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What If Android Lost the Patent War?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the technically-just-a-police-action dept.

Android 248

adeelarshad82 writes "The patent system is certainly complex, especially when it comes to smartphones. The Financial Times estimates that as many as 250,000 patents are at stake in a smartphone. Industry titans like Microsoft, Nokia, and Apple have tens of thousands of patents each, but Google's portfolio is reportedly on the low end — 'under 1,000.' Taking advantage of the opportunity, Apple has its patent strategy aimed squarely at the number one rival to its iOS mobile operating system, Android, which is now embedded in 40 percent of all U.S. smartphones compared to Apple's 26.6 percent. Apple's lawyers have been aggressively suing Android manufacturers HTC and Samsung for various technologies, from the 'look and feel' to how it connects to broadband networks. A recently published article takes a deep dive into the lawsuits' possible outcomes and their effect on end users."

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248 comments

We're going to do what we do every day (2)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025186)

Try to take over the world. Or at least all their money.

Pinkey and the Brain (lawyers, newly qualified)

Re:We're going to do what we do every day (1)

Tr3vin (1220548) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025360)

His name was Pinky! Don't you dare misspell the names of my beloved childhood cartoon characters. I should also note that Pinky and Brain were never successful. Well, they were once when Pinky came up with the plan, but Brain managed to mess everything up.

Re:We're going to do what we do every day (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025634)

Also, some of those plots clearly took weeks and even months to come to fruition. Perhaps if they had focused on them rather than starting a new one every day they might have been successful.

Re:We're going to do what we do every day (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025652)

Shiny pants!

Software Patents... (4, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025192)

I'd be more interested in reading what would happen if software was considered un-patentable tomorrow and all software patents rendered void.

Re:Software Patents... (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025234)

That would surely be pretty interesting to see large companies collapse because of that. But their lobbies are way too strong for this to happen...

Re:Software Patents... (3, Insightful)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025290)

What companies other than Intellectual Ventures would collapse? Apple, HTC, Google, and Microsoft would still be in buisness. They make money by selling products protected by copyright. These are patents that have been largely uninforced for the last 20 years. Other than IV and a bunch of 2 lawyer operations in Texas there is not much buisness in software patents.

Re:Software Patents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025314)

No *real* business. However, Analysts have included the safety & potential revenue of patent-portfolios into their evaluations of the companies. Losing a large chunk of value overnight sure would make some people nervous.

Re:Software Patents... (1)

lpp (115405) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025460)

Yet surely there is a subsequent decrease in valuation of a company due to the patent portfolios of competitors. Such that Google would see very little devaluation due to "loss" of their relatively small patent portfolio but with a potential sizable gain in value because their competitors no longer have that sword dangling over them.

And while Apple might seem to be in the cat bird seat regarding patents, they are still embroiled in patent disputes, some of which aren't going their way. [tuaw.com] Those problems would disappear also increasing their worth.

Wouldn't it be a zero sum effect overall? Yes some would win, some would lose, but wouldn't the values not be altered THAT much?

Re:Software Patents... (2)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025598)

There would be a decrease in valuation of holding companies that larger companies own. This would have some effect on there ability to hide money from tax collectors using accounting tricks. I bet there is also a trade in patent derivatives on some market. This would collapse and a few stupid investors would lose money. Nothing on the scale of the housing market. Companies on the brink of collapse would be hit the worst. They would have one less asset to sell off in bankruptsy.

Re:Software Patents... (1)

gerddie (173963) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025604)

Actually, it's worse than zero-sum: As Michael Fitzgerald [williams.edu] from the New York Times comments:

[Bessen and Meurer] [researchoninnovation.org] analyzed data from 1976 to 1999, the most recent year with complete data. They found that starting in the late 1990s, publicly traded companies saw patent litigation costs outstrip patent profits. Specifically, they estimate that about $8.4 billion in global profits came directly from patents held by publicly traded United States companies in 1997, rising to about $9.3 billion in 1999, with two-thirds of the profits going to chemical and pharmaceutical companies. Domestic litigation costs alone, meanwhile, soared to $16 billion in 1999 from $8 billion in 1997.

Things have probably become worse since then. For instance, patent litigation is up: there were 2,318 patent-related suits in 1999, and 2,830 in fiscal 2006 (though that’s down from the peak year, 2004, when 3,075 were filed). Mr. Bessen said awards in patent cases also seemed to be up, though he was less confident in that data. Worse, he says, companies doing the most research and development are sued the most.

