The Android situation is getting increasingly messy, thanks to unceasing litigious pressure from Apple and other tech giants.
Tech patent expert Florian Muller has been blogging up a storm over the weekend, having got his hands on some juicy, new court documents that reveal some of the developments in Apple's crusade against Android.
The most striking event was the decision by a German court to grant Apple an injunction against the newly-launched Galaxy Tab 7.7, which resulted in Samsung having to hastily remove the product - and associated marketing material - from the IFA show, where it was a headline feature.
This is very humiliating for Samsung. Several sites have before and after images of Samsung's stand at IFA. But the most illustrative were those grabbed by the German-language netbooknews, in which you can see Samsung having to either cover up or erase references to the Tab 7.7. Apple is starting to seriously inhibit Samsung's ability to market and sell Android mobile devices.
It will be little consolation to Samsung that it's not alone. It looks like Apple is increasingly getting the upper-hand in its dispute with HTC over Android too. Muller had a look at some fresh court documents concerning that case and it looks like the court has found some of HTC's tactics to be ‘disingenuous'.
Furthermore, in order to emphasise this point, Apple pointed out in a new filing with the ITC, that Android boss Andy Rubin began his career at Apple. "Android and Mr. Rubin's relevant background does not start, as HTC would like the Commission to believe, with his work at General Magic or Danger in the mid-1990s," said Apple, clearly inferring that, effectively, Android originated at Apple.
Apple goes on to concede that this fact is highlighted primarily to illustrate HTC's tactics, but the inference is remarkable. As Muller goes on to say, if Apple chooses to attack Google directly at any stage, the matter might become more serious. But if that does happen, it will raise the question of whether hypothetical inspiration derived from a job held decades ago can be deemed to constitute wilful patent infringement.
Lastly Rubin is feeling the head in the Oracle vs. Android case too. Rubin allegedly said in an email in October 2005, with respect to Java and Android: "If Sun doesn't want to work with us, we have two options: 1) Abandon our work and adopt MSFT CLR VM and C# language - or - 2) Do Java anyway and defend our decision, perhaps making enemies along the way". Google had acquired Android earlier that year.
This email, combined with another in which the prospect of licensing Java was mulled by another engineer, is thought to be of pivotal importance in Oracle's claim that Android wilfully infringed Java, and thus Oracle's patents since it acquired Sun. Wilful infringements are subject to far greater penalties than accidental ones, and Rubin is at very real risk of being found to wilfully infringe on two separate occasions.