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Apple alleges Andy Rubin got inspiration for Android while working at Apple


A substantial wrinkle has just been introduced in Apple's patent infringement case against HTC. According to recent briefs that Apple filed in that case, Android's genesis was not in the mid-1990s when Andy Rubin worked for General Magic or Danger. Instead, Apple alleges that Rubin drew inspiration for Android's frameworks from APIs he encountered while working for Apple itself in the early 90s.

Apple claims that Rubin was a "low-level engineer" who reported directly to the engineers who invented one of the patents it claims HTC infringes. Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents surmises this means Rubin may have "contributed to the implementation of the claimed invention." If true, this allegation would go a long way toward proving Apple's claim that Rubin derived some of Android's frameworks from work he did at Apple.

Mueller notes that this has "serious ramifications" should Apple ever decide to sue Google itself rather than suing it by proxy via Android handset manufacturers. "Google (or a Google subsidiary like [Motorola]) would almost certainly be found to infringe the relevant patent intentionally, and willful infringement would greatly increase Apple's chances of obtaining an injunction as well as triple damages."

Mueller points out that the judge presiding in Oracle's lawsuit against Google also suspects Rubin of willful patent infringement. If Google is found guilty of willful infringement in both the Oracle suit and an as yet theoretical suit from Apple, Google's future (and Android's) looks very rocky indeed.

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