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Are Google's Patents Too Weak To Protect Android?

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the notes-from-dad dept.

Google 257

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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Nah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939208)

If Google can defeat China, they can defeat anybody.

Re:Nah. (3, Funny)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939306)

China is nothing compared to an army of Patent-lawyers.

Re:Nah. (2)

connect4 (209782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939314)

ffmpeg method

When your shit is the best, they won't sue for fear of the consumer backlash.

Also, being in hungary helps.

Hmmm.... (4, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939236)

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

Re:Hmmm.... (0)

qinjuehang (1195139) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939296)

How does that matter, may I ask?

Re:Hmmm.... (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939432)

It's a solid indication of how weak the story is, if the author has to pimp their own story.

Re:Hmmm.... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939616)

It's a solid indication of how weak the story is, if the author has to pimp their own story.

If he's managed to get it published in the Guardian, openly under his own name, then it's hard to see why he'd want to go to special eforts to sneak it onto Slashdot.

Re:Hmmm.... (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939892)

If he's managed to get it published in the Guardian, openly under his own name, then it's hard to see why he'd want to go to special eforts to sneak it onto Slashdot.

First, the special effort isn't that special. It's just a couple of minutes of effort Second, Slashdot has a large technologically aware readership which mostly doesn't overlap with the Guardian. It would increase Mueller's exposure and future business prospects considerably.

Re:Hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34940018)

Roy Schestowitz is a prick, but I can see why you admire him.

Re:Hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939710)

There's no "story". Anon posted a question, and if you aren't willing to participate in the discussion then don't participate. Seriously, some people!

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939966)

There's no "story".

From the "question":

So Google can't retaliate against aggressors [guardian.co.uk] such as Oracle.

There's the link to the story.

Re:Hmmm.... (4, Insightful)

smallfries (601545) | more than 3 years ago | (#34940084)

There are better indications that the story is bollocks.

Argument: Google is being sued a lot because it doesn't have a big enough patent collection to counter-sue.
Evidence: 12 suits.

Let's see... 8/12 are suits by patent trolls or companies in completely different industries. No size of patent pool would dissuade them as they do not produce *anything* in the same industry. 4/12 are relevant.

Conclusion: The size of Google's patent warchest is irrelevant in 66% of cases and the author is an idiot.

Re:Hmmm.... (4, Informative)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 3 years ago | (#34940136)

Well, but it's a fair question to ask. Personally I regard Google's legal team as very sharp, and unlike many other companies they are quite happy going for the throat with patent invalidation rather than seeking detent. And the trolls know it.

Re:Hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939442)

because it circumvents the measures taken by people to filtrate out his submissions?

Re:Hmmm.... (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939298)

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.

pony up the ca$h google (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939242)

more money for Oracle. I think Google will lose to Oracle. but they can't let android go. so google will probably end up paying Oracle.

Re:pony up the ca$h google (3, Insightful)

SadButTrue (848439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939434)

Don't forget that it's not just google that can't let andriod go. All of the members of the open handset alliance would be hurt to some degree if android were encumbered. I don't expect the carriers that have the iPhone to care much but Motorola and Samsung should.

Re:pony up the ca$h google (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939558)

Which is exactly why Google's patent portfolio isn't all that relevant. Anyone going after Android would be facing opposition from the entirety of the OHA, which between them have a massive portfolio. I also think it's a bit ridiculous to measure the strength of someone's patent portfolio solely on number of patents; in these kinds of patent standoffs all that matters is how much each side infringes on the other.

Rude Awakening... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939244)

Google, about the experience is.

- Yoda

Hmmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939252)

That's amazing.... where are we?

Google does have buttloads of cash though (0)

darjen (879890) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939290)

So they will probably be fine in the long run.

Re:Google does have buttloads of cash though (2)

satuon (1822492) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939590)

The problem is they're suing the manufacturers as well, so they might decide it's more profitable to sell WP7 phones. Microsoft has already said that the greatest feature of their phones is that they fully stand behind their OS and will protect manufacturers in case of lawsuits. So WP7 carries with itself the promise for patent protection.

