Apple, Samsung Patent Verdict: 10 Ways It Could Affect Google

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2012-08-28

Apple, Samsung Patent Verdict: 10 Ways It Could Affect Google

Apple on Aug. 24 was awarded a $1.05 billion ruling by a jury in San Jose, Calif., that found that Samsung had violated several of the iPhone maker's patents. Now, Apple is trying to have a host of Samsung products banned from sale in the United States, and Samsung, desperate to not let that happen, has already indicated that it'll do everything in its legal power to have the ruling reversed.

As one might expect, much of the attention surrounding the trial has centered on Apple and Samsung. However, there are other companies that will be affected by it. Chief among them is Google.

Google is best known as a search company, but Android and Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility has made it a mobile market giant. Make no mistake about it, the Android operating system is as much a part of this legal mess as Samsung. Google will be impacted greatly by the ruling.

Wondering how Google might be affected? Here are the reasons why.

1. Google developed Android, didn't it?

As the ruling indicates, Android played a key role in Apple's battle with Samsung. Apple attorneys pointed to similarities in the software used in both companies' devices and claimed that Samsung had tried to mimic the iPhone experience–iOS and all–as closely as possible. Considering Google makes Android, it would make sense that it make get hit with some of the legal collateral damage.

2. It puts Android development into the crosshairs

Since Android is open source, Google hands it over to vendors that then modify it as they see fit. Now that Apple has won a key victory against an Android vendor, look for Google and its partners' development processes to be called into question. With Apple's win, anything–and any company– in the mobile market is fair game.

3. How will other vendors respond?

It's not clear how other vendors might respond to the ruling. Will it scare them away? Will they continue on the same path? Will they try to license patents from Apple? Google relies heavily upon vendor relationships to keep its mobile division going. If this ruling affects those relationships, it's bad news for the search giant.

4. It gives Apple ammunition to take on Google

So far, Apple has shied away from targeting Google directly. But with a victory now in its pocket, what's really stopping Apple from going after the search company? With the right legal strategy and this precedent to boot, it's possible that Apple will haul Google into court seeking another major legal victory.

Google Might Seek to Control Even More Mobile Patents

5. Microsoft gains an upper hand

If there is any company that Google can't stand, it's Microsoft. And unfortunately for the search company, it's Microsoft that might just stand to gain the most here. If vendors run away from Android for fear of getting hit by Apple, the only logical place they'll go is to Windows Phone. That's bad news for Google–and its mobile market share.

6. Google might acquire more companies

It's entirely possible that Google will spend significant cash in the coming years to safeguard itself from possible lawsuits from Apple. Google knows that in order to be successful in any case, it needs to hold the right patents. That's why it acquired Motorola Mobility. Look for Google to purchase more companies with big patent portfolios just to safeguard itself from Apple.

7. Look for more and more patent filings

It's also possible that Google is currently looking for holes in Apple's patent portfolio and will try to win intellectual property rights on more technologies. As the mobile market has shown, the companies with the bigger portfolios have a better chance of protecting their turf and growing market share. Don't believe for a second that Google doesn't know that.

8. A shift in general strategy?

So far, Google itself has decided to stay on the sidelines in the mobile-patent wars, only responding to complaints from other companies. But perhaps the Apple victory will change that. Google needs to assert itself and make it clear that it can protect its vendor partners. In order to do that, it might just launch its own infringement cases against Apple and others.

9. The bonds might grow stronger

All of this talk about vendors potentially leaving Google's Android platform forgets one key alternative: it's possible that they'll instead decide to get closer to Google. As noted, Apple has yet to take on Google, indicating that it doesn't want that fight. Perhaps if vendors get closer to Google, they'll be able to protect themselves from Apple's lawsuits.

10. Google might be forced to release its own products

Let's not forget that there is a chance that Google's best response to Samsung's loss, and its best chance of maintaining market share with an Apple victory, would be to launch its own device. Yes, there are Google-branded products available now, but the company has yet to offer a device it has fully developed from scratch. Perhaps the Apple-Samsung case and the fallout that will ensue will prompt Google to protect itself a bit more with a product all its own.

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