Today Apple launched a legal attack on the Galaxy Nexus in the U.S. Are you ready for another patent war? Most of these patent disputes are tedious and insignificant, but this one however is the exact opposite.

If the court rules in favour of Apple, then the Galaxy Nexus could be banned in the U.S, a huge upset in the smartphone market, and also for Samsung. The dispute involves 4 patents, which have been described as the patent equivalent of “The Four horsemen of the Apocalypse”. So they’re quite important then…

The Patents:

  1. “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer -generated data” – this has been dubbed “data tapping”, it relates to analysing data within a program, looking at the structures within that data, and then performing an action based on the structure identified. HTC have already had a run in with this particular patent because of the “linkify” library within its OS.
  2. “universal interface for retrieval of information in a computer system” – Basically, Siri. Apple obviously wants Siri to distinguish the 4S from other products on the market, and this Patent specifically refers to the way Siri searches the internet and then displays the findings. This is potentially huge, not because of the Nexus, but because of something a little bigger. Namely Google’s mobile search service.
  3. “unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image” – I think this one speaks for itself.
  4. “method, system, and graphical user interface for providing word recommendations” – this patent displays the current character string on the touch-screen (letters you have typed) and also a suggested replacement for the what you have written. It’s basically auto-correct.

A ruling against Google would be disastrous for the Nexus.

The consequences:

Now I apologise if I have summarised any of those patents incorrectly, they’re incredibly complex. They aren’t as important however as the consequences of this lawsuit. Because the Nexus is the “stock” version of Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0), the responsibility over any infringement lies directly with Google.

Google always collaborates with a manufacturer to release Android like this, like the HTC Nexus One and the Nexus S, and the OS used contains no OEM features. If the lawsuit was aimed at a manufacturer who had tweaked Android, say for instance, Motorola and the new RAZR, then Google might be off the hook, as the responsibility could also lie with Motorola for implementing changes to the OS. However that’s not the case here, so Google stands alone.

There you have it then. Apple has thrown what could be a knockout punch to Samsung. How would you feel to see the Nexus taken off U.S. shelves? Be sure to bear in mind, that if there are patent infringements found in the “stock” version of Android, the damage could extend to all Ice Cream Sandwich running devices in the future. Be sure to leave a comment below! To ask me a question, leave feedback or state your opinion to me directly.

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