This is hardly the best news we at Android Headlines could bring you on 4th July but, it's news nonetheless and we don't stop working here. As you might have you heard – who're we kidding, you heard – that Apple's blood lust for the Galaxy Nexus had been granted by Judge Lucy Koh putting a full sales ban of the phone into full effect. Let's go into just how, why and what's going to get the Nexus back on shelves below.
Why Apple Went After the Nexus
Apple's been out to get the Galaxy Nexus for quite some time now in fact, the Cupertino outfit went after the phone way back in February of this year. Citing four of their patents having been infringed upon, for those interested in the legal mumbo the four patents are listed below:
- US Patent No. 8,046,721 – This one here is the infamous "slide-to-unlock" patent that Apple apparently think they own outright. Of course, Apple has another patent related to slide-to-unlock however, this one is apparently a wider net, probably to catch more fish.
- US Patent No. 5,946,647 – As the oldest patent – filed in '96, granted '99 of the bunch this might be the biggest thorn in Google's side, it relates to the detection of data such as phone numbers etc on both the web and an e-mail and can then be executed by the user such as placing a phone call etc.
- US Patent No. 8,074,172 – Dealing with keyboard related stuff here this patent covers displaying word suggestions to users when typing as well as accepting or rejecting these suggestions.
- US Patent No. 8,086,604 – Another big problem here, patent 604 relates to search results from multiple sources from one unified search box whether they be on device or not. Think spotlight here, Apple are claiming the quick search box on the Galaxy Nexus infringes on such a patent. Apple pushed Siri when contesting this patent however, also argued that a unified text search box a la the Google widget also infringes.
How The Galaxy Nexus has Disappeared from Shelves
Just as last month came to a close the ITC, specifically one Judge Lucy Koh decided that Samsung's Galaxy Nexus did in fact, infringe upon all four of the patents described above however, focussing heavily on the 604 patent. It's this patent that led to the decision to grant the preliminary injunction, Judge Koh felt that it was the unified search aspect of Siri that led the undeniably strong consumer interest iPhone 4S leading the court to decide that continued sales of the Nexus could lead to "irreparable damage" of sales of the iPhone considering that the "quick search box" is according to the court, touted as a key feature of Android. It's more than a little frustrating to see the ITC side with Apple, a patent is a patent sure but, is Judge Koh so sure that Google – you know, the search giant – not got any patents relating to this kind of search in the past, because I'm not at least.
The $96 million Dollar Question
Samsung of course appealed to the court for an appeal however, in misguided fashion the request for a stay on the ban was flat-out denied by the court. The Korean company tried to argue that the '604 patent was invalid as patent no. 6,324,534 predates it however, the court wasn't impressed and didn't agree either. In order for the sales ban to take full effect Apple were required to post a $96 million dollar bond which, of course they did without blinking an eye-lid.
How Google Hope To Get Their Nexus Back on Shelves
If you followed along with the HTC paten saga that resulted in an import ban of the EVO 4G LTE and One X earlier this year then the solution here will seem familiar to you. Google are hoping to reverse the sales ban by making sure that the Galaxy Nexus no longer infringes on Apple's precious little patent. How they hope to do this is to issue an OTA update which will essentially cripple the quick search box and remove all "on-device" results, for instance Gmail and Message results and solely return web results from any search. Obviously this is going to frustrate a number of users and of course, Google however, it's surely better than not being able to buy the Galaxy Nexus at all. We'll have more when and if this washes with the court and if the Galaxy Nexus is allowed to sail the retail seas.
How This Might Affect the Future of Android
It's clear that despite what Tim Cook might say about wanting to settle, Apple are as blood thirsty as they always have been. Apple obviously want to be the only company making successful mobile software and hardware, there's a reason why they don't go after Windows Phone and you could say it's because it doesn't infringe on anything. You could be right but I'm willing to bet that Windows Phone has some conflicting software in there. They don't go after Windows Phone because it isn't successful, why hunt the small fish when there are bigger fish out there trying to muscle in on your feeding ground?
Google have said they believe Jelly Bean to arrive on the Galaxy Nexus free of trouble and that Google Now is also free from trouble however, this has almost set a precedent, whether or not we see huge changes in Android going forward we won't be able to tell but, with Apple looking to shoot down every one of their competitors Android's partners might want to check through Apple's patent portfolio every time they make a device.