Google backs Samsung in patent war with Apple

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Sept 27, 2012 - 20:38
  • Updated : Sept 27, 2012 - 20:38
Firm’s new Nexus 7 to roll out in Korea Friday

Google Inc.’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt sided with Samsung Electronics in its ongoing global patent war with Apple when he expressed concerns about restriction of innovation and choice.

“I think one of the worst things that have happened in the last few years has been the belief that somehow … one vendor could stop the sale of another vendor’s phones and devices. Literally prevent choice, prevent innovation,” he said in a press conference held in southern Seoul.

“The last thing we want is innovation being stopped, significant products being stopped.”

Schmidt’s statement indicates that Google’s official stance over the controversial Samsung-Apple patent dispute has somewhat changed since last month.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt gestures during a launching ceremony for the company’s first tablet Nexus 7 in southern Seoul on Thursday. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

The U.S.-based software giant had then tried to draw the line between itself and its major customer Samsung by releasing an official statement which said most of the discussed patent infringement claims don’t relate to the core Android operating system.

With such moves being detected, Samsung hinted it may shift further towards its multi-mobile-platform strategy and give more weight to other mobile operating systems like the upcoming Tizen.

Samsung’s multi-OS strategy deals a blow to Google since the Korean handset maker is the top customer for its Android software.

“We’re obviously working through that and (will) try to make sure we stay on the right side of all of these issues,” Schmidt told reporters. “Ultimately, we will answer ‘innovation’ as opposed to ‘capitalist.’ ”

He also said “there’s plenty of prior art” in terms of Apple’s patents, while not going into the specific details.

Schmidt’s visit to Seoul, which was arranged to announce the roll-out of its “Nexus 7” tablet PC here, takes place less than a year since his last visit to Korea in November.

With meetings scheduled with major vendors, Schmidt engaged in a talk with Choi Gee-sung, head of Samsung Group’s corporate strategy office, and Samsung Electronics’ mobile chief Shin Jong-kyun. Google’s Andy Rubin also joined the meeting that lasted up to 80 minutes at Samsung’s office in southern Seoul.

“We had a good discussion, we’re good partners but I can’t go into any more details,” said Rubin following the meeting.

Schmidt did not respond to any of the questions.

The discussion is expected to have centered on their partnership in Google’s next lineup of Nexus 7 devices and likely to have touched on the topic involving their future cooperation in the patent battle against Apple in the U.S.

The new 7-inch Nexus 7 with a 16-gigabyte hard drive, built in cooperation with Asus, will be available at the online and on-site stores of Lotte Mart and Hi-Mart, priced at 299,000 won.

By Cho Ji-hyun (