Android vendors have been hit hard by lawsuit after lawsuit from competitors. But in a show of strength, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said today in Taiwan that his company will stand by those firms in any lawsuit.
"We tell our partners, including the ones here in Taiwan, we will support them," Schmidt told reporters today, according to Reuters. "For example, we have been supporting HTC in its dispute with Apple because we think that the Apple thing is not correct."
HTC's troubles with Apple started last year when the iPhone maker filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission, arguing HTC's device violates 20 of its patents.
"We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it," Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said in a statement at the time. "We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."
In response, HTC fired back with several lawsuits of its own against Apple, arguing that the iPhone violated patents it held. In September, HTC upped the ante a bit by suing Apple using patents it received from Google.
Although Schmidt argues that his company has stood by Android vendors, HTC's lawsuit using Google patents was arguably the first major step the search giant took to help its partners. Previously, Google had taken a backseat to the lawsuits, possibly for fear of getting embroiled in a head-to-head court battle with Apple. That fear was stripped away earlier this year, however, after Google announced plans to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. The deal is designed to provide Google with the patent protection the company so desperately needs through Motorola's intellectual property.
But HTC isn't the only company facing trouble. Currently, Apple is suing Motorola Mobility and Samsung for patent infringement. Microsoft has taken aim at Barnes & Noble, and inked several licensing deals with other Android vendors. Even Google is being sued by Oracle over claims that Android violates Java-related patents.
So, what should Android vendors expect from Google? According to Reuters, Schmidt said his company is ready and willing to provide information, industry expertise, and Google patents to help its partners.
But even with all that protection, Google shouldn't expect Apple, especially, to go away. In Walter Isaacson's authorized Steve Jobs biography, the Apple co-founder said that he was willing to wage war to take down Android, and considering his influence at the company, it's not a stretch to believe its top management agrees.
"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong," Jobs told his biographer. "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."