Google may have been giving preferential treatment to Motorola for some time, according to documents that have emerged from the Google-Oracle case.
That case is largely concerned with Android's use of Java, but a document made public late on Tuesday by Judge Alsup relates to Google's internal plans for benefiting from Android, an open-source mobile operating system that is free to license. The document may have implications for Google's chances in clearing antitrust scrutiny for its $12.5bn (£7.6bn) takeover of Motorola.
The document, highlighted by mobile patent expert Florian Mueller, appears to come from an internal presentation explaining how Google can gain from Android despite giving it away. The general thrust of the argument is that the company can provide incentives to its partners that will help Google avoid losing control of the ecosystem.
One point in particular relates to Motorola and Verizon. It reads: "Lead device concept: Give early access to the software to partners who build and distribute devices to our specification (ie, Motorola and Verizon). They get a non-contractual time to market advantage and in return they align to our standard."
This implies that Google has been giving other manufacturers Android code after Motorola and Verizon have already benefited from early access, in exchange for Motorola and Verizon not forking their Android implementations. It is not clear when the document dates from, although Mueller said in a Twitter message on Thursday that the court must have the date in its sealed evidence record.
It is therefore difficult to judge whether Google only considered giving Motorola preferential treatment, or whether this actually took place.
When it announced the Motorola takeover, Google said it would not give the handset manufacturer preferential treatment over its rivals — the deal is supposed to be more about patents than about getting into the hardware business. However, Android manufacturers such as Samsung are reportedly nervous about the potential for Motorola gaining too much of an advantage.
ZDNet UK has asked Google for comment on the document and its implications, but had received no reply at the time of writing.