updated 01:40 pm EST, Sat February 11, 2012
Apple lawsuit vs Samsung expanded
An expansion upon what few details have been available from Apple's new Samsung lawsuit has suggested that it reaches more at the core of Android and less at Samsung's specific actions. Along with accusing Samsung of violating a newer unlock gesture patent than what was covered in Germany, a second patent for a "universal interface" for retrieving data appeared to Florian Mueller to accuse Samsung of violating Siri-style searches, where stitching together keywords presents just the immediately needed results. While Android on a base level doesn't do this, it would prevent Google from providing a narrower search method in Android.
Third and fourth patents are more familiar and include a patent for performing actions on data that has been used with success against HTC at the ITC as well as the word suggestion mentioned at first. The full description appears to be as relevant to Google's own mobile search as to text correction.
If successful in getting preliminary and possibly permanent bans on Samsung's use of the patents, the lawsuit could have a ripple effect on Android as a whole. Apple's newly granted patents, three out of four of which were only granted within the past few months, could affect not just newer devices like the Galaxy Nexus but certain parts of stock Android 4.0 and later. Google has often kept Android sparing, partly to avoid patent issues, and may have changed the gesture unlocks in Android 3.0 and 4.0 precisely to avoid this kind of situation. Should the new lawsuit hold up, it could force early changes as well as a rethinking of any future efforts.
Among the possibly affected solutions is the rumored Majel voice engine for Android, which could do at least some of what Siri does through natural language search. Samsung, Motorola, and others may not have significant counters, since few if any have directly relevant patents and so far have been countersuing using standards-based patents that could see their claims tossed.