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Google Android Patents The Courts Your Rights Online

Are Google's Patents Too Weak To Protect Android? 257

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the notes-from-dad dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Guardian published an opinion piece written by former-NoSoftwarePatents-activist-turned-controversial-patent-blogger Florian Mueller. He lists 12 patent lawsuits instigated against Android last year, says there are many more to come, and believes that Google's portfolio of only 576 US patents is dwarved by those of Apple, Microsoft, Oracle and others. So Google can't retaliate against aggressors such as Oracle. Consequently — he argues — Android makers will have to remove functionality or pay high license fees, and the operating system will become unprofitable for handset makers. Even the app ecosystem could suffer, he says. Since Google received only 282 new US patents in 2010, the gap between Google's portfolio and those of its competitors is widening further: Apple produces about twice as many, and Microsoft gets more than 3,000 new ones a year. Let's discuss this: is Android really in for so much trouble? Can't Google find other ways (than owning many patents) to defend it than countersuing? How about its vast financial resources?"
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Are Google's Patents Too Weak To Protect Android?

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  • Hmmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Desler (1608317) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:34AM (#34939236)

    How much does anyone want to bet that this supposed "anonymous reader" is Florian himself?

    • by KiloByte (825081)

      Many more than just him are fed up with the patent nonsense.

      I for one don't do anything but kvetch, but then, it's not like submitting a /. story is much more work. And the article (judging by the blurb, of course) seems to be pretty interesting.

  • Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khallow (566160) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:41AM (#34939332)
    What makes almost 600 patents too small a number? It sounds to me like a few effective, relevant patents are better than a hoard of patents most which are completely unrelated and exist only because nobody yet has the incentive to contest the patents. The author claims that Google needs more raw patents, but I don't see the case for it.
    • Re:Or... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khallow (566160) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:45AM (#34939392)
      I also can't help but notice that only 3 lawsuits involve Google. A lot of these other affected businesses have their own patent portfolios. So why only count Google's patents in a lawsuit that involves Motorola, but not Google? Shouldn't we instead consider Motorola's patents not Google's?
    • SuperPatent (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:53AM (#34939488) Journal

      These articles bother me. Google called a couple of colleagues and asked "Hey, how many patents you got?" They got the answers back, and still decided "No problem. Let's go make a mobile OS."

      One month's work by a Chief Strategist has already dealt with this ages ago. These articles are like stones chewing up open spots on the bloGOsphere. Just put an article down, and now it's there. Some combination of them "decides" the "mood of the consumers".

      Articles speculating about someone sinking Android are trying to block the key points in a Life-Or-Death problem for Google. They're trying to create negative self fulfilling prophecies.

    • I think a related question is what is the value-per-patent?

      Microsoft might be getting tons of patents, but if most of them are about web-enabled toilets that send alerts when not flushed or other stupid technologies then maybe Google is ahead.

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      Quality vs. Quantitity.

      Some companies file lots of patents, many of which are VERY specific or just plain weak, in order to have "my stack is bigger than yours" bragging rights, and also for PR purposes. It seems to have succeeded in this case.

      Someone I know used to work for a company that had a HUGE patent stack. Some were very strong and made the company quite a lot of money, but many were for PR/"my stack is bigger than yours" purposes. They had a patent rating system for applications, from 1 (busines

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "Quantitity"

        What's on your mind, exactly?

      • On strong, broad patent is far more valuable than 100 weak, easily avoidable, narrow patents.

        Not true at all. It's much easier to make your opponents defense much harder if you just barrage them with a flurry of patents rather than just a singular one.

      • On strong, broad patent is far more valuable than 100 weak, easily avoidable, narrow patents.

        And much more easily invalidated as well, especially in my industry (chemistry). So many times there's absolutely no "novelty" attributable to these wide patents, they're basically useless.

    • by Motard (1553251)

      What makes almost 600 patents too small a number?

      I think the point is that if Google had a large number of relevant patents - enough that Microsoft might drool over them - then Microsoft would be inclined to enter into a cross licensing agreement as they have with Apple. Without that option, it's better for Microsoft pursue licensing fees or just protect its intellectual property.

