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121 comments

Consortium patents (1, Troll)

cgeys (2240696) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633210)

Only company from the list that I worry about is Apple. They're really been left and right everyone about patent issues. Microsoft, not so much, unless some patent troll has attacked them first. Same goes for RIM. Sony is bad in other fronts, they're not really suing for patent issues. But Apple has been handling their patent related issues really dirty, dumping thousand+ page sues, trying to enforce ban on competitor products and in their developer agreement for iPhone/iPad they require all software developers to give away their ideas to Apple when submitting their application - after which they can decide if to accept or reject the app and maybe implement it themselves. Like when Apple ripped off an wireless sync app [slashdot.org] made by a one guy.

Re:Consortium patents (2, Insightful)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633302)

Like when Apple ripped off an wireless sync app [slashdot.org] made by a one guy.

Oh for crying out loud. Can we not rehash this. Syncing over wireless. Not a hard concept to come up with. They didn't rip the name off as it's the most obvious name for such an app. Neither did the rip off the logo as it's a combination of a 'sync' logo and a 'wifi' logo. It's not rocket science. Yes, they rejected his app (due to him accessing parts of the OS outside the SDK) but that doesn't mean that they just ripped it off. Everyone's been after wifi syncing since the very first iPhone and I find it ridiculous that people out there believe that apple couldn't implement it themselves and had to 'rip off' this guy.

Re:Consortium patents (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36633352)

oh yes, because apple has never sued because somebody else used the obvious name they came up with. Like say, maybe, app store.

Re:Consortium patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36633480)

or sued over look and feel.

Re:Consortium patents (1)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633494)

A lawsuit that they famously won...

Re:Consortium patents (2)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633658)

Huh? It hasn't even gone to trial yet [reuters.com] .

Re:Consortium patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36633920)

Don't mind him, he's from the future.

But in truth, Apple will famously lose or settle that trial. But they were obligated to pursue it anyway because they have to vigorously defend their trademarks. Remember, Apple and Amazon are pretty buddy buddy on alot of things... they can't say "Google and Microsoft, you can't use the App store name, but Amazon? we like you , you can"

SO they pursue it and eith Amazon gets a slap on the wrist an "licenses" the trademark or Apple settles and Amazon "licenses" the trademark for far cheaper.

If it goes all the way in trial, I think Apple will lose, and that will end up being slightly damaging to the name, but the real purpose of confusing and delaying the Microsoft and Google marketing groups will have succeeded.

Re:Consortium patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36634792)

Or sued over the name Apple.

Re:Consortium patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36634432)

mod parent "funny"

Fuck "App"le (0)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#36634716)

Like when Apple ripped off an wireless sync app [slashdot.org] made by a one guy.

Oh for crying out loud. Can we not rehash this. Syncing over wireless. Not a hard concept to come up with. They didn't rip the name off as it's the most obvious name for such an app. Neither did the rip off the logo as it's a combination of a 'sync' logo and a 'wifi' logo. It's not rocket science. Yes, they rejected his app (due to him accessing parts of the OS outside the SDK) but that doesn't mean that they just ripped it off. Everyone's been after wifi syncing since the very first iPhone and I find it ridiculous that people out there believe that apple couldn't implement it themselves and had to 'rip off' this guy.

Did you hear about Apple suing Amazon over the word "App"? Fuck Apple.

Re:Fuck "App"le (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36635848)

Not true. Apple is suing over the PHRASE "App Store". Fuck reading comprehension.

Re:Consortium patents (4, Insightful)

regimechange (2287586) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633306)

Only company from the list that I worry about is Apple. They're really been left and right everyone about patent issues.

Such as? I guess you mean Samsung....for blatantly copying the iPhone and iPad? Nokia sued Apple first. Kodak sued Apple first. Several Microsoft proxies sued Apple. Who is Apple going after?

Microsoft, not so much, unless some patent troll has attacked them first.

What planet are you living on? Microsoft and its proxies are the biggest patent trolls on the planet. how many Android makers have they shaken down for protection money? How about Microsoft funding SCO to go after Linux? How about all the mainframe software lawsuits against IBM by their proxies in Europe? Microsoft shill much?

Re:Consortium patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36633652)

Must be a young'en or Droid fanboy to think MS is not a patent troll, and the most sued company on the planet (Apple) is.

