updated 06:05 pm EDT, Mon April 23, 2012
Rubin hints Google had few choices on Android
Google's mobile VP Andy Rubin gave testimony on Monday in Oracle's lawsuit that Java was likely copyrighted, raising the possibility Google owed royalties for Android. He wouldn't link the copyrighting to Sun, but he agreed with an Oracle attorney that a 2006 e-mail had said the java.lang app programming language (APIs) "were copyrighted," according to CNET's account of the conversation. Rubin did acknowledge a statement earlier that same day that he didn't think Google could go ahead without permission from Sun.
However, the executive thought Oracle was overreaching when it interpreted July 2005 comments on starting Android development as a sign it would inevitably run into trouble with using Java in the platform. Rubin had said that a "clean room" version of Java's virtual machine, or one which didn't directly draw on original Java code, was unlikely. In testimony, however, he added that the company hadn't actually decided on whether or not it would go that route or use existing code and talk to Sun about a deal.
While Rubin was clear that he didn't need a license for general programming, the responses come after attempts by Google engineer Tim Lindholm to deny talk about licensing trouble and create a difficult situation for Google. Although the trial for Oracle's lawsuit against Google is divided into three phases, the seemingly damaging statements could see it already facing damages owed to Oracle before the patents and general damages segments are complete.
Oracle has been pressing to have Google face a possible ban that would stop Android until it agreed to whatever terms the court deemed necessary. Google has succeeded in having the penalty reduced from the billions to the tens of millions, but may still face stiff costs to keep Android on the market.
The defending company's argument to date has been that Java's programming languages are free to use for those parts it uses in Android.