Re:Software Patents... (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37026178)

It certainly hasn't hurt them outside of the US where their patents are worthless.

Re:Software Patents... (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025458)

IV is actually owned by google, MS and other fortune 500 tech companies. it's like a mutual fund

Re:Software Patents... (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025718)

That is a bit misleading. Those companies have "invested" in IV patent funds. These funds allow the companies to use the patents in the fund and they get a portion of the revenue the fund generates. They are basically companies that have paid the ransom IV has demanded. IV has taken patents out of these funds and sold them to independent lawyers. These lawyers then go out and sue non investors. That is why apple app developers are being sued instead of Apple.

Re:Software Patents... (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025636)

Apparently there are more “This American Life [thisamericanlife.org] ” listeners on Slashdot than I would've expected.

Re:Software Patents... (1)

Co0Ps (1539395) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025308)

Why exactly would "large companies" collapse? The only reason big companies gathers a large portfolio of software patents is either to troll or to counter-sue if they are sued themselves. If software patents where abolished we would see a surge in innovation and a surplus of lawyers.

Re:Software Patents... (1)

rmstar (114746) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025492)

Why exactly would "large companies" collapse?

Because patents are part of their valuation. Credits are obtained with patents as a security. They are assigned value, and kept as assets. If they become worthless over night, many companies will just be bankrupt in the morning.

Re:Software Patents... (1)

zget (2395308) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025582)

Patents also promote investing in research & development. I doubt Microsoft and other companies would be spending billions in research if everything they discovered or came up with was immediately available to everyone else. With the US financial situation how it is, I'm surprised every american here on slashdot seem to try to bring down the last thing that is still done in the US. Research. Everything else is already produced in China, Taiwan and other cheaper countries.

Re:Software Patents... (3, Informative)

rmstar (114746) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025638)

Patents also promote investing in research & development.

No, they don't. There's plenty of evidence out there refuting your claim.

I doubt Microsoft and other companies would be spending billions in research if everything they discovered or came up with was immediately available to everyone else.

There are many barriers to entry aside from patents. Actually getting something done is one, for example.

Re:Software Patents... (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025794)

But they are immediately available to everyone else because no one reads patents. You think China is looking at patents? They bairly pay attention to copyright. You think the guy in his garage working on a startup is looking at patents? He doesn't have the time to go through 200000 patents every year.

Re:Software Patents... (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025836)

Why exactly would "large companies" collapse?

Because patents are part of their valuation. Credits are obtained with patents as a security. They are assigned value, and kept as assets. If they become worthless over night, many companies will just be bankrupt in the morning.

If the entirety of your assets consist of credit, debt, rights, licenses, patents, copyrights, etc., then you are already bankrupt.
Emperor's new robe and whatnot.

Re:Software Patents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025496)

Why exactly would "large companies" collapse? The only reason big companies gathers a large portfolio of software patents is either to troll or to counter-sue if they are sued themselves. If software patents where abolished we would see a surge in innovation and a surplus of lawyers.

So the streets would be full of gangbangers, thugs, AND lawyers?

Re:Software Patents... (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025388)

They would hardly collapse through that - the patent suits are there just to discredit and mess up things.

What would happen is that the other companies would try to find other ways to be competitive - and maybe force them to really think about quality rather than litigation to stay on the edge.

Re:Software Patents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025316)

That's burying your head in the sand. It's much more likely that patents will be upheld and Android may suffer for it.
 
But hey, if you want to live in a dream world instead of taking on the challenges of our times feel free to keep your head up your ass.

Re:Software Patents... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025868)

I'd be more interested in reading what would happen if software was considered un-patentable tomorrow and all software patents rendered void.

Interesting? Yes. Uplifting? Definitely. Beneficial? Of course. Likely? No.

Re:Software Patents... (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025994)

It is likely. It nearly happened with the bilski v. kappos case heard before the supreme court. A low chance but a better chance than a lot of other things. Lots of patent cases going before the high court recently.

Re:Software Patents... (1)

btalbot (2427646) | more than 2 years ago | (#37026164)

Who knows what'd happen. It'd just be more awesome.

Patent Reform (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025224)

Perhaps if this happens the effort to fix patent law will finally gain enough support.

