Android Jelly Bean in Apple's patent crosshairs

Apple wants to add Google's Android 4.1 Jelly Bean mobile OS to its ongoing patent infringement lawsuit against Samsung currently under way in U.S. District Court in Northern California.

“Apple seeks to explicitly include within its contentions the Jelly Bean operating system that has been incrementally released for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus from July 2012 through September 2012,” the company said in a court document filed Tuesday amending its complaint.

In the same request, Apple also asked to add the recently released Galaxy Note 10.1.

Apple had previously said it intended to add Jelly Bean to its complaint. Samsung has also added to its counter suit against Apple by claiming the iPhone 5 infringes its patents.

Apple in August won a significant victory in a separate patent dispute against Samsung with the court awarding the iOS maker $1.05 billion in damages.

[RELATED: Apple seeks additional $707 million from Samsung in patent win ]

Apple v. Google?

Apple has already sued several Android device makers besides Samsung including HTC and Google-owned Motorola. But the iOS-Android patent war has yet to result in a direct U.S. court battle between Apple and Google, and it's not clear when or if that will ever happen.

Intellectual property analyst and blogger Florian Mueller told TechHive it's possible that Apple could one day sue Google directly; however, Muller says it's more efficient under U.S. law for Apple to sue device makers than to go after the search giant.

“In order to prove harm [during a lawsuit against Google], Apple would have to show actual infringing devices anyway,” Mueller said. “And if Apple then showed, for example, a Samsung device, it would effectively throw down the gauntlet to Samsung.”

More importantly, according to Mueller, suing device makers makes it much easier for Apple to collect damages and obtain injunctions against specific devices. “No one is afraid of suing Google, whose patent portfolio is still relatively weak,” he said. “It's all just a question of practical litigation considerations.”

So while Apple has included Jelly Bean in its latest complaint against Samsung it's not clear if Apple hopes to use a potential win to pursue direct legal action against Google.

Speculation has been fervent about Apple's ultimate goal in its lawsuits against Android device makers ever since biographer Walter Isaacson quoted Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs as saying he wanted to “ destroy Android, because it's a stolen product.”

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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