One of the most trusted websites when it comes to researching patent issues going on in the world of technology today is Florian Mueller’s Foss Patents blog. Mueller has over 25 years experience in the technology and patent world and consults many companies on the issues of intellectual property. He also keeps the world up to date on the latest in patent wars.
Well Mueller released, what could end up being a bomb shell on Foss Patents yesterday.
On background it’s important that we realize that Apple is suing HTC, Motorola and others on patents stemming from those companies’ Android phones. They have not yet sued Google over patents. For the most part this is because a lot of their patent disputes have to deal with things like form factor, hardware features etc.
More after the break
We’re sure that Apple is currently working on their lawsuit against Google. Even more evidence may have surfaced about that in Apple’s lawsuit against HTC. Apple contends that Google’s chief on Android, Andy Rubin’s, relevant background as it pertains to Android didn’t start at Google, or Danger, or even General Magic, but actually at Apple where Rubin worked from 1989-1992.
Mueller has posted this extraction from Apple’s most recent response to the ITC on Foss Patents:
Android and Mr. Rubin’s relevant background does not start, as HTC would like the Commission to believe, with his work at General Magic or Danger in the mid-1990s. In reality, as the evidence revealed at the hearing, Mr. Rubin began his career at Apple in the early 1990s and worked as a low-level engineer specifically reporting to the inventors of the ‘263 [realtime API] patent at the exact time their invention was being conceived and developed. […] It is thus no wonder that the infringing Android platform used the claimed subsystem approach of the ‘263 patent that allows for flexibility of design and enables the platform to be “highly customizable and expandable” as HTC touts. […] While Mr. Rubin’s inspiration for the Android framework may not be directly relevant to the pending petitions for review, that HTC felt compelled to distort this history is illustrative of the liberties it takes in attacking the ALJ’s [initial determination] and the substantial evidence supporting the ALJ’s findings.
Mueller posts an actual screen shot of the filing here.
So what does this mean. Well in a nutshell Apple feels that Andy Rubin stole the ideas for the framework and the 263 realtime api patent from Apple from his work at the company over 20 years ago.
Now this won’t be as big a deal for HTC as it will be when Apple comes around and sues Google. Most of the industry analysts are just waiting for that shoe to drop. There is some speculation that Apple and Google’ relationship for search on mobile and Google Maps may keep Apple from suing Google over patents, but if this most recent claim is true, what’s holding them back?
I for one think it’s a stretch to think that Rubin stole the ideas from Apple. Although at a primitive level in comparison, a lot of the same ideas behind Android were found in Danger and expanded upon for Android and are continually expanded on with every new release.
If the ITC takes this claim seriously we could be in one heck of a fiasco with our favorite little green robot. But I’ll tell you this if the ITC rules in favor of this patent then Im going to go out and patent all kinds of things I expect may be around in 20 years, can somebody say hover shoes.
Source: Foss Patents