Google Says Most Claims in Samsung Case Not About Android
Google Inc. (GOOG), responding to a jury verdict that found its partner Samsung Electronics Co. infringed Apple Inc. (AAPL) patents, said most of the claims “don’t relate to the core Android” software used in mobile devices.
“The court of appeals will review both infringement and the validity of the patent claims,” Mountain View, California- based Google said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. “Most of these don’t relate to the core Android operating system, and several are being re-examined by the U.S. Patent Office.”
Google, owner of the world’s largest Web search engine, lets mobile-phone manufacturers weave its Android operating system into their handsets at no charge. It suffered a setback on Aug. 24, when a California jury said Samsung, the biggest user of Android, infringed Apple patents.
“This verdict is a major victory for Apple vis a vis the Android ecosystem,” said Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., in a research report today. “That said, we don’t think it is a game-changing loss for Android.”
The ruling is “likely to embolden Apple’s legal strategy,” Sacconaghi said. Litigation playing out in several countries may ultimately lead to Android phone makers paying royalties to Apple of $3 to $25 per handset or “forced work- arounds on violated patents, some of which could modestly change the look and feel of competing products.”
In a court filing today, Apple sought a ban on eight models of Samsung’s smartphones, including several of its Galaxy S devices.
Android’s share among smartphone platforms rose to 64 percent in the second quarter from 43 percent in the same period a year earlier, according to Stamford, Connecticut-based researcher Gartner Inc. Apple’s software had a 19 percent share, up less than a percent from the previous year.
“The mobile industry is moving fast and all players -- including newcomers -- are building upon ideas that have been around for decades,” Google said in the statement. “We work with our partners to give consumers innovative and affordable products, and we don’t want anything to limit that.”
More than 400 million Android devices have been activated worldwide, Susan Wojcicki, a senior vice president at Google, said on a call with analysts last month. More than 1 million are turned on daily, with manufacturing partners that include Taiwan’s HTC Corp. and South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc.
Google acquired Motorola Mobility Holdings, another Android partner, in May for about $12.5 billion. The deal bolstered Google’s intellectual property with more than 17,000 patents and was seen as way to help protect against legal challenges to Android.
Samsung is easily the largest Android smartphone maker with more than half the market, and the court decision could put “more pressure on Google” to boost Motorola’s share, Douglas Anmuth, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co., wrote in a research note.
“In some ways, closer enforcement of existing patents could spur greater innovation within Android,” Anmuth wrote. “The ruling may also call into question the patents Google acquired from Motorola and their ability to help protect the Android ecosystem going forward.”
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