250,000? (2, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025244)

May I be allowed to say: holy fucking shit. 250,000 patents in one phone? Insane. Absolutely insane. The patent system is supposed to be used so a new device has maybe a handful of patents in it. Quite often, only one. Because very few inventions are really novel and deserving of protection. But everyone on /. should know this already, and I'm just treading old ground.

I'll end this by just saying: fuck lawyers. There is good reason why so many people despise and hate them, and our present patent system is an excellent example. Leeches, most of 'em (to be fair, a few are alright... but very, very few.)

Re:250,000? (2)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025252)

The patent system is supposed to be used so a new device has maybe a handful of patents in it.

Why? Because you said so?

Re:250,000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025300)

Why not? Because you'd like it this way?

Re:250,000? (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025450)

The patent system is supposed to be used so a new device has maybe a handful of patents in it.

Why? Because you said so?

No, because we're talking about patents in the US, and, by constitutional decree, they're only supposed to cover Discoveries.

Re:250,000? (1)

NitroWolf (72977) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025338)

May I be allowed to say: holy fucking shit. 250,000 patents in one phone? Insane. Absolutely insane. The patent system is supposed to be used so a new device has maybe a handful of patents in it. Quite often, only one. Because very few inventions are really novel and deserving of protection. But everyone on /. should know this already, and I'm just treading old ground.

I'll end this by just saying: fuck lawyers. There is good reason why so many people despise and hate them, and our present patent system is an excellent example. Leeches, most of 'em (to be fair, a few are alright... but very, very few.)

Lawyers are a consequence of bad law, not the other way around. Lawyers are not the problem for the most part... it's the people you elected to office and passed the laws that make lawyers necessary.

Indirectly, it's more your fault than the lawyers.

Re:250,000? (2)

Old97 (1341297) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025436)

According to this, throughout US history, most members of Congress are lawyers. http://www.legalreform-now.org/menu1_5.htm [legalreform-now.org]

Re:250,000? (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025586)

THIS!

If there was ever a reason to separate the three branches of governance this is it. Prevent people from serving in two branches of government at the same time. Since this is only a problem with Lawyers (part of the Judicial branch by default) prevent Lawyers from EVER holding office of Executive or Legislative branches of government ... ever.

Re:250,000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025850)

Members of the military forces are, by the same argument, part of the Executive branch. Should they be forbidden from holding office in the Legislature, ever?

I can see that argument for active-duty, but retired members? Should we allow retired lawyers into the legislature/executive?

Re:250,000? (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 2 years ago | (#37026172)

Look, I despise the practices of lawyers (as a group) just as much as the next /.'er, but I don't think you thought this through very well.

Prevent people from serving in two branches of government at the same time.

I'm not well-enough versed in the Constitution to claim whether or not an individual person could legally hold offices in two or more branches of the government simultaneously. Intuitively, I'd say "not" but I don't know for sure, because honestly, the idea never occurred to me. However, for the point I believe you are trying to make (as opposed to what you actually wrote), that is somewhat irrelevant. "Lawyers" are a group of people, rather than specific individuals. Good luck excluding groups of people from serving in more than one branch of government, because there are countless ways to subdivide people into various groups. I would guess it would be just about impossible to fill the branches of government with people whose group memberships contained no intersections. </pedantic>

Since this is only a problem with Lawyers (part of the Judicial branch by default) prevent Lawyers from EVER holding office of Executive or Legislative branches of government ... ever.

Ummm...I'm not so sure I agree that lawyers are "part of the judicial branch by default". You can't exclude lawyers from the Executive Branch because a non-lawyer wouldn't be able to read a bill and catch the loopholes. We average joes sometimes find ourselves screwed because we signed contracts that we didn't understand; how much worse would it be if the President was signing bills into law without understanding the ramifications of the legal terms in the bill? Similarly, the Legislative Branch has to be composed of lawyers because the lawyers arguing cases before a judge would have a field day with laws written by people who didn't understand legal language. That would be like you or me writing a contract with a business that could afford an army of lawyers in Armani suits. They would pick apart the best contract that geeks like us could write just as any geek worth his salt could pick apart code written by your average user. Of the three options in the U.S., I would argue that putting non-lawyers in the Judicial Branch might be the best option, since hopefully, they would hopefully be more inclined to rule based on "spirit of the law" rather than "letter of the law." Maybe. If we were lucky.

