On the other hand, if the phone manufacturers did not distribute the software at all, but rather required you to run a piece of software that downloads and installs the OS directly from Google, it would likely absolve them. I think that's what the GP was trying to get at. Or maybe not. Hard to say. My interpretation was that they were looking for a way to shift the patent suits to Google (where they belong) instead of to a mere distributor.
Actually, this is one thing that bothers me about patent law. I'm of the opinion that one tiny change would make it much, much better: require that any lawsuit over patent infringement must first occur with the first party in the supply chain that ostensibly infringed the patent. In this case, it would be Google. In the case of commercial codec licensing, it would be the manufacturer of the video gear that did not pay a commercial use licensing fee, but who should reasonably have known when they sold the product to you that it would be used commercially. In the case of a chip vendor suing a product vendor for using their patented technology, that product vendor could simply point up the chain and say, "You have to sue the chip vendor that provided us with those parts first." And so on.
Require a judgment for each vendor in the chain prior to filing suit against the next vendor, and make it grounds for dismissal of the case (with prejudice for repeat offenders) if this rule is not followed. Finally, make it such that if the previous case did not find in favor of the plaintiff, the plaintiff must prove that the primary reason for that loss was that the earlier vendor could not have been aware that the later vendor was going to use the product in an infringing way.
I'd be all for this solution where I get to buy the hardware and then I get to compile the Android source myself including any restricted extras I want instead of the vendor crapping it up, all I'd need is the hardware vendor to actually provide the drivers.
I don't see how it isn't a win-win for everyone and all you would nee for non tech people is the USB cable in the box, an active internet connection requirement to get the source from Google then finally a simple self compiler script with the only options of "next" then "finish".
Too bad this will never happen.