Google Claims Blocking Skyhook on Android is Legal

Posted by at 2:24 pm on May 19, 2011

Google in a court filing late last week denied doing anything illegal as a response to Skyhook’s lawsuit. Lawyers argued that the decision to force Skyhook out of Android were just a “lawful exercise of legitimate rights.” The Android creator rebuffed ideas that it had damaged Skyhook’s finances at all but said that any impact would have been the mobile location tracker’s own fault.

The legitimacy of the claim hasn’t been completely clear since published e-mails revealed some of Google’s motivations. Skyhook made changes to its location system to accommodate requests from Google and may have been the victim of Motorola not passing those changes on to Google before it was rejected. Privately, however, Google was worried Skyhook would reduce the amount of data going to its Wi-Fi location database and admitted that it wanted to use compatibility arguments as a “club” to make Android phone makers follow Google’s own goals.

Google may also have contradicted itself. It claimed in the filing that accusations its Android VP Andy Rubin ordered Motorola to stop shipping were “so incomplete and misleading as to be false,” but e-mail from the trial has revealed Rubin ordering a “stop ship” for both Motorola and Samsung that delayed the Droid X and most shipments of the Galaxy S.

The trial has drawn attention to Google’s assertions of openness. Although it regularly attaches the word to Android, certain parts of the OS have regularly been off-limits. It also rarely takes inputs from outside developers for its source code and has effectively skipped offering Android 3.0 source code altogether, instead opting to wait until the upcoming Ice Cream Sandwich release in the fall.

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