Wednesday Grok: Google dismisses wider war talk after court verdict

Conflating Apple v Samsung to Apple v Android

It’s hard to imagine a court verdict resulting in a billion dollar damages ruling could be considered a warm up act, but that is the prism through which Apple’s pwnage of Samsung over the weekend is being viewed. The San Hose Mercury lead the pack yesterday with the argument that the legal victory is just the first phase of a wider war.

According to the report headlined “Apple’s Win Over Samsung Is The First Step In Its 'Thermonuclear War' Against Google” that Business Insider republished, “The jury's verdict is widely seen as a setback for the ‘Android ecosystem’ of hardware manufacturers, including Samsung, and application developers who use Google's mobile software.”

It is not, however, viewed as anything like a killer blow, according to the story. And if the billion dollar fine and potential injunctions weren’t bad enough for Samsung, it can’t even elicit much of a sympathy vote either with one industry analyst in the report describing the company as mere “collateral damage”. CNN pursued a similar line (also with a republished article — this time from Wired), “Should Google be running scared of Apple?”

Crisis? What crisis? That’s the message Google is trying to promote to its smartphone partners and investors, according to CNN. “Google, which has stayed silent about the case until now, said Monday that these utility patent features aren't part of the core Android operating system, which runs underneath Samsung's and other device manufacturer's modifications.” The report noted that the version of Android that Google provides to partners does not appear to infringe upon Apple’s patents. “However, licensees can modify the Android system and build any feature they like, and those features could violate other patented technologies.”

Google’s argument that its core Android operating system is shorn of many of the features which nailed Samsung is a reasonable one — for Google — but the real trouble is that if its handset manufacturers find themselves up the creek, it will be left to supply for the paddle.

Here’s Google’s full (and short) statement following the verdict:

“The court of appeals will review both infringement and the validity of the patent claims. Most of these don’t relate to the core Android operating system, and several are being re-examined by the U.S. Patent Office. The mobile industry is moving fast and all players — including newcomers — are building upon ideas that have been around for decades. We work with our partners to give consumers innovative and affordable products, and we don’t want anything to limit that.”

In fact, Google seems to have gone to some lengths to suggest Samsung tones down its copying (or brazen theft of intellectual property to put it plainly). Jury members said that emails from Google to Samsung telling them to change their designs to look less like Apple were instrumental to their judgment, according to the Financial Review.

Finally, in the hours after the ruling, Apple’s market cap spiked another $10 billion eclipsing the judgment value by an order of magnitude. That’s still a smaller move than the $12 billion in Samsung’s market value which was obliterated by the verdict.

Andrew Birmingham is the CEO of www.imeemy.com and a director of Silicon Gully Investments. Follow him on Twitter @ag_birmingham.

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