Re:Google does have buttloads of cash though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939666)

My wife's HTC Windows 7 phone (I tried to warn her!) is so bad, it often crashes when trying to _place_ a call. Seriously.

Re:Google does have buttloads of cash though (3, Funny)

satuon (1822492) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939870)

Microsoft has a patent on a phone crashing. If any Android app ever crashes, they'll have to pay royalties to Microsoft, remove the bugs (the offending functionality), or pull that app from market.

wrong metric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939302)

The value of a patent portfolio would be less badly estimated if each one was multiplied by some probable value factor (be it on technical or judicial criteria). Wanna bet this would reduce Microsoft's patent portfolio value by a much larger factor than Google's?

Re:wrong metric (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939914)

No. But Apple's would certainly tend to zero.

Or... (5, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#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... (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#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 (5, Interesting)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939488)

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.

Re:Or... (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939578)

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.

Re:Or... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939708)

Well Microsoft also has a 9 billion dollar pure research budget which just comes up with new ideas (Surface was one of these started back in 2001, Kinect was another product) I would be surprised if they didn't have thousands of patents as a result. Only some of them even deal with software.

Google is much more focused on a particular segment of the market (The web based side) so naturally not being as spread their patents would be only covering their area.

Re:Or... (2)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939740)

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 (business critical, put the best lawyers onto writing/cleaning up the application and file it in as many jurisdictions as possible) to 5 ("patently stupid", have it drafted by a wino of the street, but file it anyway for bragging rights and/or keep the eccentric Nobel Prize winner happy because he also pops out patents rated 1.)

Google, on the other hand, could be focusing more on quality. The title says "Are Google's patents too weak?" but then talks about numbers.

The strength of your patents has NOTHING to do with how many patents you hold. On strong, broad patent is far more valuable than 100 weak, easily avoidable, narrow patents.

Re:Or... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939864)

"Quantitity"

What's on your mind, exactly?

Re:Or... (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 3 years ago | (#34940188)

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.

Re:Or... (1)

Motard (1553251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939878)

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 portfolio to dangle under their noses, then who knows?

Re:Or... (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939960)

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?

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34940050)

Yep, it's quality not quantity that matters. The USPTO is extremely inept at ensuring patents are valid on submission and acceptance, so really it's how they stand up to challenges that matters.

For all Apple's patents you only have to look at the ones it used in it's countersuits against Nokia- they're extremely flimsy in comparison and don't look likely to stand up to real challenge, because they're either obvious, or there are trivial examples of prior art. In contrast you look at the patent portfolio of a company like Nokia and it's patents are mostly rock solid original non-obvious stuff, but stuff that's worked it's way into core standardised telephony systems and the likes.

Question about summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939334)

former-NoSoftwarePatents-activist-turned-controversial-patent-blogger Florian Mueller

Can someone explain what this means? Is he pro-patent now?

Re:Question about summary (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939634)

He's now working for Microsoft using his old reputation as an anti-swpat campaigner to lobby for patents in open standards, and to attack Google with pieces like this. Florian Mueller is a whore, has always been, and everything he writes should be taken with a pound of salt.

Re:Question about summary (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939636)

No, he has reconsidered his stance and considers the abolition of software patents futile. That does not, however, mean he is not anti-software patents, just that he doesn't think pushing for software patents to be abolished is going to do any good.

Let me think.... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Let me think.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939646)

Don't forget the bazzillion tablets coming out this year, that also happen to be Android based.

Re:Let me think.... (1)

alta (1263) | more than 3 years ago | (#34940176)

Let me think...

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

Argument Fail.

Well.. (4, Informative)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939340)

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.

Re:Well.. (1)

crush (19364) | more than 3 years ago | (#34940104)

True. And also the money to pay for any ensuing legal costs. Patents are virtually useless except as a weapon for large companies.

