The Apple-Samsung verdict has sparked speculation on as to what Apple’s victory means for Google and its popular OS, Android. Samsung might be the smartphone manufacturer that ended up paying the price for ‘patent infringement’ but as far as Apple is concerned, the problem began with Google and Android.
With Apple winning decisively, the bigger worry for Google could be around the question of essential patents, a point where Samsung failed to prove infringement on part of Apple.
In the trial, Samsung had also counter-sued Apple stating that the Cupertino-based tech giant infringed on several of Samsung’s patents some of which are essential to its devices, such as standard wireless technology.
But the jury disagreed and said Apple’s use of those technologies in the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, iPad 2 and iPod Touch, didn’t qualify as infringement. Nor were they seen as standard essential patents. Basically Apple won big and the essential patent argument failed.
According to this analysis piece in Reuters by Alison Frankel, Essential patents are adopted by the bodies that set international standards for developing technology. Everyone has to use them, which is why holders of standard-essential patents must agree to license their intellectual property on fair and non-discriminatory terms.
So how does the essential patents bit worry Google? As the Reuters report mentions, Google’s $12.5 bn acquisition of Motorola Mobility also meant a fair share of patents for the search-engine giant. Google would have hoped for licensing deals on these patents, some of which are essential patents. But now, following the judgement it’s doubtful that these patents will help Google protect Android.
According to this LA Times report, the value of these Motorola patents is still debatable. It quotes analyst Roger Entner as saying,
“The Motorola patents are valuable on the basic technology front, not the design front. Motorola was a notoriously weak software developer and a lot of the patents that Apple has cited are exactly in that weak spot,” he said. “Samsung claimed Apple infringed on technological patents of Samsung and lost on those counts. I don’t think the Motorola patents will help Google a lot.”
Overall it looks like Google’s Motorola acquisition won’t help it win the patent war, which is likely to become more complicated as smartphone technology evolves.