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Apple's patent victory could equal faster Android updates

The recent court battle may be a big win for Apple, but could prove to be a small score for some Android users.

Samsung Epic 4G Touch (Sprint)
The Samsung Epic 4G Touch is one handset in Apple's cross-hairs.

Android users might find themselves benefiting from an unintended consequence of Apple's recent patent battle against Samsung.

Older versions of Android (2.x) that were found to infringe upon Apple's intellectual property might get around the ban with an update to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, points out 9to5Google.

This would specifically sidestep patent issues for Samsung's Nexus S and its "Pure Google" experience, one of eight models in Apple's cross-hairs.

On the surface, it sounds as if Google and its partners will want to get Android 4.1 deployed to as many devices as possible. It sounds simple: update Android, avoid litigation. On the contrary, it isn't quite clear what action would circumvent the patent. We'll have to wait for the situation to shake out, but it could be just a tiny change here or a small tweak there.

Some readers may recall the similar issues that HTC ran into back in May when the Evo 4G LTE and HTC One X were held up at U.S. Customs.

Rather than completely update the smartphone with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, HTC was able to work around the problems with new "app associations" settings screen for setting defaults for things like e-mail and maps. It didn't take that long for HTC and its carrier partners to get things back on track, essentially wrapping up within a few weeks.

Assuming all Android 2.x devices are infringing on Apple's territory, we could soon see a slew of Android updates that are either ahead of schedule or were never intended for the older handsets. Whether in the form of a minor tweak or a full-on Jelly Bean upgrade, Android users might want to keep an eye on their notification bars.