On Halloween, a Legion of Doom of tech giants was assembled as rivals Microsoft, Apple, and Sony teamed up with Ericsson and BlackBerry to dole out lawsuits against companies with products associated with Android.
Samsung, HTC, LG, Huawei, Asustek, and ZTE are all in the crosshairs of this group. The main target is Google, who has been mentioned once by name. The argument in the direct mention is that Adwords, which generates most of the company’s money, is in violation of a 15-year old patent.
There was definitely some digging to find something that might stick. It’s similar to overturning a championship title change because some really obscure rule—that is still on the books—was violated and is called up at that exact moment whereas calling it earlier wouldn’t look like reaching.
Marketshare reports detail that the Android smartphone OS holds a firm 81% of the pie. In addition to that, Google Play store has reeled in 25% more downloads than the App Store.
Basically Apple, Blackberry, Microsoft, Sony, and Ericsson want to weaken that tight grip and rapid momentum Google has. The best way to do that is to take out Google’s partners, the ones using the OS—or at least get some of them to either bail on Android or use their OS. If they have to pay out a significant amount on settlements Android OS might look like more trouble than it’s worth.
Of course that’s assuming that the settlement is actually significant enough to get the companies to back away from Android and Google—which is unlikely given the share it has. Plus these settlements are usually whittled down significantly after sitting on the books for some time.
In that time HTC, Samsung, LG, Huawei, ZTE, and Asustek would’ve released more devices with Android OS and the nefarious Android Gang would get more profits, more units moved, and more Android OS versions. This would leave Microsoft, Apple, and Co. to wring their hands menacingly in the Hall of Doom.
This current barrage of lawsuits comes from $4.5 billion in some 6,000 patents that Apple, Microsoft, and Co. got from the defunct Nortel in 2011. The winning alliance was christened Rockstar Bidco. Google was actually the first bidder on Nortel’s goods with $900 million, but failed at $4.4 billion with Rockstar Bidco winning the portfolio at $4.5 billion.
The Adwords-oriented suit claims that US Patent No. 6,098,065—which was won by Nortel—was for “matching search terms with relevant advertising.” It targets Google’s search system, the Treasure Galleon of the company’s finances which allows it to flex in other arenas easily.
So what the suit says is that Google dismissively waved off the notion that Microsoft, Apple, and Co. won and went about infringing anyways. Google was formed in September 1998 and got their patent that December.
Despite losing in its attempt to acquire the patents-in-suit at auction, Google has infringed and continues to infringe the patents-in-suit.
Samsung’s suit is another infringement case. They’re no stranger to dealing with Apple as they always have a standing suit with them.
The specifics state that some seven patents are infringed upon. Two of them are US Patent No. 5,838,551—the vaguely titled “Electronic Package Carrying an Electronic Component and Assembly of Mother Board and Electronic Package”. The other is the specific US Patent No. 6,765,591 which covers virtual private network and user interface, basically.
The seven patents are spread out across 118 claims. Apple wants Samsung to be found guilty of infringement and have to pay damages and triple damages for intentionally infringing on their patents. Apple also wants a “compulsory ongoing licensing fee” or a permanent injunction. The main culprit of infringement is the Galaxy line of devices.
The outcome of this legal battle could see Android tacked with fees meaning it won’t be free anymore, Rockstar Bidco doesn’t get the full amount they are seeking (which is the most likely), or Google and the other companies tying up the legal lines for a year or more with appeals before the courts find that they did nothing wrong…which would result in an appeal to that appeal.
This will definitely be the marquee technology legal battle with high stakes for Google’s Android OS and the companies they partner with.