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. Photo: Vicki Behringer/Reuters
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.
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.