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Google breaks silence on the Apple vs Samsung lawsuit

by Mark Tyson on 28 August 2012, 13:00

Tags: iPhone, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Samsung (005935.KS), Motorola (NYSE:MSI)

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The jury’s decision late last week in the AppSung patent battle doesn’t relate to the core Android mobile OS according to a brief statement from Google. Samsung has been ordered to pay $1.05 billion for wilful patent infringements made by its products, namely Android powered touch screen smartphones. The US court did find Android interface elements were copied from Apple’s iOS so Google is clearly implied to have some guilt by that judgement.

Here’s Google’s short statement in full;

“The court of appeals will review both infringement and the validity of the patent claims. Most of these don’t relate to the core Android operating system, and several are being re-examined by the U.S. Patent Office. The mobile industry is moving fast and all players - including newcomers - are building upon ideas that have been around for decades. We work with our partners to give consumers innovative and affordable products, and we don’t want anything to limit that”

Kara Swisher from AllThingsDigital translates the Google statement from legalese to English like this; “Good lord, let’s hope Samsung wins on appeal, because if Apple prevails, it might be coming for us next. We hope our massive patent-buying splurge in mobile will protect us, but the there-is-nothing-new-under-the-sun defence is our fallback position.”

It is true that a lot of the ideas that make up the form and function of modern smartphones have been around for decades. The biggest problem is; will courts in the US agree with that? Before the conclusion of the AppSung case in the US, Google filed a lawsuit against Apple, brandishing its Motorola patents and perhaps thinking that attack is the best form of defence. Google alleged seven patent infringements by Apple including some of the technology behind Siri. If Google wins this case Apple’s iPhones could be banned from the USA.

Analysts say “what if?”

Speaking to Computerworld Jack Gold, of J. Gold Associates said “If Apple were to sue Google for Android, it would have a much more difficult case to prove that Google slavishly copied or infringed.” A patents analyst, Florian Mueller, of Fosspatents blog holds the opposite point of view, he said in an email “While it's true that Google is not responsible for Samsung's design patent infringement, the three software patents that were deemed valid and infringed [upon] really are an Android issue”.  Furthermore Mueller called Google’s approach “cowardly” leaving an important hardware partner like Samsung exposed.

Speaking to the BBC Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group saw an opportunity ahead for Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 8 devices. He said “[It should] provide a stronger opportunity for both of Microsoft's new platforms - Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 - because they come with indemnification against Apple, suddenly making them far safer.” Also he thinks Android will be changed, not for greater usability, but simply to be different to Apple’s iOS, something which is never good for end users “I think this will force a reset on Android products as they are re-engineered to get around Apple's patents”

Shares driven up and down by legal battles

As Samsung’s shares plunged 7.5 per cent on Monday, Nokia’s soared 7.7 per cent, as if the two companies were sitting on some huge financial see-saw. Apple shares rose 1.9 per cent and Microsoft also gained a smidgeon. Sitting on the Samsung side of the fence Google was down 1.4 per cent.

HEXUS Forums :: 19 Comments

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Much as I hate to agree with Florian Muller (Microsoft shill par excellance) in this case he's got a point - if Microsoft can give a no-sue guarantee for WinPhone, then perhaps Google should too.

On the other hand I don't agree with Rob Enderle - sure Apple and Microsoft signed a deal on WindowsPhone (although some reports I read said it was only WP7), but that's not a free pass. If someone with a WP device, (Nokia?), starts to eat into Apple's market share the way that Android has, then you can be very sure that the Apple legal team will swing into action. So, I suspect that WP makers aren't being sued because they're no threat at the moment - quite the contrary, they're useful as a “example” that Apple's not merely trying to monopolize the market.

Interesting to see that the Google legal moves have gone up to the ITC, rather than some “hick” US court. Also be interesting to hear whatever happened about that Samsung counter-suit against Apple (over non-licensed use of Samsung technology), since that seemed to be a much more open-and-shut case than the one Apple just won.

Can't help thinking though that this is a sad, and actually ridiculous, state of affairs to be in.
Even if Google issued a “non-sue guarantee” for Android, this would not have saved Samsung, it was their own UI elements that caused the problem, not stock Android. That's why Apple was suing Samsung, not Google.

If there was an issue with WP7, it would be Microsoft feeling the heat, not Nokia, as there isn't the level of customisation with WP as there is with Android.
Apple “Don't innovate, Litigate!”
Much as I hate to agree with Florian Muller (Microsoft and Oracle shill par excellance)…..

Fixed for you! ;) Oracle has had to admit he is one of their paid bloggers.
Apple's petulant and offensive legal team are a truly disgusting breed of individuals, unrestrained by their senior management like unruly toddlers of parents who find their offsprings' unadulterated greed and antisocial behaviour endearing.

If only there were some way to express the rage I feel at this greedy abomination of a corporation, I would. :/

In the interim, I shall be buying Samsung products where possible, and continuing to tell everyone I know about my experiences with Apple hardware, which have been diabolical at best. Thankfully I haven't spend any of my own money on Apple - I shall be trying to offload my work machines and replace with decent hardware running a proper OS as and when I can.