Android has long been the target of many lawsuits from large patent holding companies, especially Apple. As a Google owned patent for the notification bar as we know it, filed for in 2009, nears a possible approval, the tables may finally be turned.
When it comes to features, Google’s Android is ahead of, or on par with, every mobile operating system available today. But there’s one area where Android’s severely lacking: patents. Google released an operating system without owning any patents on a lot of the key technologies used to make it function. If Android would have never taken off, this probably wouldn’t be a problem. Instead, as Android has become a success, it’s become the target for what is arguably the most powerful company in the technology industry, Apple.
Lawsuit after lawsuit from Apple has left Android and the manufacturers using the platform trying their best to fight back. If a patent on Android’s notification bar is approved any time soon, Apple may be the one fighting back next.
In 2009, Google filed a patent for Android’s notification bar. If you’ve used iOS 5 or know anything about Apple’s “Notification Center,” you know that it’s a direct, blatant rip off of Android’s notification bar. According to the filing, Google would own the patent for “a computer-implemented user notification method includes displaying, in a status area near a perimeter of a graphical interface, a notification of a recent alert event for a mobile device, receiving a user selection in the status area, and in response to the receipt of the user selection, displaying, in a central zone of the graphical interface, detail regarding a plurality of recent messaging events for the mobile device.”
Since Google doesn’t own the patent to the notification bar yet, they can’t do anything but sit back and watch Apple use it in all of their most popular devices. Even the latest version of the Mac’s operating system, OS X 10.8, uses Notification Center. If Google’s patent application for Android’s notification bar is approved, there’s little to reason to believe it wouldn’t be an easy victory for Google, should they decide to take Apple to court over it.
It will be interesting to see what Google does with the patent should they manage to secure it. Will they immediately take Apple to court, or would using it as leverage in other patent negotiations make more sense? This will definitely be worth keeping an eye on.