Google says Apple-Samsung decision isn't related to core Android

Jury's $1 billion award to Apple shouldn't blunt Android innovation, Google says in statement

The jury's decision Friday in the landmark Samsung-Apple patent battle doesn't relate to the core of the Android mobile operating system, Google said in a brief statement Monday.

The jury ordered that Samsung pay Apple $1.05 billion for infringing on several Apple patents in Samsung Android-based smartphones and tablets.

As the creator of Android, Google said that it doesn't want anything to limit the creation of innovative and affordable products. However, it's statement didn't elaborate on whether or how Google plans to prevent company's from limiting development of Android-based devices.

Google's reaction could be seen as a statement showing the company's willingness to fight Apple in legal circles, at least indirectly, by financially helping Android manufacturing partners defend themselves against patent attacks by the iPhone maker, some analysts said.

Google didn't say whether it's considering taking legal action against Apple, although it is expected to carefully follow Samsung's appeal of last week's decision.

In its statement today, Google also sought to minimize the impact of the decision, noting that the mobile industry moves fast and is constantly building on ideas that have been around for decades.

Google has not yet been directly involved in Android-related patent disputes against Android manufacturers or in countersuits against Apple.

There have been more than 50 patent lawsuits filed by both Samsung and Apple in 10 countries.

In full, the brief statement from Google reads:

"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."

Patent analyst Florian Mueller, who writes the Fosspatents blog, said Monday that based on Friday's verdict, Google is "apparently unable to protect Android."

Several analysts said that Friday's decision relates to older Samsung products and predicted that a high level of Android innovation will continue.

Si Young Lee, an analyst at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, called the decision "more of a short-term hiccup to Android."

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said the Apple v. Samsung case did not appear directly related to Android. "If Apple were to sue Google for Android, it would have a much more difficult case to prove that Google slavishly copied or infringed," he said.

Mueller disagreed with both Google and Gold, however. "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," Mueller said in an email.

Because Google doesn't provide all the multi-touch functions many Android users want, device makers like Samsung are forced to build multi-touch functions to stay competitive.

Mueller contends that Google has taken a "cowardly approach" that exposes Samsung and other hardware partners to patent suits. "It's one thing to shift a problem to someone else and another to actually solve it," he said.

Mueller believes that the jury's verdict gives Apple "momentum against Android in general."

Google's statement today "isn't reassuring" about bringing "patent peace for Android."

Google wouldn't comment on Mueller's criticism. Mueller said he provides consulting services to both Microsoft and Oracle, but not to Samsung or Apple.

Apple's success in defending its patents could find different results in other countries.

Some experts note that U.S. Patent Office patents are sometimes granted prematurely and later found to be invalid as has occurred with some Apple patents in the UK and Germany.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile/wireless in Computerworld's Mobile/Wireless Topic Center.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld (US)
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