Re:250,000? (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 2 years ago | (#37026160)

Makes sense. What other job allows someone to gather enough wealth in a relatively short time to be able to even afford to run for office? And then go right back if they don't win, or get voted out a few years later?

Lawyers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025366)

If you think lawyers make the decisions, then you don't know who has the guns.

Re:Lawyers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37026084)

And how many Lawyers are there in Congress and the Senate and all the various State Legislatures?
These are the eones making the decisions that go a long way towards lining the pockets of guess who? More Lawyers.
And so the cycle goes on ad infinitum.

This recent upsurge in Copyright and Patent cases is (taking a cynical view) just the turn of corporate lawyers to get their slice on the pie.

What really irks me is that all this is going on while the US (and to some extent, the world) economy is going down the tubes.
These guys (the lawyers that is) are like the orchestra playing on the Titanic as she sank.
They are in effect saying, F*** you. We don't care if you don't have any money we are going to take whatever you have and good riddance.

Re:250,000? (1)

Co0Ps (1539395) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025466)

Ah, you should go out and tell people how the patent system is *supposed* to be used then since apparently the problem is that people have misunderstood the whole thing. I'm really tired of the "the software patent system really works in theory, but people/organization are not using it correctly" argument. Let's pretend that the argument makes sense, then we could also argue that "the communist system really works in theory, but people wasn't using it correctly".

If a system can be abused it's broken. You can blame the lawyers and patent troll companies all you want. At the end of the day they just play by the rules of the system.

Re:250,000? (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37026072)

Software patents do *not* work "in theory." (Neither does communism, IMHO, but I must tip my hat to the nice straw man/ red herring argument there) The people who created the system are, in point of fact, lawyers and companies who want to create business for themselves and monopolies, respectively. As someone commented above, most members of Congress are lawyers. And by definition so are all the members of our court system. Lawyers love business, like all professions, and I have no problem with that necessarily. Unfortunately, it happens that the group of people who create their business also profit by that business, directly or indirectly. So no, lawyers don't just play by the rules of the system, they quite often create those rules as they see fit.

Re:250,000? (1)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025574)

May I be allowed to say

No, you may not.

The patent system is supposed to be used so a new device has maybe a handful of patents in it.

I liked this [slashdot.org] response.

I'll end this by just saying: fuck lawyers. There is good reason why so many people despise and hate them, and our present patent system is an excellent example.

Ah, well, at least you've got some well reasoned and sensible discourse going on. Thanks for the value you've added to the discussion.

One Patent, Please! (3, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025248)

The Financial Times estimates that as many as 250,000 patents are at stake in a smartphone. Industry titans like Microsoft, Nokia, and Apple have tens of thousands of patents each, but Google's portfolio is reportedly on the low end — 'under 1,000.'

Luckily patents are not created equally and I would imagine that companies decades older than Google and with far more product lines, areas of business, etc have more patents. Is this really grounds for assuming Android is teetering upon a rain slick precipice of darkness?

I think patents are kind of like nuclear warheads and mutually assured destruction requires only that you have a couple thousand strategically positioned with MIRV ... er Lawyer guidance modules. Legions and legions of lawyers. Row upon row of mindless litigant bastards that will close ranks when one of their number is befallen by a fatal case of morals or common sense.

Re:One Patent, Please! (1)

NitroWolf (72977) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025364)

Row upon row of mindless litigant bastards that will close ranks when one of their number is befallen by a fatal case of morals or common sense.

I don't think that word means what you think it means. Perhaps you mean "litigious?"

Re:One Asinine Post, Please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025488)

Row upon row of mindless litigant bastards that will close ranks when one of their number is befallen by a fatal case of morals or common sense.

I don't think that word means what you think it means.

OMG OMG Princess Bride reference! Original! So original! This guy knows what he's talking about! Durrrrrrrr ...

Perhaps you mean "litigious?"

Or perhaps litigant works as well [google.com] ?

litigant
Noun: A person involved in a lawsuit.
Adjective: Involved in a lawsuit: "the parties litigant".

Hey thanks for your lesson in how to not look something up before obnoxiously correcting someone though.

Re:One Patent, Please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025696)

and enough of the "I don't think that word means what you think it means" crap... It was clever the first couple million times... now, it's fucking annoying. Also, fuck all the "THIS!!!" posts. Completely inane.

