Google agreed to shoulder financial burden in Samsung-Apple patent battle

Documents reveal that Google agreed to assist Samsung financially in the patent dispute between the South Korean firm and Apple.

Google agreed to provide financial support to Samsung to help the company defend itself against patent litigation brought forward by rival firm Apple.


The tech giant, whose Android operating system is used in Samsung smartphones and tablets, agreed to assist the South Korean electronics maker in the $2 billion patent dispute between the company and Apple. 

Apple claims that 10 Samsung products, including the Galaxy S3, infringe upon patents covering user-interface technologies.

According to sister site CNET, Google patent attorney James Maccoun authenticated emails sent between Google and Samsung in 2012 which stated the former would "defend and indemnify" Samsung over the technology Apple claims infringes upon its patents. The emails revealed that Google would shoulder some of the financial burden for the cost of defense, as well as potential damages if Samsung lost.

During Maccoun's deposition, the attorney said:

I see [indemnify] as a general term relating to providing a defense against claims and then can mean other things depending on the outcome of litigation. I understand that Google is defending Samsung and that this is reflected by emails.

The reason? Samsung and Google agreed to a "Mobile Application Distribution Agreement" which required the South Korean firm to include Google apps on its Galaxy smartphone and tablet range. In return, Google would help with potential legal costs related to this technology, which could involve up to two out of the five disputed patents. In addition, should Apple win, a ban on Samsung devices would also keep Google apps out of consumer hands.

The iPhone and iPad maker was awarded $930 million in damages in the first round of the lawsuit, and is now demanding financial restitution of up to $40 for each of the 37 million Samsung devices which are allegedly using infringed-upon intellectual property, after failing to convince a judge to ban the sale of specific Samsung products.

Apple is seeking $2.2 billion in damages, while Samsung is asking for $6.2 million for alleged Apple infringement.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Stanford Law School professor Mark Lemley called the disparity in damage claims a "strategic decision" by Samsung to "portray Apple as greedy, given the remarkably high per-phone price Apple is seeking."

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