Apple won another small victory in its ongoing patent infringement fight with Samsung on Thursday when Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal ordered Google to hand over the search terms it used when providing court ordered documents related to its Android OS code. The order came in Apple and Samsung's second patent infringement case in the United States where Google has been resisting requests for information while claiming it is an impartial third party that shouldn't be involved.
Google loses control over Android documents in Apple & Samsung patent fight
Judge Grewal disagreed with Google's arguments and ordered the Internet search giant to reveal the search terms it used to find the documents it submitted to the court along with the names of certain people involved in the process. Google provided so few documents that Apple's legal team questioned how the searches were conducted.
Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents commented,
Apple was thoroughly disappointed by Google's production (i.e., delivery) of documents and attributed the scarcity of search results to the use of suboptimal search terms. Given Google's expertise in search, this could only be intentional, of course.
Apple isn't getting additional documents from Google, but instead is being given the list of terms used to find the documents it already has. Depending on how Google came up with its document list, Apple may come back with its own search terms in hopes of compelling the company to release more documents.
This case with Samsung mirrors one Apple won last August, but involves newer products such as the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S III smartphones. Last year's trial ended with over US$1 billion in damages Samsung was ordered to pay Apple. Some of that ruling was set aside and will be the focus of a new trial this fall since the Jury in the case improperly awarded some of damages. The damages retrial is different from this second patent infringement case.
Apple's interest in the documents it received from Google stems from the fact that Samsung's devices in the new trial all run Google's Android OS. While some features in question are Samsung-specific add-ons, others come directly from Google's base operating system.
Google's resistance in revealing the search terms it used could be a sign that the company intentionally targeted words and phrases that would reveal as little as possible. If so, there's a good chance Apple will push for a revised document search with terms it specifies.