Google, Motorola Ordered to Give Apple Android Details

A federal judge has ordered Google and Motorola to hand over details about Android to Apple. It’s a small legal victory for Cupertino in a long patent war.

Apple's legal team enjoyed a small victory March 5, when a federal judge in Chicago ruled that Google and Motorola Mobility must hand over to Apple information relevant to development of Google's Android operating system, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The ruling came as part of an ongoing 2010 lawsuit filed by Apple against Motorola€”which is in the process of being acquired by Google. Motorola also has a pending lawsuit against Apple. Motorola has been an enthusiastic backer of Android, which has surpassed Apple iOS in global market share.

€œThe Android/Motorola acquisition discovery is highly relevant to Apple€™s claims and defenses,€ Apple€™s attorneys€™ wrote in a March 2 filing, requesting the judge€™s order, reported Bloomberg, which has obtained court documents.

With Google yet to fully acquire Motorola, attorneys for the later argued that Google has nothing to do with the lawsuit, and the request lacked merit.

"Google€™s employees and documents are not within the €˜possession, custody or control€™ of Motorola, and Motorola cannot force Google to produce documents or witnesses over Google€™s objections,€ Motorola said in a March 5 court filing, according to the report.

In November 2010, Apple sued Motorola for infringing on patents related to multi-touch and other screen-related technologies. In October 2010, Motorola sued Apple, accusing it of infringing on technologies used in the Apple iPhone, iPad, iTouch and some Mac computers.

Motorola's corporate vice president of intellectual property said in a statement at the time that Motorola has "extensively licensed our industry-leading intellectual property portfolio, consisting of tens of thousands of patents in the U.S. and worldwide. After Apple€™s late entry into the telecommunications market, we engaged in lengthy negotiations, but Apple has refused to take a license."

Motorola's extensive patent portfolio is said to be Google's No. 1 reason for acquiring the phone maker. Fortifying its holdings, it's thought, will help to keep it out of court with Apple in the future.

Apple has also sued Android-advocate HTC, as well as once-market-leader Nokia.

According to Bloomberg, beginning June 11, U.S. Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner, who made the ruling yesterday, will oversee back-to-back trials with Apple and Motorola before separate juries. The first trial will be in regard to six disputed Apple patents while the second will deal with three Motorola patents.

Motorola has had some success with its Droid line of phones, but nothing near the high-flying it did during its Razr feature phone days. Samsung has instead emerged as the leading Android smartphone maker. During the fourth quarter of 2011, Apple shipped 35.5 million devices, according to a Feb. 15 report from Gartner, for a 7.4 percent share of the market€”up from its 3.5 percent share a year earlier. Motorola, by contrast, shipped just more than 10 million devices, dipping to a 2.1 percent market share from 2.4 percent a year ago.

Gartner analysts lumped it with LG, Sony Ericsson and Research In Motion as vendors that "again recorded disappointing results," while Apple and Samsung cemented their positions at the top of the market.