Things haven't been going too well for Google in the patent litigation arena recently. And there's potential for further bad news as an Intellectual Ventures v. Motorola Mobility trial started in Delaware on Tuesday and the Federal Circuit is likely to issue its ruling on the "Posner appeal" (which will most likely result in a remand requiring Motorola to defend itself against the "Steve Jobs patent" and other Apple patents) soon, given that the appellate hearing was held four months ago. And while not a verdict or ruling, it's also bad news for Google that Huawei settled with the Rockstar Consortium.
These are the three patent decisions that became known this week and favored different Google rivals:
On Tuesday, non-practicing entity SimpleAir announced a verdict that was rendered in the Eastern District of Texas on Saturday. Google was found to infringe U.S. Patent No. 7,035,914 on a "system and method for transmission of data" with its Google Cloud Messaging (GCM) and Android Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM) services. I don't view a broad patent like the SimpleAir '914 patent as beneficial to innovation, but the irony in this is that Google's Motorola (before and after the acquisition) also enforced a synchronization patent against Apple's iCloud push messaging. Apparently Google now has to fend off a damages claim by SimpleAir amounting to well over $100 million.
On Tuesday, Judge Koh found Samsung's Android-based devices to infringe an Apple auto-correct patent. If Samsung infringes, so do other Android device makers.
On Wednesday, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia determined that even after a modification that was meant to be a workaround, Google's AdWords offering still infringes on a Vringo patent. As a result, Vringo can collect additional royalties. The "colorable difference" standard applied here is also used in connection with U.S. patent injunctions. Google will now to either keep paying royalties to Vringo or it will have to come up with a workaround that the court will clear.
At the moment Google appears to be on a losing streak in U.S. patent courts, and as I said further above, more bad news is probably coming in the near term. Google's patent infringement issues are definitely a key reason for its push for patent reform legislation, and I doubt that Congress will solve Google's problems anytime soon. There will either be a quick agreement between both chambers of Congress on a targeted and limited reform bill or things will take much longer.
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