Software Patents Should Be Abolished (3, Insightful)

deweyhewson (1323623) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025254)

Software patents are a pox on this nation. They undermine the system, stifle, rather than motivation, innovation, and are used as clubs by the bullies in industry.

The idea that I can "create" something intangible, easily replicated, and quite literally out of nothing simply by typing some characters on a keyboard is absolutely insane, and should never have been allowed in the first place. Had the system existed like this centuries ago, the book market would have been driven into the ground by publishers who owned the patent on "arranging characters on a page to create words and express ideas".

And the fact hat Apple is choosing to beat Android into submission with them, rather than make a superior product, is very telling indeed.

Re:Software Patents Should Be Abolished (4, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025340)

And the fact hat Apple is choosing to beat Android into submission with them, rather than make a superior product, is very telling indeed.

That's not a fact. That's an opinion. An argument can be made that Apple is making the superior product and beating down Android/Google with patents (which are not all software patents, I should point out.)

I'm no fan of software patents, I think they're entirely wrong-headed, but if you're going to hold Apple's feet to the fire, at least do it with a clear view of what is going on. They make plenty of real mistakes and do lots of obnoxious things, no need to invent fictitious ones.

Re:Software Patents Should Be Abolished (2)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025344)

And the fact hat Apple is choosing to beat Android into submission with them, rather than make a superior product, is very telling indeed.

I take your point, but I'll point out that Apple probably thinks they're doing both—why not, if you legally can?—not one instead of the other. I don't have enough experience with the various products to have an opinion on whether they're right.

Re:Software Patents Should Be Abolished (0)

WitnessForTheOffense (1669778) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025616)

Having a cult following of dedicated customers: priceless. For everything else, there's patent trolling.

Re:Software Patents Should Be Abolished (1)

registrationssucks (2352628) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025882)

All patents should be abolished. If the government and the people still feel the need to reward "inventors", then they should use the general tax revenue to reward people for that purpose. When patents were enshrined into US law, there was no income tax and no means to express this well-meaining, however market-distorting, sentiment. The US is a manufacturing country and will make a lot more with patents out of the way and more lawyers working real jobs or taking up better causes (e.g., War on Drugs, fighting copyright lunacy).

Re:Software Patents Should Be Abolished (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025968)

> The idea that I can "create" something intangible, easily replicated, and quite literally out of nothing simply by typing some characters on
> a keyboard is absolutely insane, and should never have been allowed in the first place.

Believe it or not, it gets worse. About 10-15 years ago, copyright was extended beyond mere mechanical reproduction of blueprints to actual architectural design. So, someone who comes up with an "innovation" like a garage with built-in recess to accommodate an electric-car charger could conceivably sue anybody else who designs/builds a house with a similar charger alcove. Had similar protection existed 50 years ago, things like attached 3-car garages with larger third bay for a boat or RV, pass-through breakfast bars, and bedrooms with adjacent-but-separate sitting areas could have been copyrighted for 100+ years as well. So far, most of the lawsuits have been over things like exterior appearance and between builders copying each other's floorplans, but the law itself imposes no real hard limits to what can be considered copyrightable, nor any minimum threshold before something can be classified as "infringing".

Pick your sources wisely, PCMag (4, Informative)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025296)

If only they'd cited Florian Mueller near the beginning instead of at the end! Then I wouldn't have to have read so much to know that PCMag doesn't know what it's talking about.

Re:Pick your sources wisely, PCMag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025728)

Is Florian Mueller the king of Slashdot? It seems so since he gets mentioned more than any other single person.

Re:Pick your sources wisely, PCMag (3, Informative)

jbernardo (1014507) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025864)

Is Florian Mueller the king of Slashdot? It seems so since he gets mentioned more than any other single person.

Florian Mueller is the current more vocal MS shill in the war against google. Is is doing the same role as Enderle does, only Enderle is by now completely discredited, and some still quote Mueller as if he knew what he is talking about. As usual, your best source is Groklaw, they've discredited many of Mueller's ravings already.

Re:Pick your sources wisely, PCMag (1)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37026116)

He does except for Steve Jobs or Steve Balmer or Larry (get off my boat) Ellison.

Re:Pick your sources wisely, PCMag (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 2 years ago | (#37026196)

Florian Mueller is to Slashdot as Justin Bieber is to Youtube.

