Google may be keeping it’s head down during the clashes between their Android partners and Apple, but that doesn’t mean they’ve abandoned them either. They’ve been working behind the scenes with Samsung while it fights the company from Cupertino.
Rather, Google has been quietly lending support, coordinating with Samsung over legal strategies, providing advice, doing extra legwork, and searching for prior evidence, CNET has learned from people familiar with the situation. Last month, Google asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to intervene on HTC’s behalf in its case against Nokia. In addition, many of the companies that rely on Google’s Android operating system to power their handsets, coincidentally or not, have tapped Google’s law firm of choice.
The aid Google has lent to its Android brethren shows the fine line that it has to walk as Apple wages war against its partners. While Google has a vested interest in seeing its Android licensees succeed, the company hasn’t as of yet directly taken Apple itself on.
“Google will want to stay away from this trial as much as possible,” said Neil Shah, an analyst at Strategy Analytics. “They don’t want to directly confront Apple.”
Apple’s lawsuits are seen as an attempt to slow down the Android juggernaut. While Apple’s iPhone is wildly successful, there are numerous Android phones from various manufacturers flooding the market daily. As of Q2, Android phones had over half the smartphone market, while Apple held a one-third share.
While Apple’s legal filings have centered on the look and feel of Samsung’s devices, both hardware and software, Apple has not accused Google of anything in its filings. Instead, Apple has accused Samsung of making changes to the software in order to make its products look more like the iPhone at the software level.
Google does have one important link to this case: Their law firm of choice, Quinn Emanuel.
The firm, which is representing Samsung, just also happens to have represented Google in numerous lawsuits.
One of the lead lawyers for Samsung, Quinn Emanuel attorney Charles Verhoeven, is also representing HTC and Motorola, which also happen to be Google Android partners, in patent legal actions brought against them by Apple.
It could be a coincidence that Google’s Android sidekicks all seem to be using Quinn Emanuel, but…
In March 2011, The Am Law Daily, reported that “while Verhoeven and Google won’t comment specifically, lawyers familiar with the cases speculate that Google is providing Verhoeven’s services under an indemnity agreement reached with its Android partners.”
So, Google might be picking up at least part of the bill for Samsung’s legal battle. Google has declined to comment.
A victory for Apple in its fight against Samsung could mean trouble for any company involved with Android.
This little battle against Samsung could just be a tune-up game as far as Apple is concerned. Google could be facing major problems if Apple decides to go for the gold.