      Personally, I think MS and Apple are more interested in creating FUD in the Android market than anything else, so the point may be moot. But if Google had a large patent portfo

    • by RMH101 (636144)
      On top of this, if provoked far enough who's to say that the big G won't push GDocs to compete with Office 365, or put its might behind an open source database to aim at cannibalising SQL sales etc?
      • On top of this, if provoked far enough who's to say that the big G won't push GDocs to compete with Office 365,

        They already do push that.

        or put its might behind an open source database to aim at cannibalising SQL sales etc?

        Google already sponsors development on both MySQL and PostgresSQL.

    • by JAlexoi (1085785)
      And to mention, if they attack anything that is Linux about android, they are going to have The whole OpenInventionNetwork on their asses! IBM is there BTW. And we all know that IBM can crush just about anyone with patents....
  • Let me think.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:41AM (#34939336)

    Android runs on... oh... ...Samsung phones and ...Sony-Ericson phones and ...creative device and ...sharp devices and ...benq devices and ...motorola devices ...NEC devices ...LG devices.

    If these conpanies put together a paten pool to protect android, then its enough to sue Apple and Microsoft together to Hell and back (not to mention Oracle is not goiung to make these customers angry). All of the companies sold mobile devices long before Apple thought about it. Even Nokia should fear such a consortium when it comes to patents regarding mobile devices.

    • by alta (1263)

      Let me think...

      MOST of those companies also have devices that run some microsoft OS, or plans for one....
      Maybe not Nokia...

      Argument Fail.

      • by drolli (522659)

        And? Explain how being prospective customers for Microsoft, who are desperate to push their OS into the mobile market weakens their position?

    • Also, I guess most of these patents are invalid outside the USA. While it is big market for personal computers, it is not so big market for mobile phones (10%). Maybe Google can even use chinese-search-engine tacticts: let customers suffer in one region for their own stupid laws.
    • by fermion (181285) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @12:15PM (#34940472) Homepage Journal
      To me the devices are separate from the software stack. As of now, the only company that has 'bet the farm' on android is HTC and Google. Consider also that though Android is gaining rapid market share, and Apple is seen as a carrier friendly firm, Verizon still wanted the iPhone. Also consider that Google and OHC does require significant compliance with OHC rules, and consumers expect closed Google apps, which has allowed Google to attack those who tried to build a phone without it's consent.

      Which is simply to say that it is unclear whether anyone other than HTC is 100% committed to Android as the primary stack. I think it is also instructive to note that HTC at one time was a developer of MS phones. It may be that the best way for MS to gain market share is to scare phone makes into not using Android.

      It is a complicated relationship. Apple is being sued because it is not part of the club, and entered successfully into a market it is not wanted. The lack of phone experience meant it likely did step on some patents. Google is being sued because in it's arrogance it tried to do OSS independently, not using existing tech and experience. In the search market, which was immature, that was fine. But in the mature phone market, with an old incumbency, MS included, Google and Apple as upstarts are trouble.

      • HTC currently makes a few different Windows Phone 7 devices. I'd really say the only manufacturer that's betting hard on Android is Motorola.
  • Well.. (Score:5, Informative)

    by iserlohn (49556) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:41AM (#34939340) Homepage

    It's not the number of patents, but the likelihood of a patent being actionable, and/or enforcible.

    In any case, if there is a court judgement that sufficiently harms innovation because of the escalating war in software patents, you will be sure that there will be a change in the direction in jurisprudence with regards to these "soft" patents. You have to remember that most of hte world don't have software patents, and many places (like Europe) would like to keep it that way.

    • by crush (19364)
      True. And also the money to pay for any ensuing legal costs. Patents are virtually useless except as a weapon for large companies.
  • So according to the article, nearly half Google's patents (282 of 576) were granted in 2010... that's quite a change in attitude towards patents at Google then if they are suddenly getting so many!

  • by zero.kalvin (1231372) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:42AM (#34939356)
    So what ? I have 4 limbs, but I can certainly kill a spider with 8. It all depends on the essence of the patents themselves. What do they cover, are they very broad ? Are they specific ? etc etc...
    • You are significantly larger than any spider.

