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Google and Samsung secretly joined forces to fight Apple in this patent case

In a secret alliance worthy of Game of Thrones, Google and Samsung signed a surreptitious agreement to defend against a patent claim from Apple in 2012. The pact, which was revealed in a video-taped deposition, involved Google taking responsibility for part of Samsung’s legal defense in the event that Apple brings up patent claims.

(For a complete history of the battle between Apple and Samsung, read our Apple vs. Samsung Timeline.)

In the deposition video, James Maccoun, the lawyer for Google, was presented a series of emails between Samsung and Google that outline how the agreement was reached. The emails show Google offering indemnification to Samsung in relation to three Apple patents involving the Android search box and the Gmail app. According to Computerworld, indemnification in this case may mean that Google offered to cover the cost of the trial and damages to Apple in the event of a loss.

“So as I read it, Google’s essentially offering to defend Samsung to MADA (Mobile Application Distribution Agreement) and does offer to defend some claims,” Maccoun said. “This is an offer that Google made … I have no reason to believe that has changed.”  

Apple is claiming violations on the following patents: US 6,847,959, US 8,086,604 and US 7,761,414. The first two patents relate to the Android Search Box while the third is for the Gmail app. Maccoun didn’t reveal whether Google has already covered Samsung’s legal fees or if the agreement involves a specific amount of money. 

The deposition video, which was recorded in August 16 last year, was shown as Apple finished its arguments for the trial. Both sides were given 25 hours to plead their case.    

While Google is not directly involved in the patent case, it has a financial stake in seeing a positive outcome for Samsung. In his opening argument, Samsung’s counsel described the new patent case as an “attack on Android.” A victory for Apple may mean that Samsung phones running on Android would be barred from being sold in the United States, which would result in a considerable financial hit for Google since Samsung has a 31 percent share of the U.S. smartphone market. 

For the new trial, Apple is claiming $2.2. billion over the violation of five patents. Samsung, on the other hand, has countered with a $7 million lawsuit for two patents. Closing arguments are scheduled for April 28, after which the eight-person jury for the trial would begin deliberations.

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