A potentially embarrassing e-mail between Google (NSDQ: GOOG) engineers will most likely be fair game at the trial between Oracle and Google over patent infringement in Android following a judge’s ruling Thursday. The e-mail, which Google has worked hard to erase from the public record, suggests that Google obtain a license to Oracle’s Java technology rather than plunging ahead without one.
Oracle and Google are locked in one of the few mobile patent lawsuits that directly targets the creator of Android, and Google has not had much luck prevailing on this particular issue, which involves an e-mail from Android engineer Tim Lindholm to Andy Rubin, the head of the Android project. Lindholm tells Rubin that “we conclude that we need to negotiate a license for Java under the terms we need,” and Google has argued that the potentially damaging e-mail should not be aired at trial because it was inadvertently disclosed and should have received attorney-client privileges.
Judge William Alsup, who is presiding over the case, didn’t buy that argument, and another judge tasked with arbitrating disputes over discovery items has now agreed. Judge Donna Ryu denied Google’s motion Thursday, saying she would explain her reasoning in a later court filing but ordering Google to turn over the e-mail to Oracle.
As we argued earlier, this whole saga may not be that big a deal: Lindholm’s e-mail was written after Oracle had already threatened Google over its use of Java, and providing advice that one’s organization should license a technology after being served with legal threats is not that controversial a notion. But it’s still something that Oracle will love to have at its disposal, and could make life a little more difficult for Google engineers and lawyers.