      Come back with another analogy for when the spider has eyes the size of your face.
      • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @01:02PM (#34941196)

        You are significantly larger than any spider.

        And, taken together, the companies that own Android -- the Open Handset Alliance (13 mobile operators, 20 handset manufacturers, 20 semiconductor companies, 16 software [the use of this term seems to include online services] companies including Google, and 10 commercialization companies) -- are significantly larger than any likely challenger to Android.

        There is a reason that Google organized the OHA and transferred Android to it immediately after they purchased Android.

  • Google resources (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CodeShark (17400) <<ellsworthpc> <at> <yahoo.com>> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:43AM (#34939364) Homepage
    Actually I would like to suggest that Google's main approach and threat would be to counter the whole software is patentable paradigm in ways that the big three (Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle) will not want to defend against. Plus the likely scenario that IBM would rather see Google succeed than the other three, and their patent portfolio in the form of prior art assistance to Google would change the game entirely, or the fact that Google is likely to code around any patents more quickly than any trial can move forward. So I think that trying to take Google and Android down via patents is a losing proposition.

    Plus the Google ecosystem can effectively fight off alot of threats simply by the fact that they are have no obligation to play nice when it comes to search engine trafficking/optimization and/or investments.

    For example, picture what happens if Google puts resources into Postgres, MariaDB, or any of the other major database platforms that would cut into the profitability of Oracle or Microsoft. Or takes up the banner of Open Office to free it from the clutches of Sun, further weakening Microsoft profit margins. What people are learning is that Google at least so far tends to be a very worthy adversary. So far we also like Google more than the billionaires clubs as run by Gates and Ellison.
    • Plus the likely scenario that IBM would rather see Google succeed than the other three, and their patent portfolio in the form of prior art assistance to Google would change the game entirely

      No bones to pick with the rest of your post, but I'd like to point out that patents - being published - are prior art already. You don't need the assistance of the patent owner.

    • So far we also like Google more than the billionaires clubs as run by Gates and Ellison.

      Yeah, because Sergey, Larry and Eric are just paupers. It's not like they are billionaires too or anything. Oh wait...

      • by mcvos (645701)

        It's not so much about how much money they have, but what they do with it. Google does much nicer things with their money than Oracle.

    • I agree with the rest of your post.
      But Oracle now owns Sun, but Google could throw in with Libre Office. The problem with that it would compete with their cloud office suite.

      But basically Google could increase market share by paying phone providers to use Android. If they had enough market share and did whatever it took to keep people happy, then Microsoft, Apple and Oracle could be perceived as evil for taking away snowflakes neat PDA.

      This isn't like the argument for patents on business operating s
    • Actually I would like to suggest that Google's main approach and threat would be to counter the whole software is patentable paradigm in ways that the big three (Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle) will not want to defend against.

      I would like to suggest that Google's main approach would be to counter the threat by assuring that Android, instead of being owned by Google, is owned by a "alliance" of companies that include people with, collectively, lots more patents than Google alone.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @10:45AM (#34939398) Homepage

    Hasn't anyone noticed? Over the past few years, the rate in which software patents result in legal action has increased dramatically. Where previously "non-aggression agreements" were the norm and the nuclear patent arms race was all about deterrence. Starting with patent trolls (some of which were owned and/or controlled by big players in the background) testing the waters by filing suits to extract money from others and being successful, the big players themselves are now feeling increasingly comfortable with the idea of nuclear patent assaults.

    I think it would be a rather nice gesture if Google were to enlist a large partnership for the purpose of having ALL software patents revoked. Software is simply not worthy of patent protection. What's more, the rate in which software changes and evolves makes the term of software patents highly inappropriate -- entire markets for software can rise and fall before a patent associated with it can expire making a software patent "life long" rather than the temporary monopoly in exchange for disclosure. In fact, the fact that software source code for a software patent is not a requirement should also make software patents invalid as this is necessary for disclosure of the "invention's details."

    Google should simply work to kill all software patents in the U.S. to protect themselves but also to bring peace to the land.

