Android chief: We didn't think we needed a license from Sun

Android chief: We didn't think we needed a license from Sun

Summary: After three days on the stand, Google's head of Android Andy Rubin completes his testimony in the copyright portion of the Oracle-Google trial.


SAN FRANCISCO -- Android chief Andy Rubin wrapped up his testimony on Wednesday morning in the copyright portion of the Oracle-Google trial at the U.S. District Court.

See also: Trial: Android chief on why Java was picked for Android Google's Rubin spars with Oracle over definition of fragmentation Closing statements in Oracle-Google trial expected on Monday

Google counsel Robert Van Nest picked up from where he left off on Tuesday afternoon, asking Rubin what happened after initial negotiations with Sun Microsystems ended in 2006. Rubin said that the Android team went forward to build the mobile operating system on its own.

"We wrote code ourselves, obviously," said Rubin, "In developing Android, we assembled it from various pieces."

Although it is constantly evolving, Rubin commented that there are 15 million lines of source code and "many thousands" of independent files that make up Android.

Also dabbling with the the Linux system among other technologies, Rubin added that Google partnered with companies on open handset lines, paying them for contributions back into Android.

One example of a contribution that Google paid for is the media framework from Packet Video, which is used on Android for decoding video files.

Rubin said that it took roughly three years from inception to completion of Android 1.0 in 2008. He also explained that what was released in 2007 -- an Android SDK -- wasn't enough for a smartphone, but rather just enough for third-party developers to write their own apps for Android.

"The SDK allowed the programmer to see the APIs that were in existence on that early date," Rubin said, noting it would have included some of the Java APIs in question in this case at that time.

Rubin affirmed that anyone could have seen this as early as October 2007, saying, "All they needed to do was go to our website and click the download button."

However, during cross-examination, Oracle counsel David Boies asked Rubin whether or not there was any record of anyone at Sun praising Google's use of Java for Android after the SDK was released. (Boies pointed out that Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz's blog post praising Google was after the announcement of Android but before the SDK was released.)

Rubin said there were a few -- including conversations with Sun CTO Vineet Gupta -- but there isn't any written record confirming these comments.

When asked if Android application developers are writing primarily in the Java language, Rubin noted that in order to write an app for Android, it has to include Java. One reason behind that was to have support for legacy applications from third-party partners, such as games from Electronic Arts.

The open source project Apache Harmony, in particular, has repeatedly been brought up in this trial, serving as a comparative example for Google of using Java APIs on an open source platform.

"It's open source. That's what's magical about this," Rubin remarked.

Rubin acknowledged that there were other companies trying to build upon the Apache Harmony project, but IBM was the only example that Rubin could confirm.

"The whole purpose of that project was to implement a clean-room version of the Java APIs," Rubin said, adding that there were many other (albeit "uncoordinated") efforts also trying to do this.

Rubin also explained, "The Apache Software Foundation also has their own version of an open source license. It's a small legal document that basically describes your rights as a customer of this open source project."

Taking all of this together, Van Nest asked Rubin if he thought at the time that Google would need a license to use the Java APIs. Rubin replied, "We did not believe that we needed a license from Sun."

Rubin also said that the first time he heard of any violation in regards to Android and its use of Java APIs was at the beginning of this lawsuit.

"One of the benefits of open source is providing our work openly and freely is that other people can expect it," Rubin said, asserting that there's nothing "hidden" in the Android source code.

Yet also during cross-examination, Boies asked Rubin if he was aware whether or not that Sun had prohibited Java SE implementation on anything but a desktop or server. Rubin replied that he was aware of this.

Boies and Rubin then sparred over whether or not he was not aware of an email exchange between Google software engineer Bob Lee and executive chairman Eric Schmidt that explained that these restrictions extended to prevent Apache Harmony from independently implementing Java SE.

Boies was steadfast that Rubin knew, while Rubin denied any knowledge about this.

Boies then questioned Rubin if he knew of any other company besides Google using Apache Harmony commercially without a license from Sun. Rubin replied the Apache Software Foundation, but Boies said that is a non-profit organization. Rubin replied that he wasn't sure about that.


