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Apple: Google is no "friend of the court"


Earlier this week, Google, along with a host of other companies, sought permission to file an amicus curiae brief to support Samsung's efforts to oppose Apple's own efforts to secure injunctions against a number of accused Samsung devices.

Amicus curiae -- which literally means 'friend of the court' --- are briefs filed by third parties whose interests may be affected by the outcome of a particular case. More specifically, it's a way for a party to inform the court that its decision will have an impact that reaches out far beyond the two parties litigating the case in question.

That said, Apple's isn't exactly keen on Google trying to help out Samsung in this regard. In a recently filed motion, Apple argues that Google's vested interest in this particular case is so substantial that it should be precluded from participating in the amicus curiae brief.

The lead party on the brief, Google, Inc., admittedly has a direct interest in the outcome of this appeal. As the motion explains, Google is the developer of the Android operating system running on the Samsung smartphones that Apple seeks to enjoin in this case. That interest conflicts with the traditional role of an amicus as "an impartial friend of the court -- not an adversary party in interest in the litigation."

Apple goes on to say that courts typically deny amici briefs when they are filed as "an end run around court-imposed limitations on the length of parties' briefs," which is what Apple seems to think is going on here.

Notably, this isn't the first time Apple has questioned Google's attempt to self-position itself as an impartial third party.

A few weeks ago, for instance, Apple filed a motion wherein it claimed that Google's search methodology with respect to the discovery process was flawed. Apple offered to "work cooperatively with Google to correct these flaws," a plan Google said would place an "undue burden" upon it. Google further argued that as a third party to Apple and Samsung's litigation, the applicable standard for what constitutes an "undue burden" should be much lower.

Apple took umbrage with Google's characterization of itself as a third party, noting in its brief:

Characterizing Google as merely a "third party" fails to capture the full extent of Google's involvement and collaboration with Samsung regarding the subject matter of this lawsuit. Google developed Android, which is used in the accused Samsung products and provides much of the accused functionality. Google and Samsung jointly developed the Galaxy Nexus, which is one of the accused products. Indeed, unlike every other third party in this case, Google affirmatively chose to involve itself in this litigation by providing declarations from its engineers to support Samsung's positions during the preliminary injunction phase of the case. Finally, in connection with Apple's Subpoenas, Google retained the law firm representing Samsung in this case, and used the same lawyers [Quinn Emanuel] representing Samsung within that law firm. In addition, both Google and Samsung have repeatedly resorted to claims of a "common interest privilege" in refusing to produce documents in this case. As a result, it simply strains credibility for Google to now assert that it should be viewed as a neutral third party. Google is providing material support to Samsung regarding the subject matter of this case; asking it to now provide basic information regarding its document production process is not unduly burdensome.

Lastly, Apple has no objection to the other parties seeking to jointly file an amicus curiae brief, a grouping which includes HTC, SAP and Rackspace.

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