Google assumes liability in some of Apple's patent claims against Samsung

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Google assumes liability in some of Apple's patent claims against Samsung
The Apple-Samsung patent battle has taken another interesting turn. Google's lawyers are now participating in the latest round of litigation, with the search giant's counsel testifying on Tuesday that it is contractually bound to take over defence of some of Apple's claims against Samsung, as well as indemnify Samsung in case it loses those claims.

Google's role in the battle is pivotal, with the Samsung devices in question running on its Android operating system. The Mountain View giant has a history of defending its OEMs from patent infringement allegations, with HTC and Motorola two such examples. In the case of Samsung, Google is reportedly also willing to pay some of the South Korean firm's legal costs.

According to Re/code, Google will defend Samsung over four patents claimed by Apple - claims on two of these patents however, have reportedly been dropped ahead of the trial. The two remaining patents '414 and '959, respectively deal with background synchronisation and universal search features.

Both these features are built into the Android operating system, clearly indicating why Google would need to defend against Apple's claims instead of Samsung. As it turns out, Google is contractually bound to defend OEMs who sign the 'Mobile Application Distribution Agreement' if the patent claims they are facing are related to the bundled apps and services from the agreement - such as Gmail, Google Search, and Google Maps.

You may wonder then, why Apple is suing Samsung instead of Google, if most of Apple's software patent claims are better defended by Google. Legally, companies can sue manufacturers of end-products that use the allegedly infringed patents.

The reasoning behind Apple's targeting of Samsung is quite clear - Samsung stands to make (or lose) a lot of money with the sale (or ban) of its Android devices, while Google gives away its operating system for free with a few caveats. Apart from damages for infringing on patents, for which Apple is seeking $2 billion, a US ban on the sale of Samsung's Android devices would understandably affect the South Korean firm.

According to Re/code, both Google and Samsung representatives declined to comment about which claims precisely Google was defending Samsung against, or offering indemnification for. The companies also didn't specify what their agreement covered in terms of liability and defence costs. The report notes that till date in this particular trial, Samsung has already called numerous Google employees to testify for it.
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