Re:Consortium patents (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36636360)

Must be a young'en or Droid fanboy to think MS is not a patent troll

Historically, this has been accurate. Microsoft's patent portfolio was entirely defensive until they hired an ex-IBM guy who decided to try to monetize it. They've indulged in a lot of patent-related FUD, but very few lawsuits. They've been on the receiving end of a lot more patent lawsuits than they've filed, and the ones that they have filed have related to shipping products, not patents that they are holding just to get license money. This means that they're not patent trolls.

They may engage in anticompetitive behaviour and promote lock in using patents, but that's a different matter.

Re:Consortium patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36633830)

uh - the look and feel that Samsung had on the market before Apple did? is that the look and feel you're talking about?
The one that Samsung had a product designed, built and was demonstrating when Apple didn't, is that what you're talking about?

oh yes, so obviously because Apple has advertised more, then Samsung stole their idea. sheesh - get a clue.

Re:Consortium patents (1)

toriver (11308) | more than 2 years ago | (#36634612)

You will be hard pressed to find a time line or alternative universe in which the Galaxy II predates the iPhone.

If you are thinking of the earlier Samsung phone that was dragged out as "proof", that too was preceded by the iPhone announcement by a few months.

Re:Consortium patents (2)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 2 years ago | (#36634258)

Such as? I guess you mean Samsung....for blatantly copying the iPhone and iPad?

Yeah, because we all know that having a touch screen phone with a square screen and a grid for launcher icons is such a unique concept! Only a few dozen companies that had that sort of thing before!

Really, Apple has a history going back 30 years of ripping off other people's technologies and then suing over it as if they had invented it. The sleazy tricks they have been playing with iPhone and iPad are completely in character.

Re:Consortium patents (1)

regimechange (2287586) | more than 2 years ago | (#36635762)

Yeah, because we all know that having a touch screen phone with a square screen and a grid for launcher icons is such a unique concept! Only a few dozen companies that had that sort of thing before!

Care to share some examples?

Really, Apple has a history going back 30 years of ripping off other people's technologies and then suing over it as if they had invented it. The sleazy tricks they have been playing with iPhone and iPad are completely in character. Again, care to offer some examples?

Re:Consortium patents (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#36636382)

Palm OS used a touchscreen with rectangular icons in a grid since the mid '90s. When I first saw the iPhone, that was the first thing that came to mind. I assumed that Apple chose that UI model because it was one that consumers were already familiar with. I didn't realise it was supposed to be innovative.

Re:Consortium patents (2)

t2t10 (1909766) | more than 2 years ago | (#36639066)

Well, PalmOS, many of the devices running WinCE, the Sharp Zaurus and other devices running mobile Qt, UIQ, the PARC Tab, the IBM Simon, to name just a few. (Some of those were PDAs, a few were phones, but that doesn't affect the question of the originality of the UI.)

Re:Consortium patents (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633344)

Microsoft, not so much, unless some patent troll has attacked them first.

Really?

Then maybe you can explain this 'defensive' set of actions [theregister.co.uk] , will you? They may not be lawsuits, but the threat of one is pretty much the same thing these days when it's a big player extorting the little ones.

Long story short, there are no angels in that realm.

Re:Consortium patents (0)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633376)

The comedy here is: Google wins all around. They would have either a: gotten everything on the cheap at the stalking horse price, and also knows which patents exist and could now push for them all to be re-examined.

The truth is, every company who took this is an unethical, anticompetitive company that has given up on innovation. Aside from google who among them says "this is for defensive use and not to go after competitors?" That's your answer: None of them.

Re:Consortium patents (1)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633444)

They would have either a: gotten everything on the cheap ...

Customarily we get an 'or' option when you provide us with an 'either'.

Re:Consortium patents (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633834)

well my typing sucks, but (corrected) it was either a: cheap patents or b: they know which can be invalidated. my sentence didn't make much sense.

Re:Consortium patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36633618)

There are many things you can say about Apple, including that they get a bit lawsuit-happy on the patent front sometimes... That they've given up on innovation is really not one of those things.

Re:Consortium patents (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633750)

Actually most of Apples lawsuits are over look and feel, trade dress and trademarks. They spend their time protecting their brand, which is their most valuable asset. I'm sure you can find examples of they suing over patents, but if you exclude defensive suits where they are responding to someone else's patent suit (like nokia for instance) then there really aren't that many examples left. If you compared them to other companies you might be surprised.

Re:Consortium patents (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#36636020)

hello? suing samsung?

that's not trademark defense. That's apple going after android.

Re:Consortium patents (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 2 years ago | (#36636558)

Apple is suing samsung because they lifted the UI design for the iPhone and put it on their phone.

