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A former Google Inc. (GOOG) engineer who played a key role developing the Android mobile phone software--now under legal fire from Oracle Corp. (ORCL)--testified that he removed some elements of Sun's Java technology after litigation had begun.
Oracle bought Sun in early 2010 and sued Google roughly eight months later. The Redwood Shores, Calif., business software giant alleges Google copied portions of Java and that Android therefore infringes copyrights and patents that protect the technology.
Wednesday, the former Google engineer, Dan Bornstein, said he removed some elements of Java from Android last year after Oracle had filed its lawsuit.
Those elements had come into Android via a Swiss contractor called Noser Engineering AG, Bornstein said. Noser had been advised by Google about what it could and couldn't use when contributing to Android, he added.
"Android is a living project" that constantly changes, Bornstein explained.
Google has argued it only used some key elements of Java in Android that are available to the public and didn't require licensing. Oracle has claimed it's owed roughly $1 billion in damages as a result of Google's alleged infringement and could seek an injunction blocking the sale of Android-based devices.
The case went to trial in San Francisco last week and is expected to last about two months. Google is presenting its side of the copyright portion of the trial, which will give way to the patent portion next week.
Also testifying Wednesday was Google's executive in charge of Android, Andy Rubin, who reiterated past statements that he didn't believe Google required a license from Sun to use the elements of Java it did to develop Android.
Rubin said his start-up Android Inc. boasted only about five engineers at the time it was acquired by Google in 2005. When the first version of Android software was released by Google in 2008, it had roughly 90 engineers working on it, a number that has since grown as Android has expanded to some 15 million lines of source code, Rubin said.
It is now the most popular smartphone operating system software in the world.
Oracle's attorney sought to portray Google as secretive about its alleged misuse of Java when it first built Android, which it expected to boost advertising revenue. When asked by Oracle's attorney if he had personally expected Android to greatly increase Google's overall revenue, Rubin responded, "No, I didn't."
Meanwhile, Bornstein--who left Google last year after having joined the company in 2005--said "there was a sense of urgency" as Google developed Android, which was unveiled in 2007. Apple Inc. (AAPL) had released its iPhone, a rival to Android devices, earlier that year.
Bornstein was presented an internal Google memo where he advised that for Android developers with Java experience it was "okay to use what's in your head," but not okay to copy code.
In order for anyone to successfully program software, "you have to have a certain amount of stuff in your head," Bornstein said.
Bornstein, who now works at closely-held The Obvious Corp., disclosed that he was being paid $400 per hour by Google for his time in court.
-By John Letzing, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-765-8230; email@example.com