Almost half their patents *this year* (1)

williamhb (758070) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939352)

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!

"This year" (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939556)

You might want to check your NTP settings...

So google has less patents (3, Interesting)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 3 years ago | (#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...

Re:So google has less patents (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939602)

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...

If you only have 4, how are you going to use 8 to kill a spider?

Re:So google has less patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939704)

Haven't you heard of submarine patents?

Wait... what are we talking about again?

Re:So google has less patents (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939614)

You are significantly larger than any spider.

Come back with another analogy for when the spider has eyes the size of your face.

Re:So google has less patents (1)

AKMask (843456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939788)

You seem to have missed the point of the analogy. Come swim with me and Mr. Google in this medium-sized sea we have bought, drained, and filled with solid gold doubloons. Theres a staff of hula girls clad in skirts made of hundred dollar bills to see to all your beverage-related needs. Its sometimes hard to get a handle on the wads of cash google has. The CBC last night made the point that the only single chunk of the worlds economy larger then google is Exxon-Mobil. Thats a lot of money in a place stocked top to bottom with engineers. Kevin Rose put the google method as such: 'Here's 30 million dollars. Go invent something. If it sticks, hey, bonus.'

Uhm, that WAS the analogy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939794)

Uhm, that WAS the analogy. The article states the NUMBER of patents, but not the SIZE. Your complaint that the OP did not consider the size of him wrt the spider is EXACTLY THE POINT of the analogy.

Or, short version: Whooosh.

Re:So google has less patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939940)

I would bet against the spider anytime. As long as its opponent is so much more intelligent than her. Same goes for patents.

Google resources (4, Interesting)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939364)

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.

Re:Google resources (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939724)

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.

Silly idea! (1)

amicus_curious (1251888) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939824)

It all comes down to where the money resides. What is the impact on Google revenues if Android adoption is limited by patent liabilities and resultant licenses? There is a lot of ballyhoo over phone OS "wars", but I do not see where there is any software money at stake. Hitachi has settled with Microsoft already, so at least one of the OEMs involved sees settlement as an acceptable way of continuing to do business. Companies cross-license or agree on license terms for patents all the time, what is so special here? The idea of spending a lot of money to develop a competing product in the database server arena that Google would give away to spite Microsoft is rather ludicrous. GOOG is a public company and that kind of frivolity would surely spark a stockholder lawsuit.

Re:Silly idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939996)

The idea of spending a lot of money to develop a competing product in the database server arena that Google would give away to spite Microsoft is rather ludicrous. GOOG is a public company and that kind of frivolity would surely spark a stockholder lawsuit.

I'm not a Google shareholder, but if I were, I wouldn't see such a move as ludicrous. Microsoft is able to enter markets that compete with Google because they can dump boatloads full of cash that they make from Office/Windows/SQL into those markets. Reducing MS' profit margins in those areas directly hurts their ability to compete with Google. If I were a shareholder, I'd be wondering why Google is doing such a thing right now!

Re:Silly idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34940024)

As I recall, the majority of voting shares are owned by Larry, Eric and Sergey.

Maybe Google's approach is different (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939396)

It could be that Google plans on taking on the patent system itself. That would certainly be the "good" thing to do (as in good for everyone as a whole).

We are in the midst of software patent armageddon (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939398)

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.

Re:We are in the midst of software patent armagedd (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939826)

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 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.

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.

The same is true in many other fields. Look at the humble portable discman. Had what, a 15 year run, tops? Are you arguing that all electronics should be exempt from patentability, too?

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."

No, it isn't. 35 USC 112 requires sufficient written description to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention without undue experimentation. If you've got a flow chart and a step by step description, a good programmer should be able to code the method in any language they know. Why do you view that as legally insufficient?

Re:We are in the midst of software patent armagedd (3, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:We are in the midst of software patent armagedd (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34940166)

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 protection. Or for 2011 adding the phrase using social media to share thoughts about some activity is not patent worthy. Unfortunately, the patent examiners have been slipping up and there is no stake in getting rid of truly awful patents.