Re:Consortium patents (3, Informative)

gabebear (251933) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633516)

Only company from the list that I worry about is Apple. They're really been left and right everyone about patent issues. Microsoft, not so much, unless some patent troll has attacked them first. Same goes for RIM. Sony is bad in other fronts, they're not really suing for patent issues. But Apple has been handling their patent related issues really dirty, dumping thousand+ page sues, trying to enforce ban on competitor products and in their developer agreement for iPhone/iPad they require all software developers to give away their ideas to Apple when submitting their application - after which they can decide if to accept or reject the app and maybe implement it themselves. Like when Apple ripped off an wireless sync app [slashdot.org] made by a one guy.

based on what?

Probably the worst thing Microsoft is currently doing is threatening and then shaking down Android device manufacturers( http://www.engadget.com/2011/06/27/microsoft-inks-android-patent-deal-with-itronix-causes-more-hea/ [engadget.com] ), it's also hard to ignore:

Re:Consortium patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36638398)

Shock, horror - $5 off every Android device you buy (made by Samsung, anyway) go to MS! Don't you think it's quite a big difference from

Apple ... trying to enforce ban on competitor products

?

Re:Consortium patents (1)

SiChemist (575005) | more than 2 years ago | (#36634344)

Microsoft HAS been going after android phone manufacturers. As reported here before, Microsoft has made more off HTC paying them royalties than they have selling Windows Phone 7.

Microsoft has is already shaking down Android HW (1)

guidryp (702488) | more than 2 years ago | (#36635234)

Ask HTC, Velocity, General Dynamics and Onkyo about Microsoft.

They are paying royalties on Android to Microsoft to avoid being sued.

Apple is mainly suing Samsung for a blatant iPhone clone that would make a Chinese back alley knockoff maker blush.

You know this:
http://widgetlabs.info/uploadfiles/digestfolderinfo-1302100849/apple-sues-samsung-over-its-galaxy-phones-and-tablets_1.jpg [widgetlabs.info]

Re:Microsoft has is already shaking down Android H (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36635918)

Apple copied LG Prada

Re:Microsoft has is already shaking down Android H (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36640882)

Yes, it's obvious that two phones that came out within 6 months of each other. Do you seriously believe someone could take a phone from a photo, have it tooled, designed, mass produced, and released to the public in 6 months? LG and iPhone are similar, but nothing like the parent's link.

Seriously?

Re:Consortium patents (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 2 years ago | (#36637568)

Only company from the list that I worry about is Apple. They're really been left and right everyone about patent issues. Microsoft, not so much, unless some patent troll has attacked them first.

How is it that slashdot nerds are so ass-backwards about Apple? This all started when Android started gaining steam. You guys need to take a page from Jobs' playbook and stop acting like for Android to succeed, Apple has to lose. It's been leading you guys to believe completely stupid shit, like that Android has outsold iOS, that they want to control their users, or that Apple goes around suing people.

On your specific claim, Microsoft has been the one going around suing Android handset maker for infringing on their patents to gain royalties. It's been calculated that Microsoft now makes more money from Android sales than Windows Phone 7 sales.

To my knowledge, Apple has exactly *two* notable Android-related lawsuits. One is against Samsung for allegedly copying the look of iPhone and iPad. The other is against HTC for copying some of iOS's look and feel.

Whether you agree with hardware and software look and feel lawsuits, they are very consistent with Apple's position over the past 30+ years. Apple protects the uniqueness of their hardware and software. This Nortel patent consortium has absolutely nothing to do with that. Apple won't (and most likely can't, since this is a consortium), use these patents offensively. That's not in Apple's character. Apple's lawsuits are almost universally along the lines of, "This is ours. We came up with it, you didn't. This is what makes our products uniquely our products, and we won't let you take our hard work and use it in your products, or make things for our products that cause problems for our carefully designed user experience."

Agree with it or not, that's the way Apple operates, and is quite consistent. When you turn this into "oh no, Apple has patents, they're gonna sue all the things!" you are just making yourself look ignorant.

Apple is definitely not the patent troll you seem to think they are, and although neither is MS, they are not the angels you seem to think they are (NTFS and FAT lawsuits, for example, as well as the suits against Android handset makers).

The truth is (0)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633236)

Patnts are an artifact of your imagination. If you stopped believing in them, they would no longer have any power. As an atheist and a meterialist, I don't believe in any patents and thatis why I am a successful multi-billionaire internet two.0 Ceo! You can be like me, if you are as smart and intelligent as me, which is unlikely because I am so awesome.

P.S. let me remind you that never trust an Italian they are all hieves and rapists.

