Google: “Core Android” Not Impacted By Apple-Samsung Verdict

Will Apple’s sweeping, yet still preliminary, patent victory over Samsung have a positive or negative impact on Android? Will it have any impact at all? Will it be the death of competition or a boon for competition? Opinions are all over the place.

Over the weekend Google issued a statement (via TheVerge) that the decision will have no impact on “core Android” features or capabilities:

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 US 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.

As I wrote over the weekend, I agree and don’t think this verdict will have a significant, near-term impact on Android. The patents in question were relatively specific and covered only a few areas of functionality. Yet Google and its partners will still probably make some changes to steer clear of Apple as a result.

There is also ongoing litigation between Motorola (Google) and Apple and Apple and Samsung that could represent the sequel to Friday’s verdict. These other legal actions (as well as any future actions Apple may be contemplating now) are wild cards.

In addition, if Apple succeeds in getting a permanent injunction against some of Samsung’s products that may represent another shock to the Android ecosystem.

Rather than a negative for consumers I would argue that in the long run the verdict probably is a good thing for consumer choice. That’s because Apple’s competitors, including Google-Android, will be compelled to create different and new user experiences. That may seem counter-intuitive but a Samsung victory would have promoted continued mimicry.

Right now, however, it’s difficult to predict how all the legal actions will play out because they haven’t all run their course. Regardless, I don’t believe that Friday’s verdict represents a fundamental threat to Android.

Postscript: According to a filing today (posted [.pdf] by TheVerge) Apple has indicated which Samsung products that it will seek to ban in the US:

Apple must prove all of the following to succeed in obtaining a permanent inuction against these products:

  1. that it has suffered an irreparable injury;
  2. that remedies available at law, such as monetary damages, are inadequate to compensate for that injury;
  3. that, considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and the defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; and
  4. that the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction

It was previously the case that a permanent injunction was almost automatic upon a successful showing of patent validity and infringement. However that changed after a 2006 US Supreme Court case called eBay Incorporated v. MercExchange L.L.C.

That case placed a burden on successful litigants to meet the four-factor test above before the offending products could be “taken off the shelves.”

Related Topics: Apple: iOS | Channel: Industry | Google: Android | Google: Business Issues | Google: Legal | Legal: Patents | Top News


About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • Michael Gray

    So umm if Google doesn’t have anything to worry about why did they feel it was necessary to provide monetary and legal support to Samsung #captainobvious

  • Greg Sterling

    Public statements and private sentiments are two different things

  • Greg Sterling

    In my other article I mention notifications as something iOS has taken from Android. However it’s pretty clear that most of the Android OEMs started by ape-ing the iPhone. Now things may be diverging. This decision will force more of that “innovation”

  • Jeff Kean

    “Rather than a negative for consumers I would argue that in the long run
    the verdict probably is a good thing for consumer choice”

    WOW I don’t even know where to start.

    Mimicry? Shouldn’t then Apple be sued for making an iphone, cause you know my UTC Starcom had rounded edges and a smartphone os long before an Iphone even existed.

    Someone has be brain-formatted by apple

  • Jeff Kean

    umm maybe cause any smart company would love to get a look
    at the legal strategy that will inevitably be brought against them.

  • Greg Sterling

    Is the implied argument that software patents should be eliminated?

  • Greg Sterling

    I also had a UTC Starcom WinMo handset that looked nothing at all like the iPhone.

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  • Jeff Kean

    did it have rounded corners or didn’t it? Did it have bluetooth, infrared, contacts, sms, camera, email, ringtones. The implied argument is that Apple should not be able to sue a company for “copying” when they themselves did the EXACT same thing.

    Software patents should be good for 1 or 2 years, period, IMO.

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