Apple v. Samsung: Google to Cover Some Costs, Assume Some Liability

Apple, Samsung, and GoogleTuesday's court testimony in the patent infringement trial between Apple and Samsung revealed that Google had agreed to cover some of Samsung's legal costs in defending itself against Apple, according to Re/code. More interestingly, the search giant also agreed to assume some liability for some of Apple's patent claims involved in the suit.

That would mean that Google would be footing part of the bill if Samsung is found to have infringed on the covered patent claims and if the jury then awards Apple damages.

An Apple attorney played deposition from James Maccoun, an attorney working for Google who verified an email train where Google agreed to indemnify Samsung against some claims in four patents. Two of those patents were then dropped from the trial when Judge Lucy Koh forced the two companies to narrow the focus of the trial.

The two patents that are still involved in the trial are known as '414, which covers background synching, and '959, which covers universal search. Both features are part of the Android operating system, rather than being something bolted onto Android by Samsung.

Samsung is liable for infringement claims, however, because it used Android to run its devices. By agreeing to partially or fully indemnify Samsung, Google is assuming that liability. Which specific patent claims are involved was not made clear during testimony.

Re/code's Ina Fried pointed out that several people from Google have testified in the trial, but this was the first indication that the company had taken on an official role behind the scenes to help defend Samsung. How that help ends up translating to money paid will likely take months or years to work out, and that's only if the jury finds infringement.