Re:The truth is (2)

elsurexiste (1758620) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633346)

Patnts are an artifact of your imagination.

Just like constitutional rights. So?

Re:The truth is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36633534)

The constitution is backed by military force. Quite like patents really.

I wonder how fresh they are? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633318)

While their liquidation has been a protracted affair, Nortel supposedly wound down most of its operations in 2009 in order to focus on legal and financial shenanigans. Presumably, then, their newest patents were probably applied for then, granted now-ish, and the bulk of them (one naively assumes) would have been filed back when the company was healthier and doing more R&D spending.

How close to expiration are the patents being purchased here?

Re:I wonder how fresh they are? (1)

justcauseisjustthat (1150803) | more than 2 years ago | (#36640032)

Patents are good for 20 years (assuming proper upkeep)

Re:I wonder how fresh they are? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#36641250)

Yeah, what I was wondering, given that patents actually have a finite term in some meaningful sense, what is the distribution of the pool of patents being sold? Are most of them quite new, with 15-20 years on the clock? Were the bulk of them done a decade ago, when Nortel was not bleeding out, and are now half gone? Are these companies paying for some that are nice and foundational; but will only give them an edge for another year to 3 years?

Patent everything. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36633322)

I patent everything in this day and age. I'm hoping someday that they will be my retirement fund.

woot! (1)

Fractal Dice (696349) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633342)

Wait ... that's quite a bit ... does that mean I might be getting some severence pay after all?

Re:woot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36633358)

You're bottom of the list after everyone else including the cleaners!

Enjoy living in your cardboard box!

Re:woot! (1)

Fractal Dice (696349) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633828)

You're assuming I wasn't a cleaner. Everyone used to envy the guy with the tennis ball on a stick who spent his days cleaning scuffmarks off the polished main hall. His life looked so simple, so fulfilling. He knew his job, he did his job, he went home and slept well.

I'm not the cardboard box yet, but if I can't pull it together and stop having panic attacks every time I see a cubical, a suit or a shell prompt, that's where I'm headed.

Re:woot! (1)

Chocky2 (99588) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633540)

Pffft, don't be greedy -- next you'll be expecting something back from your Nortel pension. At least we can keep ourselves warm burning all those lovely options & share certificates they gave us :)

Fortunately I dodged that (1)

Fractal Dice (696349) | more than 2 years ago | (#36634066)

I declined share options and stock purchases and asked that if they were going to give me a bonus, that it be in cash even if it was only a fraction of the paper value. I thought through all the risks and decided that investing in what was already my sole source of income didn't make sense at any price.

Mixed bag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36633400)

Two weeks from now, there will be a deal between this consortium and Google that licences all of those patents. Just watch. They need to recoup all that money from somewhere, and Google has too much dough to not licence it.

Also, this means that there will probably be lots of good competition among the consortium (at least, we can hope). All of those companies are competing with each other. It would have been good to see Google in that bunch, though. At that point, this entire patent portfolio would become a de facto standard, and developers can make a certain number of assumptions, which is always good for cross-platform development. Not sure what all that would affect, though, as I'm not sure what all patents are in there.

The only down side here is that this creates a huge barrier for entry for any startups - not that there isn't already one.

Re:Mixed bag (2)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#36634626)

Two weeks from now, there will be a deal between this consortium and Google that licences all of those patents. Just watch.

I doubt a blanket license is up for sale here.

They need to recoup all that money from somewhere

Look at the list of companies there. This is pocket change. Several of those companies have much more than this just in cash on hand.

The aim here is not to get license money from Google. The aim is to isolate them. I hope Google has a counter strategy. The only possible one I can imagine at this point is getting software patents declared unconstitutional, which sounds like a big challenge to me. Alternatively, maybe Google knows of another big telecomms portfolio which is going to come up for sale soon?

Re:Mixed bag (1)

kiwirob (588600) | more than 2 years ago | (#36638726)

A lot of these patents are Hardware patents that relate to 4G, LTE mobile networking devices. Removing software patents will not help Google. Like it or no patents provide a legal monopoly on the invention for 20 years. If they don't want to license these patents to Google, Android may never be able to go 4G.

huge barrier for entry for any startups (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#36637402)

That is one of the main reasons for 'consortiums' like this. Make it impossible to play ball with the big boys.

Patents should be abolished (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36633430)

Patents are just ways for large companies to choke off competitors by getting a state granted monopoly on an idea.

There are billions of dollars out there being wasted on patent litigation. That's money that could go into hiring more people and developing new products.

I'm against monopoly. Why isn't everybody else?

