updated 08:02 pm EDT, Fri July 6, 2012
Android implementation of multi-touch patent at stake
The Mannheim courts in Germany have set the date for the legal showdown between Apple, Samsung, and Motorola. After hearing arguments today from lawyers for each party, the date has been set for Apple versus Motorola on August 31, and Apple versus Samsung on September 21. Both suits regard a touchscreen function known as multi-touch, detailing what happens when multiple fingers are pressed simultaneously to different parts of the screen. Apple asserts that both Motorola and Samsung are violating its patents.
Should Motorola lose the case versus Apple, Google would likely have to further modify the Android operating system to prevent patent violation. Such modifications would affect compatibility with existing applications reliant on the current implementation of multitouch, and functionalities like text highlighting and copy-and-paste would have to be reimplemented.
Google announced earlier this week that it would make code changes in Android to work around its infringement of another Apple patent ("unified search"). The Android maker may preemptively work around other patents a court has found it to be likely infringing (such as the "data tapping" patent) in a US case Apple brought against Samsung.
The German complaints accuse Motorola and Samsung of violating six patents, primarily relating to multi-touch but also in part to graphical interface elements in the OS and custom implementations of Android devices. Most of Motorola's currently-shipping Android-based devices are accused to be in violation of the patent. In pursuing its cases, Apple is hoping to both get a permanent injunction against Motorola's devices and an unspecified amount of damages.
Since the original suit was filed in October of 2010, Motorola was purchased by Google. The lawsuit versus Samsung in the German courts should be the first full opportunity for Google to show how far it will go in support of its partner companies in the international forum.