A federal judge has ordered Google and Motorola Mobility to hand over information about their merger and the development of Android OS to arch-rival Apple, according to Bloomberg. Apple sought the information as part of a patent infringement lawsuit the company has against Motorola Mobility, and Judge Richard Posner of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois agreed that Apple was entitled to it.
(IDG News noted that Judge Posner is normally an Appeals Court judge, but is handling the trial court case for the Northern District of Illinois).
Apple sought the information in two motions. The Wall Street Journal reported that the first was designed to find out what value Google was placing on features in Motorola Mobility devices that Apple claims infringe on Apple’s intellectual property. The second pertains to Google’s roadmap for Android, and it’s not yet clear what Apple hopes to gain from that information.
Google agreed to buy MMI in 2011 for US$12.5 billion. The move gives Google control over MMI’s patent portfolio, a significant portfolio with thousands of patents in the mobile computing space that Google can possibly use to defend Android against patent infringement claims from Apple, Microsoft, and other parties in the industry.
That merger has been approved by most of the global regulatory bodies with jurisdiction over such things, and it has also been approved by MMI’s shareholders. It has not, however, fully taken place, and MMI argued in court that Google is not a party to Apple’s lawsuit against MMI, and that MMI had no means of compelling Google to hand over anything.
Judge Posner didn’t buy those arguments, and ordered the two companies to give Apple what it wanted.
The judge is presiding over two related cases, one where Apple has accused MMI of infringing on six of its patents, and another where MMI has accused Apple of infringing on three MMI patents. They are currently scheduled for June of 2012 and will be held back to back.