Google’s Android chief Andy Rubin appears to have conceded a key point in the Oracle-Google lawsuit today.Under oath, he seemed to admit that he once thought Google needed a licence from Sun to use Java technology in Android, and that the Java APIs are copyrighted, as reported by CNET and ZDNet.
That’s exactly what Oracle is arguing in its lawsuit.
Rubin faced tough questioning from Oracle lawyer David Boies, who led the government’s antitrust case against Microsoft in the 1990s.
In one email, Rubin wrote to a Google engineering manager, “I don’t see how you can open Java without Sun, since they own the brand and IP [intellectual property].”
When Boies questioned him if that meant he thought Google needed a licence from Sun, Rubin answered “Yes, that’s correct,” reports CNET.
Boies later tried to dig into an email that Rubin wrote saying a “cleanroom version of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) would be unlikely because of the Android team’s prior knowledge of Java.”
In plain English, that means that the Android team already knew so much about Java — several members had previously worked for Sun — that Google couldn’t reverse-engineer it in a way that didn’t violate Sun’s IP.
Rubin refused to go into much detail on this part, saying “I think that’s reading a lot into that small sentence.”
In the end, most of this testimony probably won’t affect the final outcome of this lawsuit. The case will be decided on matters of law, rather than what Rubin thought he needed to do back in 2005 and 2006.
But it makes Android look slimy, like Google knew it might face intellectual property problems way back when it started building Android, but forged ahead anyway.
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