Apple may have launched patent infringement suits against the likes of HTC, but you can be sure that OEMs who have committed themselves to Google’s platform are not about to take Apple’s accusations lying down. In a move most would not have anticipated, Motorola has sided with HTC in its attempt to invalidate the patents Apple has used to sue the latter.
If anybody needed an indication that the patent system is in need some major reform, the recent salvo of such infringement suits filed by various companies against their competitors over smartphone intellectual property should be sufficient proof. Unfortunately, hoping for such serious changes to be made to the patent system is usually anything but productive, and companies are probably better off making use of that effort to defend themselves against such suits.
The particular suits Apple has filed against HTC is of greater concern though. Even though the infringement claims focus on HTC’s implementation of Android, there have been well-founded fears that the OEM is not Apple’s real target. Rather, it is alleged that the Cupertino company’s hidden objective is Google’s Android operating system. If Apple’s patents were to hold up in a court of law as being relevant, it would affect all handset manufacturers which are currently implementing Android for their smartphones as well, as Apple would technically be able to sue all smartphone OEMs for patent infringement.
Should such a case happen, Motorola will undoubtedly be affected as well, having committed itself to the Android platform as well. As such, there is a real need to protect itself from such potential lawsuits by siding with HTC.
In addition, one must also take into account that Android is already being attack on at least three different fronts. While Microsoft and Apple have been busy filing patent lawsuits against OEMs who have adopted Android, the free operating system is also currently under fire from Oracle. This case is a little more complex, as it affects a key component of the operating system. The topic of contention involves the Dalvik virtual machine, which is based of Apache’s Harmony Java implementation, and Oracle claims that the act of developing Android is an act of “knowingly, directly and repeatedly infringing (sic) Oracle’s Java-related intellectual property”.
Of course, it is still probably too early to predict what will happen to the world’s second most-popular smartphone OS. After all, Google probably has enough cash in its coffers to contest any lawsuit, while OEMs who have committed themselves to Google’s platform are unlikely to cease developing Android smartphones just because of the looming storm clouds caused by such patent infringement suits.
However, regardless of the outcome, one thing is for sure: Google’s honeymoon period with Android is probably all but over.