    • Hasn't anyone noticed? Over the past few years, the rate in which software patents result in legal action has increased dramatically. Where previously "non-aggression agreements" were the norm and the nuclear patent arms race was all about deterrence. Starting with patent trolls (some of which were owned and/or controlled by big players in the background) testing the waters by filing suits to extract money from others and being successful, the big players themselves are now feeling increasingly comfortable with the idea of nuclear patent assaults.

      Well, bear in mind that the current "nuclear patent assault" over smartphones is almost certain to never see the inside of a trial court. This is about the establishment of a new patent pool, with players trying to position themselves to get a larger share of royalties. Same story has occurred in many different industries over the past hundred and fifty years.

      And that said...

      Software is simply not worthy of patent protection.

      Why not? How is software unlike any other industry? If you're going to go on that old exception about algorithms and "all software

      • by Dachannien (617929) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @11:44AM (#34940112)

        If you're going to go on that old exception about algorithms and "all software is math," then that argument has lost many times and is unlikely to ever succeed.

        It succeeded in part in In re Abele. It also succeeded in cases focused more on formalistic hoops, like In re Warmerdam or In re Lowry, and we never did find out whether Beauregard claims would pass judicial muster. SCOTUS avoided the question in Bilski v. Kappos, and AFAIK, has yet to address the question directly.

      • Why not? How is software unlike any other industry? If you're going to go on that old exception about algorithms and "all software is math," then that argument has lost many times and is unlikely to ever succeed. You're going to need a really good policy argument to explain why we should strip IP protection from a multi-trillion dollar industry, particularly in this economy.
        B/c simply adding the phrase w/ a database or on the internet to existing activities is not novel ergo not worthy of patent protectio
        • B/c simply adding the phrase w/ a database or on the internet to existing activities is not novel ergo not worthy of patent protection.

          Yeah, thing is, no patent actually claims that just that is worthy of patent protection. You're confused and looking at some of the dependent claims.

          There is a doctrine called "claim differentiation," which is based on the fact that each claim in a patent is claiming a different scope. So, if claim 1 says, "A method for X, comprising blah blah blah blah, via a network," and claim 2 says, "the method of claim 1, wherein the network is the internet," that doesn't mean that they're claiming to have patented t

      • by icebraining (1313345) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @11:49AM (#34940178) Homepage

        How is software unlike any other industry?

        * Extremely low barrier of entry. When you can essentially develop a product for free, filling a patent is often unfordable. Hence, they benefit large established players against small competitors - especially those who don't seek a commercial gain (see multiple Open Source projects)

        * Fast paced development. For many industries, 20 years is a limited period of time. For software, it's an eternity. Patents are supposed to convince inventors to open up their inventions in exchange for a limited monopoly. 20 years from now, how will the H.264 patents benefit society?

        * Patents are not a inalienable right - they're a right designed to promote innovation. Anyone who knows the software industry knows its completely absurd to say that patents are a condition for innovation.

        "If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today."

        --Bill Gates (1991)

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Theaetetus (590071)

          How is software unlike any other industry?

          * Extremely low barrier of entry. When you can essentially develop a product for free, filling a patent is often unfordable. Hence, they benefit large established players against small competitors - especially those who don't seek a commercial gain (see multiple Open Source projects)

          Small electronics also have an extremely low barrier of entry. Should they also be unpatentable as a field?

          Additionally, I think a blanket judgement that all software development has an extremely low barrier of entry is a bit broad. There's a lot of money that gets spent on software development - is your position that it's all wasted, since you could essentially accomplish the same for free?

          And finally, there's no requirement that someone get a patent, and since the patent system is supposed to encourage

          • by icebraining (1313345) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @01:16PM (#34941420) Homepage

            Small electronics also have an extremely low barrier of entry. Should they also be unpatentable as a field?

            Compared to 'free', it's damn high.

            Additionally, I think a blanket judgement that all software development has an extremely low barrier of entry is a bit broad. There's a lot of money that gets spent on software development - is your position that it's all wasted, since you could essentially accomplish the same for free?

            Dumping money into a project merely accelerates it - it's not a barrier to entry. And that acceleration provides the advantage you need - reaching the market sooner. There's no need for patents.

            And finally, there's no requirement that someone get a patent, and since the patent system is supposed to encourage public disclosure as opposed to keeping trade secrets, it's really irrelevant to open source.

