Andy Rubin, the former CEO of Android Inc. and now senior vice president of Google Mobile, is in the hot seat of the pending lawsuits against HTC. According to a Foss Patent blog post by Florian Mueller, Rubin worked as a low-level engineer at Apple long before his Android days.
While at Apple in the early 1990s, Rubin reported to an engineer who developed the “263 realtime API patent,” which is part of the patent infringement case Apple has brought against both HTC and Motorola. Apple may be able to prove that Rubin developed some of the framework for Android from what he learned while working at Apple.
But this could get bigger than just the Android device makers such as HTC. Apple could go after Google because of Rubin’s role in the company. If this were to happen, Apple could seek an injunction against all Android devices, instead of going after the individual device manufacturers.
All this is in conjunction with Rubin’s involvement with another willful patent infringement, which involves Oracle suing Google over a Java license.
Mueller highlighted an interesting point concerning patent and competition laws:
If Apple sought an injunction against Google, I’m sure Google would argue that this is anticompetitive. But competition law can trump patent law only under certain circumstances. If a former employee of a company is found by a court to have stolen a former employer’s intellectual property, it’s much less likely than otherwise that the right holder would be required to tolerate continued infringement.
If this statement holds true, and both Apple and Oracle win their lawsuits against Google, it could be a tough road ahead for Android.