Apple is seeking a preliminary injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the first Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" device, in a U.S. court. The injunction could see a ban on the device if Apple is successful in its bid.
FOSS Patents author Florian Mueller brought this to light early this morning. He describes these patents as the equivalent to the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse":
- U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647: a data tapping patent for which the U.S. ITC ordered an import ban against HTC;
- U.S. Patent No. 8,086,604: a unified search patent that relates to Siri, which could affect Google's mobile search service;
- U.S. Patent No. 8,046,721: a slide-to-unlock patent that allows devices to do exactly that;
- U.S. Patent No. 8,074,172: a word completion patent that completes words based for touch-screen text entry;
The preliminary injunction could prevent the Galaxy Nexus from being sold in the Unites States, which would be a serious blow to not only Samsung, but to end-consumers also.
Google brings its Android-based Nexus products to the market with the help from a major manufacturer each time. The Nexus One was manufactured by HTC in January 2010, with the Nexus S and the Galaxy Nexus both manufactured by Samsung a year on and apart from each other.
The Galaxy Nexus is effectively "stock Android", meaning the operating system is supplied directly by Google, and is free from OEM-related junk.
Mueller asserts that: "Google has sometimes refrained from implementing certain features in "stock Android" just to steer clear of infringement, knowing that some of those functionalities would be implemented by OEMs anyway."
But because Android is in the focus here rather than the devices, Google is stuck in a Catch-22 situation. Either it can remove the functionality and the market knows Google infringed patents, or it can leave it in and face the consequences of the courts.