            Except that many patents are 1) bad (too broad, for example) or 2) have prior art, and OSS projects don't have the funds to fight them.

            But for many other industries, 20 years is an eternity. But no one's calling for the abolishment of patents on, say, dermatological products, or nanotechnology. In fact, while 20 years may be a short time in mature industries, when those same industries were young, development was very fast.

            Maybe they shouldn't. That's not really an argument for patents.

            The Wright Brothers made their first powered flights in 1904. 7 years later, there were dozens of different types of planes of myriad designs in operation in WWI. But no one was calling for the abolishment of patents on airplanes.

            Are you kidding?

            The creation of the Manufacturer's Aircraft Association was
            crucial to the U.S. government because the two major patent holders, the
            Wright Company and the Curtiss Company, had effectively blocked the building
            of any new airplanes
            , which were desperately needed as the United States was
            entering World War I.

            http://www.essentialdrugs.org/edrug/archive/200203/msg00040.php
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wright_brothers_patent_war#Patent_war [wikipedia.org]

            Yes, lots of people did. And it was extremely prejudicial to the industry. The only reason it wasn't more, it's because nobody respected them and the courts failed to uphold them.

            Actually, they're designed to promote efficient innovation. People innovated before patents existed: they just kept everything as a trade secret. As a result, people had to keep re-inventing the same solutions since they never got shared.

            Which is irrelevant for software, since by the time they can be used, they're already useless and have been re-invented.

            As for the claim that patents aren't needed in the software industry, because look how innovative it is... you do realize that there are software patents, right? So, it's a bit odd to claim "see how fast this industry with patent protection is developing? Therefore, it doesn't need patent protection."

            That would be true if 1) all innovative soft. companies had many patents, which is clearly not true 2) there existed no countries without software patents.

            How about the full quote? Deliberately clipping off the contradictory clause is not just misleading, it's lying.

            I'm sorry, I got it in that form. On the other hand, I don't see how it takes away from my point. Just because Microsoft specifically (which had the luck to enter the "patent market" very soon) has a solution for themselves, doesn't mean it doesn't hurt the industry as a whole, as my part of the quote says.

      • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @11:52AM (#34940226) Homepage

        Why not? How is software unlike any other industry? If you're going to go on that old exception about algorithms and "all software is math," then that argument has lost many times and is unlikely to ever succeed. You're going to need a really good policy argument to explain why we should strip IP protection from a multi-trillion dollar industry, particularly in this economy.

        Software isn't inherently undeserving of patent protection, but it is presently inappropriate to grant patents in that field.

        The purpose of patents is to encourage the invention, disclosure, and bringing to market, of patentable inventions (i.e. novel, nonobvious, useful, etc.) which otherwise would not have been invented, disclosed, and brought to market. It's an artificial subsidy, and should only be applied where it is necessary, and never where it is redundant, because there are costs involved. In most cases it's not really possible to tell, particularly on the level of a specific patent for a specific invention. However, the software industry is fabulously inventive, is very good at bringing things to market, and almost inevitably seems to involve disclosure, at least to a person having ordinary skill in the art.

        Frankly, the software industry doesn't need patents. It isn't being spurred on to greater heights of inventiveness, etc. by the availability of patents. In fact, the costs of patents (read broadly; not just the cost of getting one, but the minefield) are probably dragging it down. We'd better achieve the desired goals of the patent system if we didn't grant patents in that field. At least not for the time being. Eventually, the industry may settle down, and it would become appropriate to grant patents in the field, but that time isn't now. Business methods are the same sort of thing; patents aren't acting as a necessary incentive, and aren't doing more good than harm.

        So one of the reasons we should strip those protections is to turn a multi-trillion dollar industry into something even bigger. We don't need to chain ourselves to anchors in this economy.

        • The simple rule with patents is "would this happen without patents". Drugs simply won't happen without patents, and I suspect things like video compression improvements might not happen with it. But some of Apple's patents are just ludicrous. There's one which is little more than about making windows minimise and maximise in a pretty way, and people have been doing things about prettiness in computing without patents for decades.

