Is Google Inc. (GOOG) Being Passive-Aggressive vs. Apple?

Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) have been mired in an ever-increasing rivalry that has started to permeate their tech relationship to the point that Apple is not inviting Google back into its ecosystem with the iOS 6 and the iPhone 5 when it dumped Google Maps and other services from its new operating system in exchange for its own proprietary systems. And it’s mainly because Google is directly competing with Apple in the smartphone market with its Android operating system.

The Next Battleground for Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google Inc (GOOG)?

So what is Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) doing in response? Sitting behind the scenes, supposedly. But to think that Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) would actually try to play Switzerland in the smartphone patent battle between Android partner Samsung Corporation and iOS rival Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), is just silly. According to one report, Google is very, very involved in the case, without having a legal dog in the fight.

Or does it? Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has been involved in each case involving its Android partners – HTC Corporation, Samsung Corporation and Motorola Solutions Inc. (NYSE:MSI) in various patent and copyright battles. In fact, Google asked, on HTC’s behalf, the International Trade Commission to get involved in a patent dispute with Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK), which is a Windows Phone partner of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). Not only has Google offered to do legwork and give legal advice, but Quinn Emanuel, Google’s law firm of choice, is representing each of the aforementioned Android partners in their various litigation battles.

While Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has barely been mentioned in the Samsung Corporation trial against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), it has been heavily involved in the case in the fight for the viability of the Android system. With no proprietary Google smartphone on the immediate horizon, Google has a lot riding on its partners being successful in their fights against Apple. If Google’s partners lose, the Android OS will be severely compromised.

But if it’s so important, why isn’t Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) taking on Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) directly? It would rather put pieces of its Android empire up against the tech giant, rather than betting all of its chips on one courtroom hand of Texas Hold ‘Em.

“Google will want to stay away from this trial as much as possible,” said Neil Shah, an analyst at Strategy Analytics about the Samsung litigation. “They don’t want to directly confront Apple.”

Whoops. Seems it already is.