Apple has won the right to peer deeper into Motorola’s Android development cycle than ever before, and certainly more than Google would like its biggest competitor to have. According to a US District Court judge in Illinois ruling on a case from 2010, Apple is entitled to view tenets of Android’s makeup because it alleges that Motorola has violated several patents by directly incorporating them into its version of Android.
Patent #5,566,377 (“method and apparatus for distributing events in an operating system”) from 1994, and #5,519,867 (“describes an object-oriented multitasking system”) from 1993 are in dispute, among others, and Apple claims that for Motorola “to remove or design around the claimed features would involve a substantial overhaul of the Android operating system, which would likely cost [them] tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars to implement,” and the amount of money Google paid “to acquire and develop the Android system” is directly proportionate to the damages Apple is seeking.
Considering Motorola Mobility is about to be purchased by Google in its entirety, Apple’s attorneys determined that “the Android/Motorola acquisition discovery is highly relevant to Apple’s claims and defenses,” and Google should be liable for Motorola’s wrongdoings in this patent dispute. The judge stated that both Google and Motorola must comply with Apple’s “liability discovery demands,” and as such must turn over relevant documentation that might impugn Motorola and therefore Google.
It is rumoured that Apple may be offering companies it is in litigation with, namely Motorola and Samsung, deals to license its patents for between $5 and $15 per handset sold. Likely because Apple can’t be expected to win every case it enters into, and also because they are being sued themselves by a number of Android manufacturers, a settlement is often the easier solution to a protracted litigation.
The case continues, and Motorola has counter-sued Apple for similar patent infringement. Back-to-back trials are expected to start on June 11th.