not specifically a licence from anybody," Lindholm said.

Lindholm then told Google attorney Christa Anderson that he understood the software over which Oracle is claiming copyright to be free for use by other people.

Early in the case, estimates of potential damages against Google ran as high as $US6.1 billion. But the company has narrowed Oracle's claims to only two patents from seven originally, reducing the possible award. Oracle is seeking roughly $US1 billion in copyright damages.


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6 comments so far

  • Google and Sun have given us some great products such as Open Office for free, it's too bad they have to pay lawyers to fight over stuff they are giving us for free. Copyright laws seem to be a bit onerous for modern conditions. People used to say, "If you had a million monkeys typing for a million years one of them would write the bible", but now we do have a billion monkeys typing for ten years and it's still growing exponentially.

    Date and time
    April 21, 2012, 9:05AM
    • May be he was referring to a driving license from VicRoads? Not a big fan of patents, but there was a clear violation, and knew Sun wouldn't sue them. Pay up already!

      Date and time
      April 21, 2012, 7:51PM
      • "Lindholm penned an email"
        I'd like to see that.

        Date and time
        April 21, 2012, 11:22PM
        • This seems to be a case of shutting the gate after the horse has bolted. If Sun had wanted to protect their license, surely the JDK (Java Development Kit) wouldn't been available for free download by all and sundry?!? Compare it to Microsoft C# which is Microsoft's near-identical product. You can't download that anywhere for free, same as any other MS programming tool.

          These days Oracle aren't much better than Micro$oft, they are carpetbaggers who just want to buy out other companies to eliminate competition rather than innovate.

          Date and time
          April 22, 2012, 9:39AM
          • Everyone knows that theft is only when someone else takes YOUR stuff.

            Tim Balmer
            Date and time
            April 23, 2012, 6:35AM
            • This is a very interesting case and is being covered by Groklaw for those who are keen to learn more. If you are a Java or Dalvik/Android developer it could be of interest..... Larry Ellison may own you after this trial concludes.

              Date and time
              April 24, 2012, 8:38AM

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