Re:Pick your sources wisely, PCMag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025888)

Can someone explain what the problem with Florian is?

I read his blog and his views broadly match my understanding of patent law.

I understand that there was some issue a couple of years ago regarding IBM, an emulator and Groklaw is this the primary issue.

To be clear I don't like software patents and think that the world will be a much better place without them but the reality is that they exist.

Why should we care? (2)

Crayon Kid (700279) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025298)

I realise that Slashdot and PCMag are US-oriented but I'm getting a bit tired of articles written as if what happens in the US affects the whole world. Where is Apple suing HTC and Samsung? In the US. That kind of patent bullshit does not fly everywhere in the world, and HTC and Samsung are not even mainly US-based. Granted, the US is a big important market, but it's not everything.

So ok, worse case scenario, they win and the US is taken over by Apple alone. Frankly, I doubt Microsoft will let that happen, 'cause it needs hardware to put their OS on, and we all know Apple will never let them put it on theirs in a million years. But ok, let's say for the sake of argument.

So? Why should the rest of the world care? I'm seriously asking. How will the rest of the world be affected by a decision given in one country, that's the host of a fairly atypical, malformed and out-of-control patent system? Will they be able to replicate this feat elsewhere in the world?

Re:Why should we care? (1)

ctid (449118) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025374)

I think that you're asking this question a few years too soon. At the moment the size of the US market drives and supports investment. I suspect that you need to be sure that you will sell a large number of devices there before you can afford to develop new products. India and China will eventually start to drive innovation at the cutting edge but individual people there are just not wealthy enough yet. This is speculation because I'm not an expert in this stuff.

Re:Why should we care? (0)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025404)

Hey, you spelled "realize" wrong. ;)

Slashdot editors: Can we have "tech+US law" section so that parent can filter them out, and I can read them religiously?

You hit the 'nail on the head' (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025424)

Many folks here address issues from a US of A perspective then extend their often flawed logic to world scenarios.

In reality, if Android lost the battle, it would still flourish in the rest of the world, as it is doing now.

Heck, Nokia is almost unheard of in major US markets, but is doing quite well worldwide.

I liked your assertion:

...Granted, the US is a big important market, but it's not everything...

Re:Why should we care? (3, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025564)

You should care because if Android phones lose the entire US market, they will become much less profitable to make. As a result, companies will either spend less money making them or raise their prices, since engineering costs will now be amortized over a smaller number of sales. Likewise, app developers will shift their focus towards iOS, so that they can reach the US market.

End result, Android phones become more expensive, lose their edge on hardware, and get fewer apps developed for them.

Economies are interconnected. Don't think for one moment that bad things happening in one part of the world won't ripple over and affect you.

Re:Why should we care? (1)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025656)

So? Why should the rest of the world care? I'm seriously asking. How will the rest of the world be affected by a decision given in one country, that's the host of a fairly atypical, malformed and out-of-control patent system? Will they be able to replicate this feat elsewhere in the world?

To answer you more seriously (though just off the top of my head) than in my other reply, it seems likely to me that a business would spread its costs out as much as possible, in order to minimize the burden on consumers. If HTC or Samsung has higher costs (from patent licensingfees) in bringing a phone to market in the US, that would then mean that consumers of those brands in every country would pay a (slightly) higher price for their phones. Further, as you say, the US is "a big important market"—I have no data, but the US is a big enough market that it seems at least plausible that in some cases it might not be financially worthwhile to make Phone X if you can't sell it in the US (obviously for other phones it could be and is worthwhile).

Re:Why should we care? (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025698)

Isn't Apple also trying to get an injunction on Samsung tablets in Australia?

Re:Why should we care? (4, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#37026034)

So? Why should the rest of the world care? I'm seriously asking. How will the rest of the world be affected by a decision given in one country, that's the host of a fairly atypical, malformed and out-of-control patent system?

Because the US government spends a considerable amount of time and effort trying to push their concept of 'Intellectual Property' on the rest of the world.

Google would pay (1)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025350)

Google would pay. The amount of information that they can collect through these devices is too valuable for them to toss in their cards. Either that or they remove the infringing bits of code, some of which aren't vital to Android, as best they can or find ways to get around them. Additionally, they could just buy some patents of their own, grouping with whomever else they need to and use that to strengthen their position.

