We have been closely following the unfolding of the Apple and Samsung patent infringement case. Previously, we discussed how Apple is suing Samsung for $2 billion on the grounds that the latter infringed on Apple’s patents, such as slide-to-unlock, word correction, contextual links, universal search and data syncing. Samsung responded by calling to the stand a number of expert witnesses who claimed that many of Apple’s patented technologies were developed independently of Apple.
In addition, Samsung claims that most of the alleged acts of infringement are components of Android, the operating system developed by Google. However, U.S. patent law allows individuals and organizations to sue the maker of an end-product that contains an infringing feature even if they are not directly responsible for its development. It appears that Apple did not want to draw Google into the case because they were not directly profiting from the Android-based devices like Samsung was. As such, any settlement Apple reaches with Google will be miniscule compared to Samsung, because Google freely distributed Android.
Regardless, Google has joined the suit and agreed to take responsibility for two of Apple’s infringement claims: background sync and universal search. After signing the “Mobile Application Distribution Agreement,” in which Samsung agreed to populate its mobile devices with Google Apps, the latter was obligated to assume legal responsibility for those apps.
In email correspondence from 2012, Google agreed to “defend and indemnify” Samsung over the infringement. Google’s attorney defined indemnify as “a general term relating to providing defense against claims and then can mean other things depending on the outcome of litigation.” Google’s attorneys have not stated to what degree they will bear the financial burden of the case, which will likely come to an end soon, as closing arguments will be heard on April 28.
Infringement is a complicated legal matter for big and small businesses alike. The law firm of Robert G. Klein has been representing small to midsized businesses in the Los Angeles area since 1994. If you have any questions about patent infringement or any other area of intellectual property litigation, reach out to us.
[Did You Know: Google signed a Mobile Application Distribution Agreement with HTC and came to their legal aid in a suit with Nokia.]
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