If you've been following the smartphone industry for a while, you'll know that, while Apple is eager to stop the likes of Samsung from 'slavishly copying' its design, the company's desire to stop Android in its tracks is much, much stronger. In fact, just before he passed away, the late Steve Jobs was quoted as saying he'd do everything he could to destroy Android.
So, how's that going for Apple? For the most part, Cupertino is targeting key Android handset manufacturers (Samsung, HTC, and Motorola to name a few). The company's most recent tactic is an effort to get a ban on the Galaxy Nexus. FOSS Patents reports that Apple brought a motion for a preliminary injunction against the device on Thursday with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
Apple is focusing on four patents for this suit: a "data tapping" patent, one for unified search (this one relates to Siri), a slide-to-unlock patent, and a word completion patent. According to FOSS Patents, three of these were granted in the last six months, and only the "data tapping" patent is a 'slam dunk' for Apple, as it has already succeeded with it in the ITC. This patent relates to the functionality that allows you to, for example, click on a phone number in an email to make a call or send a text.
If Apple is successful, the preliminary injunction will block Samsung from selling the Galaxy Nexus in the United States, at least until the court reaches a formal decision on this suit. However, this could go further than just the phone. FOSS's Florian Mueller points out that the newest Nexus, as with all other flagship Nexus devices, is running stock Android as opposed to Android with an OEM skin, or at least some OEM-added enhancements, on top. In the past, Google has left out some features from stock Android just to avoid infringement, Mueller says, because the search giant knows that OEMs will the features in question in later on. However, the fact that this case highlights a stock Android phone means Google won't be able to shift the blame.
"This means that Google cannot deny its undivided responsibility for any infringement findings. A preliminary injunction would not prohibit the sale of a Galaxy Nexus just because it's called Galaxy Nexus or looks like one: it's all about which patents it infringes on," Mueller explains. "Theoretically, Google could remove the functionality protected by any of these patents in order to keep the product on sale, but if it changes the program code of a lead device, this would make it particularly clear to everyone else in the market that there's an infringement issue."
This is just the latest in a long string of back-and-forth lawsuits between Samsung and Apple, but the fact that Apple is now targeting a 'stock Android' phone makes for an interesting development. We'll keep you posted on how this one pans out.