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The Google Inc. (GOOG) employee who wrote an email that Oracle Corp. (ORCL) said bolsters their infringement case against the Internet giant testified Thursday that the internal memo was misinterpreted.
During brief but tense testimony during the companies' trial in San Francisco, Google engineer Tim Lindholm said he didn't mean in his internal email that Google should purchase a license from Sun Microsystems or Oracle to use Sun's Java technology in Google's Android mobile phone software.
Oracle, which purchased Sun in early 2010, alleges that Android infringes on patents and copyrights associated with Java.
In Lindholm's email, which Oracle has focused on during the litigation, he writes that he was asked by Google's co-founders to find a technical alternative to Java for Android. But the email, written in August 2010, goes on to say that no good alternatives exist and that Google should obtain a license for Java.
Asked by Oracle's attorney if he meant in the email that Google needed to get a license from Sun specifically, Lindholm replied, "That is not what I meant."
Pressed on whether he had meant Google should have gotten a license from another company, Lindholm said: "It was not specifically a license from anybody."
When Google's counsel took over questioning after roughly 15 minutes of testimony, Lindholm smiled and remarked that, "It's been a long day already."
The Google engineer, who was a Sun employee until 2005 and was among the original developers of Java in the 1990s, went on to say that he actually has had little to do with Android. Instead, he has been focused on the operation of Google's many data centers.
However, Lindholm said that because of his background with Java and Sun, at a certain point he was involved in Java licensing and partnership negotiations between Google and Sun. Those talks didn't result in either a licensing agreement or a partnership.
Lindholm did note that at one point he was told by superiors at Google to "take a month" and find something new to work on, and he decided that Android was "a cool new project" that might be interesting. But ultimately his involvement with Android was limited to the period in which he worked on Google's Java negotiations with Sun.
-By John Letzing, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-765-8230; firstname.lastname@example.org