Oracle counsel quizzes Google's Rubin about Java emails

Oracle counsel quizzes Google's Rubin about Java emails

Summary: The founder and father of Android, Andy Rubin, was finally called to the stand in the Oracle v. Google trial to testify about licensing discussions regarding Java.


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.

See also: CNETOracle and Google continue sparring over APIs Android chief Andy Rubin said java.lang APIs are copyrighted in 2006 email

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.


Topics: Google, Android, Mobile OS, Oracle, Software

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  • You only need the TCK in order to call your implementation "Java".

    All these email pre-date Sun's releasing of Java under GPL-v2: that happened on 13th November 2006.

    Google obviously abandoned its hope of passing the TCK when it couldn't negotiate a license with Sun. That is why Android uses Dalvik and not Java.
    • Google is squewered one way or another

      Unfortunately which ever way it turns its violated something, its best course of action maybe to pay for the TCK and turn Davlik into a J2ME certified runtime, its other couses of action are ugly.
      • Please explain how Google has violated its license for Harmony.

        Dalvik has an Apache 2.0 license because it is based on the Harmony code. Please explain how this license has been violated.

        Did you know that when Sun GPL'ed Java, a Sun developer went on record to say:

        [quote]But I think therell be lots of forks, and I approve. I suspect that basement hackers and university CompSci departments and other unexpected parties will take the Java source, hack groovy improvements into it, compile it, and want to give it to the world. Theyll discover that getting their creation blessed as Java requires running the TCK/trademark gauntlet, which isnt groovy at all. So theyll think of a clever name for it and publish anyhow.

        Which is terrific. I see no downside, and I see huge upside in that the Java mainstream can watch this kind of stuff and (because of the GPL) adopt it if its good, and make things better for everybody.[/quote]
        Amazing stuff...
    • The problem with this 2006' GPLv2 license is that Java still requied ...

      ... licensing. This is why there are electronic mails between Google bosses about this issue that are long after Novermber of 2006.
  • Eric Schmidt and the pirate gang.

    Google, admit it, you ripped off Java. Now Pay damages , license it and move on. Don't try to pretend you created android, its a Java rip-off. Everybody knows it.
    • you must be working for Oracle

      Google is 10X more innovative than Oracle.
      The Linux Geek
    • Facts?

      Oh, you forgot them AGAIN. Tsk, tsk.

      BTW, reverse engineering is LEGAL in the USA. Your attempt to troll was written on the product of reverse engineering.
    • Java

      • So why change the license?

        If its open sourced completely why isn't Davlik GPL'd? (the license parts of java were open sourced under)
      • FACT: Only Java SE is GPL

        JavaME is NOT.

        Guess which one Google violates?
      • Please explain how Dalvik violates JavaME.

        Does Dalvik contain any JavaME code? If so, then where?
  • oracle is trying to fabricate infringement theories

    Dalvik is not Java, so no TCK or IP is needed for Google's products.
    The Linux Geek
    • Google has infringed

      but it depends which way google want to spin it
      • it did not

        because java is free and open.
        The Linux Geek
  • Will be interesting to see if rubin squirms around until he's lost all his

    integrity the way page did last week. His post google career will hinge on what he says tomorrow. If he doesnt step up to preserve some of it no one will want to associate with him on future ventures.
    Johnny Vegas
  • He was better than Page...

    It will be interesting to see Eric Schmidt on stage. This seems like something he'd be good at.