Google Chrome uses a huge number of measures to protect its users from malware and data thievery, but according to a Texas court, a few of those measures infringe on the patents of others, and that court's findings cost Google $20 million. The patent, held jointly by the late Allen Rozman, a former engineer for Lucent, and Alfonso J. Cioffi, centers around the protection of "critical files" and a "web browser process" meant to do just that. Cioffi filed suit against Google in 2013, alleging that an antimalware measure integrated into Chrome violated the patent that he still held, though Rozman's portion was now held by his survivors. Courts originally handed Google the win in 2014, but when Cioffi got together with Rozman's family to file an appeal, it was determined that the previous judge's interpretation of the term, "web browser process" was erroneous, resulting in a ruling against Google for $20 million.
This is not where the story of this case ends. Google filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court declined to hear the case. The surviving family of Rozman, however, could reportedly end up pocketing as much as $60 million, when it's all said and done. While the parties on the other side have yet to file anything additional, it is speculated that a case could be built on just how close Google's implementation of the patent-violating code is to the original patent, and just how crucial said code is to Chrome's security.
This occasion is not the first time that Google has gotten into a spot of legal trouble over something implemented in Chrome being too close for comfort to an existing patent, and given the open-source nature of the Chromium project, meaning almost anybody can contribute, it's fairly unlikely to be the last. Chromium code is subject to review by Googlers before making it into Google's final Chrome and Chrome OS products, but patents that Google doesn't know exist and other things that can slip through the cracks can cause these types of complications, and others. Google's other current legal troubles include a possible resurrection of their ages-long battle against Oracle over Java, and ongoing antitrust investigations in various countries around the globe.