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The Google Inc. (GOOG) executive in charge of its Android mobile phone software at the heart of the company's dispute with Oracle Corp. (ORCL) was confronted Monday by a series of internal emails he wrote years earlier cautioning the search company against an "uncharacteristically" aggressive use of outside intellectual property to develop the technology.
Andy Rubin, Google's senior vice president of mobile, was shown during his testimony at a trial in San Francisco a series of emails he wrote about six years ago advising others at Google that the company should buy the right to use Sun Microsystems' Java technology in Android.
Oracle, which acquired Sun in 2010, has sued Google for allegedly infringing patents and copyrights with Android that protect Java.
An Oracle attorney pressed Rubin on statements he had made in his emails, including doubts that Google could safely and legitimately develop its own version of Java for Android without paying Sun for the privilege--as others in the technology industry have.
"It would be uncharacteristically aggressive for us to position ourselves against the industry," Rubin wrote in a 2005 email presented Monday.
Google released Android in 2008, and it has since become widely used among mobile device makers. Oracle argues that Google simply opted to use Java without properly obtaining the legal right to do so.
Earlier in the day, attorneys for both companies jostled over a document showing that Rubin's former company, mobile phone start-up Danger Inc., had purchased a Java license from Sun.
Oracle's counsel argued the document makes clear Oracle didn't invent the notion that Sun required licensing for Java's specifications after Oracle bought Sun, as Google has suggested--and implied Google, too, has known it required such a license.
Google countered that allowing the document into evidence would be too confusing for the jury. Judge William Alsup sided with Oracle, however.
Rubin left Danger and started Android Inc., which was later acquired by Google in 2005 to form the basis of its mobile phone software.
The second week of the trial in San Francisco had begun with Judge Alsup remarking it seemed Google was admitting to copying the Java specifications at issue.
"I quibble with the word copy," a Google attorney countered, adding that while Google acknowledges it "used" portions of Java, they are not portions that should be protected by copyright.
The initial, copyright portion of the trial is expected to conclude next week, though the entire trial including a portion devoted to patents may last about two months.
-By John Letzing, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-765-8230; firstname.lastname@example.org