Bloomberg News has reported a few days ago that Google Inc. is sparring with a law firm they’ve been using since 2008. This is after they discovered that the law firm had lawyers representing a patent-licensing business which sued their Android partners just last month.

According to Google, the law firm (Pepper Hamilton LLP) did not provide them any notice that they were hired by Digitude Innovations LLC. This same company filed patent-infringement complaints against several handset manufacturers, including Google’s Android partners Samsung Electronics Co. and HTC Corp. In a Jan. 27 request, Google said that Pepper Hamilton should be disqualified from the case. This request was given to the US International Trade Commission in Washington, where a complaint was filed.

“In short, Pepper Hamilton is accusing its own client of infringement,” Google said in the filing. “Pepper Hamilton should not be allowed to continue alleging infringement against the products and interests of its current client.”

Google accused Pepper Hamilton of disloyalty and said confidential information it shared created conflict of interest with the Digitude case. Since Google previously used the law firm to help them apply for Android mobile OS patents, it is no shock why Google felt betrayed.

“With so much patent litigation among technology companies, there is bound to be some overlap among lawyers.” said Scott Daniels, a Westerman Hattori Daniels in Washington partner said. “Conflicts are hard on law firms.

“You don’t want to anger your clients,” he added.

When asked about comment on the issue, Pepper Hamilton lawyers did not return any telephone messages. But on their website, they claim that they have around 500 lawyers.

Christine Torralba
Christine Torralba has been a freelance writer for the past couple of years. While most of her work has been ghostwritten, she has also contributed articles to magazines such as SPARK, Monday, Vault and Epic. In her spare time, she cooks, takes photos of food, and manages to write about it on her food blog.