SAN FRANCISCO -- Google's senior vice president of mobile, Andy Rubin, took the stand on Monday afternoon during the ongoing intellectual property trial between Google and Oracle.
As the founder of Android, the startup that Google acquired in 2005 that has evolved into the smartphone platform we know today, Rubin was called to the stand by Oracle's legal team to answer questions about whether or not he was involved in discussions about obtaining licenses to use Java on Android.
When Rubin took the stand on Monday, he appeared considerably more relaxed than either of his Google colleagues, CEO Larry Page or software engineer Tim Lindholm, when they testified last week.
Nevertheless, the mood in the courtroom quickly changed as Oracle counsel David Boies immediately asked Rubin about his knowledge of Java core APIs and packages.
Rubin described "Java core APIs" as "a term that is often used by Sun Microsystems and Oracle to describe...part of the product that involves the Java language class files."
When pressed as to how many Java core APIs exist, Rubin couldn't offer a guess, also noting that he doesn't use the term, "Java core APIs."
Boies grilled Rubin using several emails that Rubin had sent to other top Google employees involved with Android, some of which were to get his take on the emails that Boies had brought up with both Page and Lindholm.
The first one from Rubin to Lindholm, dated July 29, 2005, included an agenda, which had the bullet point, "Google needs a TCK license."
Recalling that "Google did not need a license for the Java programming language," Boies discussed with the witness that the license must be referring to something else.
Furthermore, in another email Rubin wrote in December 2005,
My reasoning is that either a) we'll partner with Sun as contemplated in our most recent discussion or b) we'll take a license. i think a clean room implementation is unlikely because of the teams prior knowledge.
Boies interrogated Rubin about the clean room implementation bit, in particular, but Rubin avoided going into detail about that, instead replying, "I think that's reading a lot into that small sentence."
Finally, in another email, dated March 24, 2006, in response to a message received earlier that day from Google engineering manager Greg Stein, Rubin wrote:
I don't see how you can open java without sun, since they own the brand and ip
Rubin affirmed that "ip" referred to "intellectual property." In the same email chain, Boies continued the clean room thread:
Java lang apis are copyrighted. Sun gets to say who they license the TCK to and forces you to take the shared part which taints any cleanroom implementation.
"In the context of this," Rubin said that he believed the APIs were copyrighted by Sun.
However, he could not elaborate further on Monday as Judge William Alsup adjourned questioning for the day.
Rubin will be back on the stand on Tuesday morning, expected to be followed by Google executive chairman (and former CTO of Sun Microsystems) Eric Schmidt.
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