Google's Tim Lindholm faces off with David Boies on Java license

Tim Lindholm said that he didn't mean that Google needed a license for Java in his 2010 email that said, "We conclude that we need to negotiate a license for Java under the terms we need."

Dan Farber
3 min read

David Boies, Oracle's lead lawyer in the Silicon Valley trial of titans, had a nice set-up for day four of the proceedings. On day three, Wednesday, Boies probed Google CEO Larry Page about his familiarity with Tim Lindholm, a software engineer working on the Android team who was involved in determining whether Google should acquire a license for Java.

Boies asked Page about a 2005 document stating, "Google/Android, with support from Tim Lindholm, negotiates the first OSS J2ME JVM license with Sun."  Lindholm had just joined Google from Sun.  

Boies asked Page if that "tim" in the 2005 e-mail referred to Tim Lindholm. Page replied, "I'm not sure which Tim it would be." Page maintained in his testimony Tuesday and Wednesday that he was not familiar with Lindholm, and simply knew of him.

Tim Lindhold on way to testify at the Google-Oracle trial. CNET/James Martin

Lindholm joined Google in 2005, and was no ordinary engineer. He had previously spent seven years at Sun as a Distinguish Engineer, and was a member of the original Sun Java team, the architect of the Java 2 Micro Edition platform and co-author of the Java Virtual Machine specification

It's unlikely that Page didn't know the "Tim," a Java and Android rock star, referenced in Boies' query.

On Thursday around high noon Pacific time, Lindholm took the stand and faced off with Boies. He first worked to establish that Lindholm was involved in Android soon after he came to Google from Sun. Lindholm maintained that he didn't recall much from a July 26, 2005 meeting with Android chief Andy Rubin regarding concerns about Sun distributing Java as open source. "I dont recall it having been discussed, but it may have been," he said.

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Emails from 2005 discuss Google getting a license from Sun or partnering on Android, but Lindholm doesn't have much recollection about the issue. "Tim" is listed as a recipient to emails, but he doesn't seem to be sure if he is the actual "Tim" copied on the emails. 

Boies got to the smoking gun email from August 6, 2010 email from Lindholm to Android head Andy Rubin stating the Larry Page and Sergey Brin asked him to investigate technical alternatives to Android and Chrome. 

"We've been over a bunch of these, and think they all suck. We conclude that we need to negotiate a license for Java under the terms we need," Lindholm wrote. 

Boies asked Lindholm whether the license in the document was from Sun. Lindholm said no.

Was it a license from some other company," Boies asked.  "No," Lindholm responded.

"Was it a license from anybody?," Boies asked.   

"It was not a license from anybody," Lindholm said.

"I have no further questions," Boies said, ending his examination.

Google's counsel, Christa Anderson, asked Lindholm what he did at Google. He said he worked on infrastructure, and played no substantial role in developing Android. The logical question would be why he would be the author of the email below regarding the need to negotiate for a Java license, which in his testimony he said wasn't what he meant. 

Oracle points to this e-mail as evidence Google knew it needed a license to Java for Android. Google maintained that the e-mail was written in the context of Oracle threatening to sue the company. Oracle

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