Re:Patents should be abolished (1)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633492)

There are billions of dollars out there being wasted on patent litigation.

I feel the lawyers out there would disagree with you on this one. They just love it!

Re:Patents should be abolished (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36633496)

I'm against monopoly. Why isn't everybody else?

But Monopoly is fun! I want Boardwalk.

Re:Patents should be abolished (1)

ControlsGeek (156589) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633558)

Patents and Monopoly are not just for the Big guys..... Witness the case of Rambus who own the rights to the Ram in your computer !

Re:Patents should be abolished (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#36634668)

I'm against monopoly. Why isn't everybody else?

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

Re:Patents should be abolished (1)

InsectOverlord (1758006) | more than 2 years ago | (#36637198)

No, the patent, as a concept, is not a bad thing, and is designed to prevent exactly what you complain about - large companies choking off competitors, especially when such competitors are those who developed the innovation.

If you just let everybody use everybody else's ideas, it will be major corporations with large factories and streamlined production processes that will benefit the most from those ideas, rather than the inventors and innovators.

That doesn't mean patent law, especially as implemented in US legislation, is perfect. Maybe 20 years is too much. And probably it should be mandatory to for patent holders to license their patents at reasonable and regulated prices. And definitely, patents on software and business process (Amazon 1-click, I am looking at you) are silly.

Re:Patents should be abolished (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#36641640)

So far the only really troublesome patents that I know of are software patents, and (closely related) business process patents. The problem is: they patent an idea, not an invention. Think of the paper clip: that was a great invention, and as such rightfully patented by the inventor. But the general idea of "holding sheets of paper together" that's not patentable - yet software patents do just that, patent broad ideas. That's bad.

Issues also exist with medical patents, but that's for other reasons: patents on medicines keep prices high until the patent runs out (which is usually far less than the total 20 years of the patent as many compounds are patented well before they are registered medication) - though arguably this is to give medical companies a sufficient return on investment, and medicine development is simply very expensive, largely due to the extensive and lengthy testing required.

Though overall I agree with you, patents are there for a very good reason, and the current terms on patents are basically still very reasonable. This in contrast to copyright of course where the term is way too long to be reasonable...

Re:Patents should be abolished (1)

justcauseisjustthat (1150803) | more than 2 years ago | (#36640036)

Yes we should do this and then watch all the companies stop doing all R&D, because why would a company spend money on R&D when they can just reverse engineer who ever does it first and get it almost free.

Does this mean the return of Windows NT? (1)

KlomDark (6370) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633506)

Maybe they'll go back to calling Windows Server - Windows NT. Microsoft got sued by Nortel (Northern Telecom) for using their trademarked "NT", which is why they changed the name.

Google must be concerned (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633514)

I am sure Google is concerned about this development. There is nothing this gang will do that will be in Google's interest.

Question is: What can Google do?

Re:Google must be concerned (3, Insightful)

yumyum (168683) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633538)

License the patents?

Re:Google must be concerned (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#36636252)

I thought patents were issued to people that work at said company, not the company themselves. How can you auction off something that belongs to a former employee?

Also, why is this happening? If the company owns said patent, shouldn't that patent be null and/or become common when said company closes doors?

Re:Google must be concerned (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 2 years ago | (#36637858)

If the company owns said patent, shouldn't that patent be null and/or become common when said company closes doors?

Welcome to the world of Imaginary Property, where a idea^Wpatent is an asset that is both tradable and the most valuable thing left when the company is still extant but under administration.

Re:Google must be concerned (1)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633702)

Although most of us think software patents are outright wrong, or in my case think they need serious curbing and shortening, they are our system in 2011. Google needs to own up an buy the rights to the patents. But they wont, forcing all their "partners" to do it individually.

Re:Google must be concerned (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 2 years ago | (#36637742)

"There is nothing this gang will do that will be in Google's interest."

You mean except Sony whose major smartphone interest right now is Android?

Really, this consortium covers iPhone, Windows Phone, Blackberry, and yes, Android interests. I'm not sure there will be much that will come of it frankly. I think everyone was bidding in this case for defensive patents. Obviously Google could've outbid them but it probably feels at $4bn the risk of being succesfully sued to that tune is pretty much non-existent, and I think they're probably right.

Been on the receiving end of that. (3, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633550)

A little under a decade ago (when our little-fish startup had been eaten by a middle-sized fish started-up-and-running but that hadn't yet been eaten by the giant conglomerate) Nortel sued our company on something I'd been co-architect on.

