Google Has Got Samsung’s Back in Apple Litigation

Source: Thinkstock

On Tuesday, Samsung’s (SSNLF.PK) testimony in its defense against Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) revealed that Android maker Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has promised it will help take on some of the legal costs and liability involved in patent disputes over Samsung’s Android-powered smartphones. Apple and Samsung are currently embroiled in a legal battle over patents, which could see the South Korea-based company paying a whopping $2 billion fine to Apple for allegedly infringing patents on the iPhone.

According to a report from Re/code, a lawyer from Google testified on Tuesday, saying that Google would take over some of Samsung’s defense and compensate Samsung for some of whatever damages are determined, as per an earlier agreement made between the two companies. According to evidence presented by Apple, Google agreed to provide full or partial indemnity for four of Samsung’s patents, two of which were dropped from the case before the trial started.

The two patents Google said it would provide indemnity for still in the trial relate to background synchronization and universal search. The five different patents Apple is seeking damages for cover the technology for data tapping, unified search, organizing media, asynchronous data syncing, slide-to-unlock, and remote video transmission.

A report from AppleInsider said that Apple’s response to the sudden inclusion of Google was to point out that Samsung previously claimed it would not take indemnity from a third party. Apple showed video of Google lawyer James Maccoun from August 2013 confirming that Google had agreed to back up Samsung in the Apple patent litigation. In September 2012, Samsung said in an interrogatory response that “Samsung is not currently seeking indemnification from any third party.”

Google has been frequently mentioned in the case, but Tuesday was the first time a representative of the company as a whole made an appearance. Samsung has called an executive from Android to the stand and even said that Google was the one Apple should be suing over the patents it believes are being infringed. Samsung’s lawyer, Peter Quinn, said in the company’s opening statements that several of the patents Apple has issue with, including tap-to-search and slide-to-unlock, were actually developed by Google in the Android operating system on which Samsung phones operate.

“Not one of the accused features on this phone was designed, much less copied, by anyone at Samsung,” Quinn said in his opening remarks, per CBS News. “The accused features on this phone were developed independently by some of the software engineers at Google, up the road in Mountain View.”

Even though Samsung is pointing the blame at Google, the company doesn’t believe Apple is warranted to sue over the features that Android allegedly copies. “What this case is really about is Apple trying to limit consumer choice and to gain an unfair advantage of its one main competitor, Google’s Android,” Quinn said in Samsung’s opening statements.

Vice President of Engineering for Android Hiroshi Lockheimer echoed Samsung’s argument in his testimony, given last week. Lockheimer dismissed Apple’s accusations that the Android team copied features from the iOS operating system. “We liked to have our own identity; we liked to have our own ideas,” said Lockheimer, according to CNET. “We were very passionate about what we were doing, and it was important that we have our own ideas.”

Re/code said that it’s uncertain right now how the costs will be divided, but that Google will likely only agree to cover costs related to the areas of Android that are not open source. If Samsung does get slapped with that huge fine — the company has argued that Apple is asking for way too much money — then it will need all the help it can get from its friends in Mountain View, California.

More From Wall St. Cheat Sheet:

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS