Tech Industry

Oracle recalls Google engineer in trial's patent phase

Oracle cuts to the chase in the second part of the trial, recalling Tim Lindholm, who has turned out to be a prominent figure in this case.

SAN FRANCISCO--After previously testifying in the copyrights phase of Oracle v. Google in April, Google engineer Tim Lindholm was recalled to the stand at the U.S. District Court of Northern California here this morning as Oracle's first witness in phase two of the trial covering patent infringement.

Tim Lindholm
Tim Lindholm, shown here en route to the courthouse during the first phase of the trial a few weeks ago, was called back to the stand for phase two. James Martin/CNET

Representing Oracle, Fred Norton of Boies, Schiller & Flexner repeatedly asked Lindholm questions along the lines of whether he was the only person responsible for work on Java virtual machines and related innovations, following up with the implication that Lindholm certainly couldn't have been the only one. Lindholm always concurred that he wasn't the only one.

Lindholm also confirmed that Google Senior Vice President Andy Rubin recruited him to work as an Android project adviser in 2005.

It was unclear at first where Oracle's counsel was going with this train of thought. Yet Norton then proceeded to cite several other former Sun engineers who worked on Java virtual machines who later worked at Google.

Norton also did his best to skirt around an e-mail exchange involving Lindholm and Rubin that played a large role in the first phase of the trial but has been since banned by Judge William Alsup, who once commented that Oracle had "beaten that to death."

Nevertheless, it seemed to be a case where Oracle has plenty more where that came from. Norton managed to call up several more e-mail threads.

Starting with an e-mail from August 2005, Norton highlighted one in which Lindholm responded to Rubin that he was interested in working on Android, commenting "sign me up."

Norton followed up with another e-mail from November 2005 with the title "Another thought on Sun motivation." In that exchange, Lindholm wrote about different implementations. Rubin replied with the note, "our guys implementing that later, for the isolation and resource management arguments."

Lindholm responded in that thread, "We need to make sure that whatever license Sun proposes still allows you to do that."

Norton wanted to know if Rubin was referring to the implementation of a Java virtual machine, but Lindholm couldn't exactly confirm.

Norton later pointedly asked Lindholm if he had participated in a meeting with other Google employees about Java lawsuits and what to do about them.

"I don't remember such a meeting," Lindholm replied.

Norton attempted to follow up his question by admitting another e-mail into evidence to prove Lindholm was contradicting his testimony, to which Google objected.

Alsup debated whether to admit it into evidence, but Lindholm was instructed to read his responses aloud. In one of the threads, Lindholm had written that he agreed to go to a meeting. But on the stand, Lindholm said he wasn't sure if he attended.

Nevertheless, also during a very brief round of cross-examination, Lindholm asserted that he hasn't been a part of any design work on Android, including the Dalvik virtual machine.

Since starting at Google in July 2005, Lindholm further explained that his personal work has not had anything to do with Java, and that he has only written "a few lines" of Java code in the last seven years.

However, this probably won't be the last we'll see of Lindholm, who has turned out to be a prominent figure in this case.

Oracle lawyers have placed Lindholm on recall in case they need him in phase three of the trial, which would cover damages. That phase is still up in the air while Google tries to make a case for a mistrial for phase one.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet's Between the Lines under the headline "Oracle recalls Google engineer Lindholm in trial's patent phase."