Though we'd done things differently (I ended up with seven patents for my inventions) I think the settlement still involved us paying them a few megabux to even out the patent licensing swap.

We all agreed that this proved Nortel was on the rocks. Switching from innovation to patent trolling, we figured, showed they were in deep trouble and trying to squeeze money out of every asset. As it turned out we were right.

Does anybody know if such cross-licensing agreements survive a bankruptcy and a patent portfolio sale? (I suspect not, since they're contracts with a bankrupt corp.)

Either way this should put the purchasers in a very good position to fend off attacks by telecoms and their equipment vendors against internet-based communication services. And if the agreements die with the previous owner it could let the buyers go on the offensive as well.

So I see this mainly as part of the generational struggle between the "Bell Head" telecoms and the "Packet Head" internet network companies, more than setting up a fight between Android and iPhone / Windows Phone / whatever.

Re:Been on the receiving end of that. (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#36635360)

Does anybody know if such cross-licensing agreements survive a bankruptcy and a patent portfolio sale? (I suspect not, since they're contracts with a bankrupt corp.)

Interesting question. Consider this strategy:

1) sue littlefish
2) establish cross-licensing deal with littlefish, for megabucks
3) sell patent and deal to shell company
4) run shell company into ground, have shell company owing parent company $$$
5) in bankruptcy court sell patent right to troll
6) get $$$ from patent right back to parent company as creditor
7) don't care if troll goes after littlefish and profit twice from one patent

I guess what this means is that in a cross-licensing deal you better have a clause that your 'partner' won't transfer the rights to anybody else for the duration of the patent , at least without an indemnification.

Re:Been on the receiving end of that. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 2 years ago | (#36636800)

Works better to put the patent and deal in the shell company and THEN sue the fishies - and repeat with a new shell company buying the assets of the old one. If you sued 'em once (step 1) you'll have a hard time claiming the contract you wrote and sold doesn't still bind you.

Why not mention EMC and Ericsson? (2)

mapnjd (92353) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633568)

Why not mention EMC and Ericsson in the summary, who are the only other two companies in the consortium? They're not small companies - they have market caps of $57bn and $47bn respectively. RIM are about a third to a quarter of the size at $15bn.

Sony makes Android products (2)

Garabito (720521) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633634)

Sony makes Android-based Xperia Smartphones. They would not attack Android, nor let the other members of the consortium doing it, it's against its interest.

Re:Sony makes Android products (4, Funny)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633786)

Sony is one of the most schizophrenic companies that I'm aware of, where each part seems completely unaware of the best interests of the other parts.

Re:Sony makes Android products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36636146)

I don't follow. What's so funny about this?

Re:Sony makes Android products (1)

Shompol (1690084) | more than 2 years ago | (#36637296)

Completely unaware of their customer's interests as well. They refuse to update the video card driver on my VAIO laptop, as well as forbid Nvidia to provide me with a driver. They do not want to know about BSODs their driver generates. More than that, when I seek support they tell me to go to whatever country it is I bought it from. When I tell them that I bought it in US they act as a big broken record player.

Re:Sony makes Android products (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#36634076)

But they could attack other android phone manufacturers. The market is getting crowded, i think.

Re:Sony makes Android products (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36634348)

Besides, if Sony wants to sue Google over its patents, Google can turn around and sue Sony for use of its software(Android). No phone manufacturer uses the OS in the way exactly specified in the license, a-la modding and adding/removing features, so Google would have a good shot at it.

Re:Sony makes Android products (1)

toriver (11308) | more than 2 years ago | (#36634666)

How? Android is open source, what you need a license for is the (non-open) Google app suite and they can easily replace those with their own. Remember: When you release something as open source, the horse is out of the barn.

Market-exclusive applications (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#36635358)

Android is open source, what you need a license for is the (non-open) Google app suite and they can easily replace those with their own.

As of right now, a lot of applications for Android devices are available only through Android Market, not through AppsLib, SlideME, Amazon Appstore, or direct APK download. One example of such an application is Chase Bank's quick deposit application. With so much demand for applications exclusive to Android Market, how could Sony get away with replacing Android Market with a different application?

Re:Market-exclusive applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36639822)

ANDROID FRAGMENTATION!

Android is open source, what you need a license for is the (non-open) Google app suite and they can easily replace those with their own.

As of right now, a lot of applications for Android devices are available only through Android Market, not through AppsLib, SlideME, Amazon Appstore, or direct APK download. One example of such an application is Chase Bank's quick deposit application. With so much demand for applications exclusive to Android Market, how could Sony get away with replacing Android Market with a different application?

