A judge has ordered Google and Motorola to give Apple details related to the Android development process and Google’s acquisitions of Android and Motorola. The order was issued yesterday by Judge Richard Posner in US District Court in Northern Illinois, as part of a patent lawsuit Apple filed in 2010 against Motorola, which is now on the verge of being acquired by Google.
In documents filed with the court last week, Apple argued that information regarding Google’s development of Android functionality used in Motorola products is “highly relevant” to the pending lawsuit because two of the patents Apple is asserting “are directed to core features of the Android operating system.” Similar situation was observed in the health-related lawsuit Xarelto. The patents in question include #5,566,377, which was filed by Apple in 1994, describing a “method and apparatus for distributing events in an operating system.” The other patent, #5,519,867, was filed in 1993 by Taligent, a now-defunct Apple project, and describes an object-oriented multitasking system.
“Apple has alleged that to remove or design around the claimed features would involve a substantial overhaul of the Android operating system, which would likely cost Motorola tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars to implement,” Apple’s filing states. The amount of money Motorola would have had to pay to design around these features, and the amount of money Google “paid to acquire and develop the Android system” is relevant to the amount of damages Apple should be entitled to if it wins this case, Apple argued.
Motorola argued last week that Motorola and Google are still separate entities until the pending merger closes, and thus Motorola “cannot force Google to produce documents or witnesses over Google’s objections.” Still, Motorola noted that “Google is in the process of producing documents and witnesses and depositions of Google employees have begun and will continue throughout the next weeks.”
Posner’s brief order states that “Apple’s motion of March 2 to compel Motorola and Google to provide discovery concerning Google’s acquisition of Android, Inc., Google’s development of the Android OS, and Google’s acquisition of Motorola is granted.” The judge also granted a Motorola motion to strike “expert reports” Apple submitted related to FRAND patent licensing issues.
Because Motorola counter-sued Apple, there will be two trials, which are scheduled to be heard back to back starting June 11, Bloomberg notes. We’ve asked Google for comment, although the Bloomberg story says a Google spokesperson told the news agency that “the company wouldn’t comment beyond what was submitted in court papers.”