Topics: Mobility, Android, Google, Hardware, Mobile OS, Security, Smartphones

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  • We did not believe that we needed a license from Sun

    because we are so used to getting everything for free in Linux
    • "We didn't think we needed a license from Sun" -- but they *did*

      Mails between Google's bosses confirm that they did think of licensing before and after November of 2006.
      • When a License is required

        A license is required if you say it contains Java or Java technology. Java is a registered trademark.

        Oracles argument boils down to saying that the Oracle is owed licensing fees if anyone uses or copies any of the ISO Java standards. What Google did was to redirect the API calls from the JVM to Dalvik addresses. for that, they needed the API documentation, but only the documentation.

        In Android, a dependency library is used with Java to write the application, then the whole thing is run through a translator that generates the Dalvik byte code. Android never actually uses Java. The developers get Java from Oracle. The entire case rests on whether the translator violates Oracles copyrights or not.

        Last time I looked, Oracle didn't own ISO.
  • But IBM aren't building on Harmony

    They cut all ties and are working on OpenJDK
  • oracle is on the hook

    for promissory estoppel. the FOSS nature of android nullifies any monetary claims from oracle.
    The Linux Geek
    • LOL!

      your best one yet!
      William Farrel
      • just watch how legal scholars

        will raise equitable defences and and Oracle will be found guilty of promissory estoppel. As for the $$$: 0 * 100000000 = 0 in license fees!
        The Linux Geek
      • Both wrong

        Linux geek is wrong here. The issue isn't just that. It's also whether in submitting the Java Specifications to ISO, Oracle still has complete copyright over anything using some of the references in the ISO standards. If so, then Oracle can sue Google over the damages to its reputation. That is worth money.

        by the current valuation before the court, the current value in the dispute is around $35 Million.

        However, Google can countersue and claim damages in the same ball park.
    • Ah, yes, the clueless idiot speaks again...

      So, according to you, I can steal the source code of Photoshop from Adobe, then I can port it to Linux and give it away for free, and there is nothing Adobe can do about it.

      Did you spend a lot of time running head-first into walls when you were a child?
      • A bit rich

        since no one is talking about stolen source code. Now what you were saying?
      • it seems that he did less head-first into walls than you...

        Photoshop is not open source, Java is.

        This boils down to greedy Oracle trying to piggy back on Google success.

        I have now just moved out of OpenOffice into LibreOffice so I avoid Oracle, Google will probably do the same moving to a really open Java.
      • Stolen Code???

        No one is claiming that Google stole code from Oracle or Sun. You don't appear to know what this case is about. It's not code, it's much more nebulous than that.

        No, it's more like Adobe suing you because you wrote and gave away a program that does a little bit of something that Photoshop does, only does that one thing better.
    • Licenses

      When a License says that you must obey certain rules in order to use a product commercially, then you either do, or you violate the license. Then, Google must prove that they did not use Android for commercial purposes.

      Even if Google can prove this (doubtful), then after this lawsuit, Oracle can do after each and every one of the vendors who embed Android in their devices and ask for whatever they wish: either complete ban on sales, or royalties, or compensation for lost damages etc.

      Unfortunately, in this case it is clear that both Google and ALL of the Android vendors are at fault... Google, because of their arrogance and the others, because they blindly believed Google that Android is "free" and they do not need to obtain commercial licenses to package it with their products.

      They already bent before Microsoft for other parts of Android. Now they will have to bend before Oracle because of Java. Not sure, many of those companies will be that enthusiastic about Android...
  • Hypocrites

    " Rubin said, asserting that there???s nothing ???hidden??? in the Android source code. "

    - They don't release the source until it's outdated. They are thieves lining up their pockets in the name of 'open source'
    • it's all there for anyone to see.. in 15 million lines of code... LOL...

      • Perhaps they should shorten the code to just 15 easy lines?

    • only the friends of FOSS have access to the latest code

      freeloaders and evil lawyers need not apply.
      The Linux Geek
    • Only One Version Delayed Release of the Source

      Only Android 3 delayed release of the source code. Every other version was released when the binary version was released, including 4, which is out now.
      • True but...

        Owlnet is here to attempt trolling and not much else.
      • Is this open source?

        This is not how open source works, in fact.