Re:We are in the midst of software patent armagedd (3, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34940178)

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:We are in the midst of software patent armagedd (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939894)

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

Google can fight and fight and fight (1)

Fibe-Piper (1879824) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939404)

Any cases that go to court will already be dwarfed by the massive sums of money Android will have earned Google.

I mean have any of the hundreds of infringement lawsuits against the large patent holders listed in this article (Apple MS, Oracle) harmed them in any significant way? No. They wear their battles scars as a badges of honor.

Re:Google can fight and fight and fight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939928)

the massive sums of money Android will have earned Google.

And just how is that, exactly?

What "massive sums" (1)

amicus_curious (1251888) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939950)

GOOG does not seem to have any revenue model for Android. There are no massive sums of money to use to offset any legal costs of indemnifying OEMs who are offering "Droid" phones.

One easy way... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939406)

How about, by not violating other people's patents?

I know, not a popular notion in the land of "all ideas want to be free."

Re:One easy way... (2)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939486)

In 2011's patent landscape that is impossible... even if you try. There is simply too many patents covering to broad of areas.

Re:One easy way... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939658)

Perhaps you should take another look at the state of software patents. You can pretty much patent anything -- eHarmony managed to get a patent on singular value decomposition. You can violate a software patent without realizing it, easily, even if your algorithm seems to have nothing to do with the patent in question.

Obviousness and prior art are barely even factors in granting software patents. The law itself doesn't seem to be a factor anymore -- supposedly, you cannot patent math, yet somehow people manage to get patents on algorithms, even purely numerical algorithms.

Re:One easy way... (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939838)

That's an interesting approach. According to TFS, Google got 282 new patents in just the last year, Apple got approximately 550, and Microsoft got 3000. So as a developer, in order to avoid violating anyone's patents I must now read and comprehend just under 4000 patents. Just for those three companies. Just for last year. Given that patents last for what? 12 years? I figure, conservatively, that in order to be reasonably sure that I'm not violating any software patents on my next project I just need to read and comprehend around 100,000 technically and legally dense patents. I'll get right on that.

I guess its time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939420)

For Google to buy off more senators and congressmen than Microsoft and Apple ;)

It wont be the "App ecosystem" that's suffering (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939448)

It will be us, consumers. that is where allowing feodalization of intellectual creativity and innovation ends up eventually. harms the people.

Re:It wont be the "App ecosystem" that's suffering (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939596)

Yeah.. seems kind of odd all the screaming heads angry about "regulation" have no problem with patents...

Google has LOTS of power (1)

realmolo (574068) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939456)

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 anyone it doesn't want.

Re:Google has LOTS of power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939622)

Google relies in large part on 'common carrier' status. The moment it begins to select, by fiat and not just in response to takedown notices, what to exclude it becomes responsible for what it does serve up. This is actually a big issue, ISP's were worried enough about being responsible for what joe bob did over their network that they got congress to grant an exemption allowing them to do traffic shaping without losing said status.

Re:Google has LOTS of power (1)

Xuranova (160813) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939678)

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.

Re:Google has LOTS of power (2)

pseudonomous (1389971) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939734)

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 own, even without a public and/or regulatory body outcry.

wait and see what is infinging (1)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939468)

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, then you would simply not include support for Apple or iTunes in your device.

seriously, until something substantial comes out of an infringemnt claim, it's just a bunch of saber rattling and out-of-context interpretations and allegations on 'some dudes blog'. Remember the sco debacle.

Re:wait and see what is infinging (1)

Malenx (1453851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939676)

However, a lot of patients are now being rewarded that do show that deep of specifications.

They are more likely to try and patent, "a device that opens a garage door remotely" than, "a radio transmitter than uses *** frequency to connect to a remote receiving unit, which then signals a motor box to open a garage door."

These vague and stupid software patents are giving companies blank checks to cash in against anyone who even comes close to their already invented idea.