Re:Sony makes Android products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36634698)

I believe android has a patent retaliation clause (weak) that would allow Google to revoke Sony's android distribution license for asserting patents against any member of the Android consortium or any contributor. It would be a really bad idea for Sony to sue Google. However, that wouldn't necessarily apply to other members of the "Nortel consortium".

Non-transferable (4, Interesting)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36633740)

I just want to express my opinion that patents should not be transferable. It is bad enough that corporations wield patents to hinder progress, maintain monopolies, and destroy smaller competitors. Patents are meant to protect the people who innovate. You should not be able to buy and sell this protection. If you didn't invent it, you shouldn't be able to enforce a patent on it even if you paid $4.5 billion for that "right." Also, If someone patents something, they have to do something with it themselves or they forfeit their patent. You can't just sit on an idea and wait for someone else to infringe on it so you can sue them. That's just wrong.

Off topic, but I just had to say it.

Re:Non-transferable (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#36634702)

I just want to express my opinion that patents should not be transferable. It is bad enough that corporations wield patents to hinder progress, maintain monopolies, and destroy smaller competitors. Patents are meant to protect the people who innovate. You should not be able to buy and sell this protection. If you didn't invent it, you shouldn't be able to enforce a patent on it even if you paid $4.5 billion for that "right."

All that changes is that the $4.5billion will be a contract between the company and the inventor, such that the inventor agrees to go after any infringers. Your suggestion doesn't really change anything.

Also, If someone patents something, they have to do something with it themselves or they forfeit their patent. You can't just sit on an idea and wait for someone else to infringe on it so you can sue them. That's just wrong.

That's typically called a working requirement, and a few other countries have them, including India. While it's a good idea for getting rid of trolls, it also, unfortunately, affects research universities. Cornell does a lot of research and patenting, and they then license those patents to companies to implement the inventions... but they don't make anything themselves. Should Cornell, MIT, etc. be denied protection?

Better way to do it would be to make damages for infringement determined off of either lost profits (if you make a product) or a reasonable market-price based licensing fee. So, a troll who has never gotten anyone to pay for a license might only get a few dollars, while a university can point to their licensing contracts and get similar terms.

Re:Non-transferable (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36635264)

All that changes is that the $4.5billion will be a contract between the company and the inventor, such that the inventor agrees to go after any infringers. Your suggestion doesn't really change anything.

If the inventor dies, goes out of business, or doesn't have the resources to go after infringers, what then? I would personally question the validity of such a contract, but IANAL. It doesn't seem right to obligate someone else to file a lawsuit. I think you can prevent another from filing a lawsuit, but you shouldn't be able to compel them to on your behalf.

Again, I am not a lawyer and I openly admit ignorance of contract and patent law. I'm speaking of ethics only.

That's typically called a working requirement, and a few other countries have them, including India. While it's a good idea for getting rid of trolls, it also, unfortunately, affects research universities. Cornell does a lot of research and patenting, and they then license those patents to companies to implement the inventions... but they don't make anything themselves. Should Cornell, MIT, etc. be denied protection?

Yes, I think they should be denied protection. A potential licensee should contract with the university to do the research and the resulting patent should go to the company who intends to use it. Otherwise, research should go into the public domain. I think science is all too often hindered by proprietary and redundant research. Universities are supposed to foster the open exchange of knowledge.

Better way to do it would be to make damages for infringement determined off of either lost profits (if you make a product) or a reasonable market-price based licensing fee. So, a troll who has never gotten anyone to pay for a license might only get a few dollars, while a university can point to their licensing contracts and get similar terms.

Do this too. What are damages based on now?

Re:Non-transferable (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#36635534)

All that changes is that the $4.5billion will be a contract between the company and the inventor, such that the inventor agrees to go after any infringers. Your suggestion doesn't really change anything.

If the inventor dies, goes out of business, or doesn't have the resources to go after infringers, what then? I would personally question the validity of such a contract, but IANAL. It doesn't seem right to obligate someone else to file a lawsuit. I think you can prevent another from filing a lawsuit, but you shouldn't be able to compel them to on your behalf.

Again, I am not a lawyer and I openly admit ignorance of contract and patent law. I'm speaking of ethics only.

You can't compel them, but you can hit them with a breach of contract suit... and you can have liquidated damages provisions that are so huge that they'd rather not breach. Essentially, compelling them through economic interests, rather than a legal order.

Plus, why would they not? If the inventor was well paid to simply sign a civil complaint for infringement at some point in the future, why wouldn't they?

