The Android patent war has a new front in the form of a lawsuit against South Korean manufacturing titans LG and Samsung. The two firms, plus a California company called Interwoven, are being sued by multinational software developer Vertical Computer Systems, Inc, which accuses them of violating a pair of patents covering a “system and method for generating websites in an arbitrary object framework.” The second of the two patents is said to be a continuation of the first, adding 32 new claims to the original 53. Vertical specifically cites LG’s Ally and Samsung’s i500, Galaxy Tab, and four out of the five US Galaxy S variants (only the T-Mobile Vibrant is curiously absent) as the offending devices.
According to Foss Patents, Vertical eventually won a 2007 suit against Microsoft concerning the same intellectual property, reportedly squeezing a $1.5 million settlement out of the software giant. In an SEC filing following that payout, Vertical revealed that it was essentially waiting on the second, continuation patent to be approved so that it could begin more aggressive enforcement.
Samsung and LG are only the latest parties to get dragged into this escalating patent battle: Google, Microsoft, Apple, Motorola, and HTC are all in the midst of similar suits that threaten to not just raise the cost of Android handsets due to increased licensing fees, but potentially disrupt supplies altogether as the plaintiffs in these cases seek sales injunctions. Now that the critics of fragmentation have been somewhat silenced by Google’s assertion that over 75% of existing handsets now run Android 2.1 or higher, it’s quite possible that these patent skirmishes will become the platform’s next big public challenge.