In a surprising maneuver, Apple has told the International Trade Commission that Android creator Andy Rubin was first inspired for the Android application framework while working as an engineer at Apple, reports FOSS Patents.
The statement came in the latest reply to the ITC as part of Apple’s first complaint against Android phone maker HTC. As an argument, it’s a bit of a doozy, since it states plainly that Android’s roots can be traced all the way back to Apple in the early ’90s. And as FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller points out, it could have stunning legal implications for future Apple suits against Google over Android, or against soon to be Google-owned Motorola Mobility.
Apple writes in its reply to the ITC:
Android and Mr. Rubin’s relevant background does not start, as HTC would like the Commission to believe, with his work at General Magic or Danger in the mid-1990s. In reality, as the evidence revealed at the hearing, Mr. Rubin began his career at Apple in the early 1990s and worked as a low-level engineer specifically reporting to the inventors of the ’263 [realtime API] patent at the exact time their invention was being conceived and developed.
The patent, U.S. No. 6,343, 263, refers to a “real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data”, or in other words, a software API. It was filed back in 1994, more than a decade before modern smartphone software was a reality. Now Apple is asserting that Rubin worked right under the people who filed that patent.
Mueller points out that in the HTC investigation, Rubin’s work at Apple has little impact since he’s never worked for HTC. But should Apple wage legal war against Google directly, Rubin’s history could end up serving as a major hindrance.