One way or another, though, they're going to need to pay something to someone. Hell, they've probably already wasted more in legal fees with Oracle than if they would have just worked out a licensing deal with Sun. They might as well cut their losses and make the deals that they need to now.

No more Apple for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025410)

I had an iPhone 3G, and this crap makes me want to punch people. If Apple can't compete, that's their fault. The patent system needs to be reworked to make competition a level playing field, as opposed to a legal wasteland that prevents good products from reaching their potential.

Well. (2)

drolli (522659) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025418)

Google patents are not so many. But the companies who would be immediately hurt - they hold a lot. I mean the idea of starting a all-out patent-war against Sony, HTC, Samsung, Dell, Archos, Asus and some chinese manufacturerers (many of them veterans in the PIM/mobile business), which could block a company easily from half of the markets, would be stupid. I mean sure Apple *could* bet that Sony does not find some Japan-only patents (yeah, they exist) (moreover in JP they would go against NTT...). Sure they can bet that the legal fight in intransparent judical systems are worth it.

It would be much more reasonable to compate the patent stack and pay some money and settle the thing by agreeing not to step on anybodies feet.

How can Google win with only 1000 patents? (2)

paulsnx2 (453081) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025420)

Well, take a page from Intellectual Ventures.

Sell a few selected patents to an independent shell company. That company, which neither creates or sells products and is out of the control of Google, will be free to sue Apple and Oracle (and any other threat to the Android market) freely for patent infringement, but not Google (due to a contract that went along with the sell). This independent company cannot be targeted for patent infringement no matter how many patents Apple and company might have. Any funds can flow to filing more patents and buying more patents in order to maintain their attacks.

Or better yet, funds collected might be used to fund patent reform efforts (again by contract).

1000 patents is plenty to launch a number of these companies, which could cause Apple huge amounts of damage, while Google itself (not really making phones directly) would be largely immune from this sort of attach.

I have been thinking about this for a while, and can't really see a flaw in the approach, other than it is really Evil.

Re:How can Google win with only 1000 patents? (1)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025730)

Well it protects from the definition of counter-suing, but apple would know what it is and file a suit out of spite anyway. In addition every patent google sold to be used offensively, is a patent they can't use defensively. So Troll Inc sues apple for multitouch idea X, apple sues google for multitouch idea X, apple blocks lawsuit from troll inc with their patent, then attacks google, google is defenseless because they don't have the patent.

The outcome is simple (2)

Wokan (14062) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025442)

I tether a laptop to a feature phone and tell Apple, Microsoft, and Nokia to suck it.

Florian Müller again (2)

jeti (105266) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025446)

I immediately loaded the article and searched for "Florian Müller". Imagine my surprise when the name didn't come up. His first mention is on page 2.

How is a horizontal swipe not obvious? (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025472)

but no one has complained about vertical, circular or scribbly swipe? The patents should lie into how swipes are implemented...although i can't imagine algorithms being too different standing on their own as far as code goes but the code is going to be different because the callback mechanisms are different in relation to the OS backend.

Not a Troll, A Serious Question (-1, Troll)

OS24Ever (245667) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025508)

I'm not trolling here, I seriously am not. I'm a guy who likes to make $$, and if I come up with something fancy, some idiot doing the same thing who didn't have the idea until I did does it too, and sells for less than me why should I come up with ideas again?

There's your basic patent argument.

Now, I will happily concede that there are many ideas that are 'well no shit' and not worthy of a patent, however, the iPhone was not a 'no shit really?' idea if you look at phones in 2006.

Sure, there was Palm, and there was Windows. The first was an organizer + Phone and the second was a windows computer shrunk into a phone shaped device.

There was the Blackberry, and while my google fu skills are week there was the rumored 'google phone' that the early units looked remarkably like blackberry/treo 650 of the time.

Then Steve Jobs and Co came by and tossed the grenade that is iPhone onto the market. Google suddenly went quiet, and 9 or so months later came out with this Android thing. It looked a lot like iPhone, you're a lying.

Should Google have to pay apple for their neat idea? Sorry but say hell yes. Before that, I'd have argued they owed Palm, BB and Windows guys some kind of fee and apparently the courts agree with the Windows side of things.

