Apple Targets Google’s Nexus Flagship Phone In Latest Legal Battle

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Apple US filing claims Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphone, Google’s reference model, infringes on four key patents

Apple’s latest lawsuit against Samsung could see the Galaxy Nexus smartphone, currently Google’s flagship Android Ice Cream Sandwich device, banned from sale in the US.

The preliminary injunction, filed at a court in California, is based on four patents which are all allegedly violated in the Android 4.0 operating system, making Google potentially responsible for the breaches.

Apple on the offensive

Apple’s claims relate to a “data tapping” patent, which involves marking up phone numbers or email addresses, to be quickly used in conjunction with other programs, a unified method of Internet searching, a slide-to-unlock mechanism, and a word completion patent relating to speedy text entry on a touchscreen.

Foss Patents analyst Florian Mueller highlights that as the Nexus represents ‘stock’ Android (that is, without any manufacturers’ additions), Google will be directly culpable. The first “data tapping” patent will be especially problematic as Apple had previously succeeded at the US International Trade Commission, forcing HTC to remove the offending feature.

“This time around, Apple focuses completely on strong technical patents,” commented Mueller. “Last time, the emphasis was mostly on softer, design-related rights.”

Samsung has previously dealt with other claims from Apple in European courts, most recently by redesigning the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to comply with German rulings. If this new lawsuit is successful, it would require significant changes to Android rather than a quick cosmetic tweak.

“Samsung has systematically copied Apple’s innovative technology and products, features, and designs, and has deluged markets with infringing devices in an effort to usurp market share from Apple,” Apple’s complaint argues. “Apple is filing this suit to put an end to Samsung’s continued infringement.”

Apple will be hoping for greater success in the US than they have had recently in China and Europe. Aside from being forced to remove iPads and iPhone from their German sites, a ruling in China declared that Apple was denied rights to the iPad brand.