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Google engineer Lindholm: 'I had little involvement in Android'

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Java One
Java One

As anticipated, today's schedule in the copyright phase of the Oracle v. Google infringement case included testimony from Tim Lindholm. Lindholm joined Google as a software engineer in 2005 and has gained some notoriety as the author of the 2010 email allegedly attempting to convince Android chief Andy Rubin that officially licensing Java was the best solution for Android:

"What we've actually been asked to do (by Larry and Sergei) is to investigate what technical alternatives exist to Java for Android and Chrome. We've been over a bunch of these, and think they all suck. We conclude that we need to negotiate a license for Java under the terms we need."

Oracle started out with the standard questions on Lindholm's background — namely, his history at Sun Microsystems working with the Java language. A little research of our own shows that Lindholm worked for Sun Microsystems for seven years, prior to joining Google, where he apparently contributed to the creation of the Java programming language, including the Java Micro Edition adapted to run on mobile devices.

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

Lindholm went on to testify that he did meet with Andy Rubin once while at Sun, when Android was still an independent start-up. As expected, though, it didn't take Oracle long to get to the 2010 email. However, the substance of his testimony so far is a little unexpected.

"it was not a license specifically from anybody."

When asked about whether his email was advising Rubin that they needed to negotiate a Java license with Oracle, his answer was simply "No." He went on to explain that "it was not a license specifically from anybody" and that he "had very little involvement in Android." While Lindholm's interpretation of the email didn't come across as particularly evasive in the courtroom, it certainly seemed to be a narrowly-defined response in light of his later statements that he had in fact worked with the Android team for more than a year. It's likely Oracle will just let the jury decide whether they believe him.

Google followed Oracle with its own questions regarding yet another email. In Lindholm's 2006 missive to Bill Coughran, then a Google employee himself, Lindholm refers to how he had been working with Andy Rubin to help "negotiate with my old team at Sun for a critical license." Lindholm characterized the email as simply a heads-up to his boss that he would be out of the office, and stated that the negotiations were for a potential partnership between Sun and Google that would have seen Sun's source code formerly integrated into Android. Obviously, the deal didn't end up happening. How Lindholm's explanation meshes with the rest of the emails is still a bit murky, but with Google working hard to refute the inferences of this and other internal communications we'll see if things clear up over time. We'll keep you posted.

Bryan Bishop contributed to this report.