There is a limited amount of possible software inventions in our world, just as there are a limited amount of practical designs for wheels. When companies own the practical ideas, nobody else can use them without paying for them, even if the first company didn't actually do jack about it or with it.

All software patients should be dissolved, for the sake of our country and innovation. If we don't keep the momentum going here, we'll be left behind by other countries.

Re:wait and see what is infinging (1)

Malenx (1453851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939686)

*Do Not*

Sell the Phone, Give the OS away for Free (1)

TooLazyToLogon (248807) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939502)

Just sell the devices and give away an OS (Android) that makes the device function.
Be sure to patent this process.

Re:Sell the Phone, Give the OS away for Free (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939800)

Interesting. If something is in the public domain can it be blocked by patents?

Why doesn't Google push to abolish software patent (2)

rcb1974 (654474) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939564)

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.

Re:Why doesn't Google push to abolish software pat (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939682)

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.

Patent Lag Times - Especially Software (4, Insightful)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939670)

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.

Yes they could (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939696)

...if the assholes want to play hardball and attack google, google could retaliate and remove any mention whatsoever of those companies from search results. I ain't kidding either. Type in oracle or apple or mac or iphone or whatever for a search, results = zero.

See who blinks first. The zero results page could have an explanation of what is going on..blah blah company wants to hurt you as a consumer by making it so android just won't work on phones or devices, etc, plus a little editorial and explanation of why software patents are just a bad idea and why all consumers should lobby their elected officials and bureaucrats and fav hardware company to have them made null and void across the board.

If you can't hold it in your hand..no patent allowed. No business method patents, no software patents, they are just beyond ridiculous. Copyright, sure, trade secret, OK..a patent? Absolutely not.

Send in Google Goons (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939764)

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

Stupid patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939830)

I hate patents with a passion. Especially as something like the fashion industry does so well without such restrictions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL2FOrx41N0

It only takes 1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34939896)

Patents aren't of equal value.

1 enforcable patent on key technology can easily be negotiated against many more less important patents.

Companies build massive patent portfolios not to have a large number of patents, but to try and ensure that they have the patent for what ends up being an important widely deployed technology.

The only thing to back this up to me... (1)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939910)

Is the fact that Google doesn't provide legal protection for Android licensees, whereas Microsoft does to its licensees. Samsung is going whole hog with WP7 despite having great success on Android, so it makes me wonder whether or not some of this has a hint of truth.

Of course, it could have none at all too. But the lack of protection is an interesting thing to note.

abandon software patents (1)

X10 (186866) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939978)

We should abandon the concept of software patents. They don't make sense and they're in the way of innovation. If abandoning patents can't be done, then limit their validity to six or twelve months. That's enough to recoup your software development investments, but not long enough to prevent others to invent your wheel too.

The whole issue with software patents is that 99% of them are so obvious that any programmer would have come up with the same idea and the same software, independently. Patents are supposed to protect inventions that are not obvious.

Do the # of patents matter? (1)

brennanw (5761) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939984)

Does each individual patent cancel each other out? I'd always assumed if you owned a patent on a technology that was rather fundamental to the functioning of an entire industry it trumped 30 patents in a specific branch of that industry. I'm not saying those are the patents Google owns, I just didn't think that it was necessarily a #'s game.

I call FUD (1)

griffo (220478) | more than 3 years ago | (#34939994)

I rather feel this falls squarely in the court "FUD".

What a waste of energy.

Google has deep pockets (1)

crush (19364) | more than 3 years ago | (#34940080)

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.

doesn't this also... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34940120)

I realize this is only tangentially related, but doesn't this argument also strengthen Google's argument for open and patent-unencumbered formats like WebM? If something like Android can be seriously harmed by patent-holding competitors, then it only makes sense that we need more open and patent-unencumbered formats and systems wherever possible.

Interesting Change of Attitude (2)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34940164)

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.

Go together like: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34940202)

Patents and pissing contests.

Bread and butter.

My peanut butter is better than your jelly!

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