      • by Tim C (15259)

        You're going to need a really good policy argument to explain why we should strip IP protection from a multi-trillion dollar industry, particularly in this economy.

        Software is covered by copyright; removing the ability to patent it would not strip the industry of IP protection.

        • You're going to need a really good policy argument to explain why we should strip IP protection from a multi-trillion dollar industry, particularly in this economy.

          Software is covered by copyright; removing the ability to patent it would not strip the industry of IP protection.

          I didn't say all IP protection. Software can also be covered by trademarks. This is because copyright, patent, and trademark law all have different scope of protection and apply to different aspects. Contrary to the "software doesn't need patents, it has copyright" crowd's belief, they do not overlap.

    • by ianare (1132971)

      While you are it, why not ask for a pony as well ?

    • by alta (1263)

      I patented the 'button' a few years back. (both hardware and software buttons) Proving no prior art was tough, but our government is easily bribed. I like Apple so I went ahead and let them in on it. That's why apple devices have so few buttons. I get $25 for each button they use.

      Anyway, lookout google... I see you're using a lot of my buttons.

  • All Google has to do is say to Oracle, or IBM, or anyone that tries to sue them for violating their ridiculous patents is this:

    "Okay. How about we de-list all of your sites from our search engine, and block all of your IP space from using our search engine, or any of our other sites, like YouTube? Oh, and we'll renegotiate all of our peering agreements, so that we don't route any traffic from your networks over our network, too."

    I mean, Google isn't *required* to index anybody's site, or offer service to an

    • by Xuranova (160813)

      i think it would could be measured in days how fast the DOJ and company respond. Given Google's large market share, making its competitors effectively 'disappear' from the internet won't sit well for them.

      i can't recall which side of the water but some regulatory agency is investigating whether Google is altering companies search rankings based on how much business they're doing with them.

      So yea threatening companies like Oracle, IBM, MS, and Apple won't get Google anywhere but under further scrutiny.

    • I think you underestimate how much that would hurt Google themselves. If Google stops returning IBM-hosted pages how fast do you think they're going to start losing users who care at all about IBM to Bing? "Search neutrality" advocates will, of course, get up in arms over this, if Google was stupid enough to block a major company's sites, but this shouldn't even make it that far, since screwing up it's search results in a way noticeable by an appreciable number of users is bad enough for Google on it's ow
    • All Google has to do is say to Oracle, or IBM, or anyone that tries to sue them for violating their ridiculous patents is this:

      "Okay. How about we de-list all of your sites from our search engine, and block all of your IP space from using our search engine, or any of our other sites, like YouTube? Oh, and we'll renegotiate all of our peering agreements, so that we don't route any traffic from your networks over our network, too."

      Yeah, and buy themselves and instant ticket to an anti-trust lawsuit? The people running Google aren't that dumb because their lawyers would be telling them the same thing.

      I mean, Google isn't *required* to index anybody's site, or offer service to anyone it doesn't want.

      What are you are and aren't allowed to do changes quite dramatically when you are the dominant player in the market. Such a move is clearly anti-competitive.

  • just because a company holds a patent doesn't automatically mean someone is infringing on something. Many patent disputes can be solved by simply changing the code. For instance, if microsoft were to patent, lets say, a protocol to create a botnet over port 80, one could simply not use port 80 to infect a machine and not include IE or ActiveX in the software stack.

    Another example would be if your product restricted users to run a handful of apps which you deem appropriate, or locked up their content in DRM,
  • That would put more parasite IP lawyers out of a job, and free up money to hire people who actually make stuff like scientists, engineers, and technicians.

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      That would put more parasite IP lawyers out of a job, and free up money to hire people who actually make stuff like scientists, engineers, and technicians.

      So long as most laws are written by lawyers, they won't be queueing up to eliminate the laws that keep them in jobs just so that non-lawyers can make actual stuff that produces actual wealth without fear of being put out of business by a patent that should never have been issued.

