Amid the smartphone patent wars, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has typically shied away from targeting Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) directly, instead opting to drag rival Android OEMs to court. The most prominent case is none other than Samsung, for which Apple initially scored a $1 billion victory that's since been scaled back and remains up in the air until November.
Earlier this month, Apple set its sights on Google for the first time, albeit indirectly as a third party to its Samsung battle. Siding with Apple, courts ordered Google to hand over certain search terms used in Android's documentation. Google had argued that complying would be an "undue burden." U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal called out the irony of the search giant saying it would be too much trouble to produce search data.
Apple is now going after Google in another way: Google Now. Again, this is all taking place within the broader Samsung suit, according to FOSS Patents. Among other features, Apple is now arguing that Now infringes on two of the Mac maker's patents related to Siri and unified search.
The oddest part about the addition of Google Now to the ongoing patent infringement lawsuit is that Apple just cleared Google Now for takeoff within its own iOS App Store.
The virtual assistant feature, which many consider to be superior to Siri, was included as an update to Google's iOS search app, and as such was subject to the standard approval process that all apps face. It's not like Google just slipped this in without Apple knowing. Apple undoubtedly scrutinizes Google's submissions to a greater extent than other developers, plus it was all over the news that Google was preparing to bring Now to iOS. Google Now landed on iOS less than a month ago.
Adding Now to the Samsung suit underscores Apple's strategy with the patent battles. Apple is attempting to obtain preliminary injunctions against competing devices that infringe on its IP, while it has no problem allowing the exact same features run on its own devices. Competition aside, the presence of Google's vast array of popular services like Google Maps makes the iPhone better.
This all implies that an iPhone running Google Now would infringe on Apple's own patents, though I don't think Apple will be seeking iPhone injunctions any time soon.
Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.