Google will help Samsung pay some fees in Apple lawsuit

April 22, 2014
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During testimony Tuesday a Google lawyer admitted that Google agreed to help defend Samsung against Apple in relation to certain patents involved in the ongoing lawsuit.

According to Re/code Google lawyer James Maccoun said during testimony that Google will offer full or partial indemnity in relation to four patents involved in the case. So, if Samsung has to pay for infringing those patents Google will pay at least part of the associated fees.

While Google agreed to help with four patents involved in the suit, only two of those patents remain active in the case: patents ‘414 and ‘959 which deal with background synchronization and universal search, respectively.

Google is obligated to help Samsung through the “Mobile Application Distribution Agreement” which lets Samsung include Google apps such as Gmail and the Play Store on its devices. Because of that agreement, it’s probable that Google is only helping Samsung when the aforementioned patents apply to Google apps like Gmail and the Search app. Google likely isn’t involved in the aspects of the case which apply more to the open source aspects of Android as Samsung is allowed to change that code as it sees fit.

Manufacturers aren’t allowed to change the code of Google apps, so if the patents apply to those apps it only makes sense that Google helps those manufacturers with any defense and indemnity.

While there is an argument to be made that Apple could cut out the middleman and sue Google over those patents directly, current patent law lets companies sue manufacturers who use software that infringe patents, even if they didn’t create that software. That plus the fact that Samsung makes money directly from Android devices make it the target of Apple’s lawsuits.

This isn’t the first time Google has gotten involved in court cases involving Android manufacturers. The company recently involved itself in the lawsuits between HTC and Nokia to be more involved with those patent disputes.

If the court rules in favor of Apple in the case Samsung could have to pay up to $2 billion in fees. Samsung, of course, argues that it doesn’t infringe on Apple’s patents, and that Apple’s patents aren’t even valid. Samsung also argued that, if it is found to have infringed the patents, it shouldn’t have to pay nearly the sum Apple is asking for.

Do you think Google should be doing more to help manufacturers in patent lawsuits, or is its current involvement good enough?

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