      • I don't have a problem with abolishing software patents -- at least until it appears that it would be more beneficial to the industry to have them, than to not have them -- but you're quite wrong about much of the rest. First, lawyers don't really care about work for other lawyers. The professional courtesy joke is just a joke. Second, there is a reason that laws tend to be written by lawyers; that's the field we work in. You'd probably want an architect to design your house, an engineer to design your brid

  • by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Thursday January 20, 2011 @11:07AM (#34939670) Journal

    The reason that Google has comparatively fewer software patents issuing every year is because there's often a massive lag behind filing a patent and having it issued. I've seen software patents that have taken as long as 6 or 7 years before it gets issued due to the amount of prosecution done on it. 6 or 7 years ago, Google was a much smaller (and newer) company with much less resources to file software patents. In comparison, the reason Apple gets 3000 patents a year is because they've been in business for over 20 years.

  • Nice patent portfolio you got there. Sure would be a shame if anything were to happen to you because of it.

  • Florian is an "interesting" character. He consistently denigrates the efforts of: Groklaw, the Open Invention Network, FSFE, Eben Moglen and now Google. Sounds to me like he's positioning himself as the loyal opposition.

    Not all patents are equal. And more importantly PATENTS ONLY BENEFIT THOSE WHO CAN AFFORD TO GO TO COURT.

    Google has a big enough warchest to take on any patent claims.
  • Now here's an interesting change of attitude on Slashdot.

    With regards to Other Companies: They have too many patents! Patents are evil! Death to the infidels! Grrr!

    With regards to Google: Do they have enough patents? Maybe they need more.

  • As they find ways to process MORE applications, and approve them at breakneck speed.

    Google may have to defend Android and other stuff by defeating patents. Somehow, for instance, I wonder if anyone has ever built a similar architecture to Android and if they did it before the Java patents were applied for. Prior art is their best defense.

    IANAL, so I can't tell if failing to defend a patent against infringment is a defense against selective prosecution. Google may be a target for several reasons, but othe

  • Apple was filing patents on handset software and hardware as far back as before 2004 at the latest and has first mover advantage.

    The question is the significance of the patents in question. Just because you get a patent doesn't mean it is so basic, that it precludes accomplishing the task another way.

    The article is not done by a rigorous patent attorney team that analyzes things in enough detail to understand significance of each patent.

  • by Qubit (100461) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @01:02PM (#34941184) Homepage Journal

    I've got to be honest here. I really liked the idea of MeeGo, but I'm almost beginning to feel embarrassed to even talk about the OS given the fact that the project was announced 9 months ago, was based on two existing OSes that were usable, and still doesn't have any handset hardware shipping with it. Heck -- as far as I know the functionality of MeeGo on the n900 isn't even up to par with Maemo.

    Anyhow, getting back to the point of this post, I wonder how the Oracle/Google kerfuffule is affecting Meego. If MeeGo were mature enough to ship on hardware, I could see a persuasive argument being made against Android. The uncertainty around the Java base of Android might convince some hardware manufacturers to try building their next toys on top of MeeGo. The problem is that I don't get the perception that we're going to see anything shipping w/MeeGo soon, and by the time that comes to pass, Google and Oracle will likely have worked out some kind of deal in mediation -- Groklaw has already noted that the two parties have agreed to hire an external mediator to sort out their issues.

    Of course, there's something even worse than MeeGo missing this opportunity to grab a little marketshare: Android losing marketshare. Looking out at the landscape right now, Android is the only thing standing between you and a completely proprietary OS running on your mobile device. Think about it.

    Sure, I was okay running whatever dinky OS they wanted to put on my old cell phone. It didn't even take pictures, and I only made calls and sent txts with the thing. But the problem is that our cell phones are now being used to store tons of private data. I'd wager that, Megabyte for Megabyte, for a large number of people there is more personal data stored on their cell phone than on their laptop. Just as I run FOSS on my laptop, I'd really like to run FOSS on my mobile devices.

    So while I don't expect Nokia to go bail-out Google, it's worth considering the fact that Google is holding its own here. Hopefully Nokia and Intel can crank on MeeGo and bring another powerful FOSS mobile OS to the party. We're all waiting with baited breath.

  • by t2t10 (1909766)

    It's not the size of the patent portfolio that matters, it's its quality.

    Furthermore, nobody other than google knows how many patents they have, since the USPTO info just doesn't tell you.

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