The future for the Apple-Google relationship

Caroline Gabriel/Wireless Watch
12 Sep 2012

He has hinted at a desire to make a settlement – on Apple's terms of course – to halt the endless round of expensive lawsuits, and is rumored to have held preliminary discussions this week with Google CEO Larry Page.

However, while Apple may be resisting bringing its former friend directly into the fray, it is not letting up the pressure on Samsung, extending its legal attacks to the newer Galaxy S III and Note models, as the Korean firm increasingly expands its market dominance.

Google has not been the direct target of any Apple lawsuits as yet, except for those it inherited with the purchase of Motorola Mobility, and it has worked hard to distance itself from Samsung's San Jose defeat, claiming the patents at issue in that case were not generic to Android.

However, the search giant's hand is everywhere, via support for OEM partners' legal and lobbying campaigns, and even transfer of IPR to HTC. It is clear that Android, rather than individual vendors, is the real target for Apple's missiles, so any compromise with Google could affect the outstanding fights with Samsung, HTC, Motorola and others, and stall the iPhone maker's hand in further lawsuits.

According to Reuters sources, the two CEOs have already spoken by phone and will hold further talks soon. Google may feel itself on the back foot following the high profile Samsung decision. IPR expert Florian Mueller of Foss Patents told CNet: “Theoretically they could hold Google responsible for all of the harm that Android allegedly causes to Apple, but it's a much more difficult story to tell to a judge and, especially, a jury. It's also more difficult to get an injunction against someone who doesn't compete with you directly, only indirectly.”

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