That's typically called a working requirement, and a few other countries have them, including India. While it's a good idea for getting rid of trolls, it also, unfortunately, affects research universities. Cornell does a lot of research and patenting, and they then license those patents to companies to implement the inventions... but they don't make anything themselves. Should Cornell, MIT, etc. be denied protection?

Yes, I think they should be denied protection. A potential licensee should contract with the university to do the research and the resulting patent should go to the company who intends to use it. Otherwise, research should go into the public domain. I think science is all too often hindered by proprietary and redundant research. Universities are supposed to foster the open exchange of knowledge.

I have to disagree. Since university educations are not free, and universities are not all fully publicly funded, I think it's a bit naive to say that a private university, like MIT, Harvard, Cornell, or others, should be doing research out of the goodness of their hearts.

Better way to do it would be to make damages for infringement determined off of either lost profits (if you make a product) or a reasonable market-price based licensing fee. So, a troll who has never gotten anyone to pay for a license might only get a few dollars, while a university can point to their licensing contracts and get similar terms.

Do this too. What are damages based on now?

Right now, they can be based on the infringer's profits... on the grounds that, had they not infringed, those profits would be yours.
... which makes sense until you get to a patent troll or non-practicing entity, since those profits could never have been theirs.

Re:Non-transferable (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36635816)

You can't compel them, but you can hit them with a breach of contract suit... and you can have liquidated damages provisions that are so huge that they'd rather not breach. Essentially, compelling them through economic interests, rather than a legal order.

Breach of what contract? If it isn't valid to contractually obligate someone to file a lawsuit on your behalf, what is being breached by not filing a lawsuit on your behalf?

Plus, why would they not? If the inventor was well paid to simply sign a civil complaint for infringement at some point in the future, why wouldn't they?

Good point. Though wouldn't the patent be invalid because the owner wasn't doing anything with it?

I have to disagree. Since university educations are not free, and universities are not all fully publicly funded, I think it's a bit naive to say that a private university, like MIT, Harvard, Cornell, or others, should be doing research out of the goodness of their hearts.

I dont' really care what would motivate them to put their research into the public domain. I just think it is important to promote the free exchange of ideas wherever and whenever possible. To be perfectly honest, I don't even like idea of intellectual property at all, particularly patents and copyright They are necessary evils, at best. I'd be happy to see the whole concept of intellectual property abandoned and require nothing more than proper attribution to avoid fraud. But, alas, capitalism.

Re:Non-transferable (1)

yarnosh (2055818) | more than 2 years ago | (#36635562)

All that changes is that the $4.5billion will be a contract between the company and the inventor, such that the inventor agrees to go after any infringers. Your suggestion doesn't really change anything.

Another thing: If the inventor isn't doing anything with the patent, they'll lose it under my proposal. Who is going to give them $4.5bil contract for exclusive license to a patent if the the owner is just going to lose it for lack of implementation?

Re:Non-transferable (1)

josepha48 (13953) | more than 2 years ago | (#36636380)

Thank you! I totally agree. The initial idea of the patent system was so inventors could get money for inventing, NOT so companies could buy them and sue other companies.

Re:Non-transferable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36637094)

So if a poor inventor invents something fantastic, you don't want him/her to get paid because he can't sell the invention to someone that can defend the patent and produce commercial products from it?

Re:Non-transferable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36641592)

And... how do you get money for inventing, when someone else uses your idea without licensing the patent?

Do you (the inventor) waste your time becoming an expert in the legal system? Or do you spend a lot of money (you don't have) on lawyers to attempt to defend it? Or do you sell the rights to defend the patent to someone, and go back to actually inventing things?

Re:Non-transferable (1)

DRJlaw (946416) | more than 2 years ago | (#36639596)

You should not be able to buy and sell this protection. If you didn't invent it, you shouldn't be able to enforce a patent on it even if you paid $4.5 billion for that "right." Also, If someone patents something, they have to do something with it themselves or they forfeit their patent.

No. You're so far off you're not even wrong.

Your opinion has no chance of becoming the law.

Property that cannot be bought and sold is effectively not property at all. "People who innovate" will not be able to sell their idea, obtain financing using their idea as collateral, or invest their idea as capital in a business. Only corporations could exploit the idea using their own resources, but because inventions are developed by employees and 'sold' to their employer, not even the employer could enforce a patent.

Thank you very little -- don't bother trying again.

Typical of Modern Tech Companies... (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36634312)

"We can't beat them with quality product and service, so let's just buy the technology out from under them in a super-shady deal, and then sue/charge for the use of their own tech!"

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