Now. Should Google have to pay Apple for the next 75 years? hell no. That's the kind of reform we should be fighting for. Ideas should have some kind of time line when you can be exclusive if you want, or sell to others to use if you want. After that, screw it. Not all ideas are groundbreaking to deserve huge benefits of time either. like say, oh, updating your computer over the internet kind of patents. There has to be a middle ground.

Who am I kidding. There is no middle ground, burn everyone

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025618)

As a "whole" the iphone is protected by copyright law.

The patent law says that an idea in the iphone could be own, and not used elsewhere.

The individual patents (like swiping your finger) however, are ridiculous. This is nothing more than "click drag" with your mouse. Yet, they could use this one "patent" to hold back and sue their competitors.

What's worse, is MS sueing but not even explaining what patents they are going after, just a "YOU ARE INFRINGING, GIVE US MONEY OR WE WILL COST YOU MORE MONEY IN LAW SUITS". This is extortion!

I hope this helps you to see why software patents are so bad.

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (1)

Jessified (1150003) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025648)

What the hell is wrong with competition?! Ideas are nothing, implementation is everything. If Apple didn't have incentive to keep creating after Android supposedly 'copied' them, then they would have dropped out of the smartphone market. Android is a better product. So what if it has some similarities to Apple??? Let them duke it out in the marketplace, not the courtrooms.

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025744)

Agreed, mod points be dammed. Patents are stifling technology development by the small people. What we need are more engineers and fewer lawyers

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (1)

livingboy (444688) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025700)

Actually iPhone was not the first, first version was done in Finland, but not by Nokia, as pioneers they didn't have the ecosystem so there was no market and first try did bankrupt.

http://gizmodo.com/231186/myorigo-mydevice-becomes-relevant-again-thanks-to-the-iphone [gizmodo.com]

So there is previous art before iPhone, I wonder who owns the patents that Finns made or was there even patents made, at least that some serious previous art :-)

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025704)

you seem to be confusing patents and copyright

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025712)

Thing is Google aren't stupid. They'll wait until their market share is really high in mobile then start charging for Android.

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025858)

>charging for easily-forked open-source code without guaranteeing commercial-grade support
A herp and a derp.

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025732)

While the iPhone may not be a 'no shit' device, the patents are not on the iPhone. They are on specific components of a mobile phone. Some of those components are of the 'no shit' type. One of the more publicised ones is on the use of a slide gesture to unlock the phone.

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025758)

Umm, you can't patent an idea. You do know that, right? You can only patent an implementation. A huge part of the problem with software and business method patents is that they come very close to patenting ideas rather than implementations; thus the ongoing arguments over whether they should be allowed.

I'd also like to throw just a little reality into this conversation. You may have an idea nobody has had before. You're much more likely to be struck by lightning while being attacked by a shark than for this to be true, but let's just go with it. The patent system is not there to protect your idea. Not in any way, shape or form. It's there so that if you find a way of making that idea into reality that is so clever and non-obvious that nobody else can figure it out, you might be persuaded to tell people how you did it so they can learn and carry forward from there.

How do you get persuaded? By being granted an artificial monopoly to replace the natural one you would have had otherwise. If that's not a good deal for you, keep it as a trade secret and move on. Either way, you're gonna be on a ticking clock as far as being the exclusive provider of whatever your widget is, so you might as well get used to that idea and get to work on the next one.

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (1)

FlyingGuy (989135) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025782)

The ONLY things that should be patentable are physical devices.

ANYTHING other then that is covered by copyright.

You come up with a fancy new IC that increases radio reception by 10 fold, it is a physical device and can therefor be patented and under your control and you will sell them by the truck load or license the manufacture of the device and collect royalties. The WORLD will beat a path to your door trying to get it. Some companies will offer you huge sums for an exclusive license.

Software patents on the other hand are ludicrous on their face. You say you have a patent on Linked Lists? Well you pretty much own ALL software EVERYWHERE no matter who wrote the linked list code, no matter the language. That is wrong.

If your code is copyrighted then NO ONE ELSE can use YOUR code that YOU wrote and this is where some fools think that patents should apply since you wrote code that does compression very very well and you can reduce the OED to 10,000 bytes. Well sorry dude I can write that 10% better but using pretty much the same Linked Lists and compression algorithms, but I found a way to fold constants better then you did and my code is better, but it is not YOUR code, it is MY code and I copyrighted it IN TOTAL as a body of work that has a beginning and end end, as does yours but they are different works just like two books about the same subject are two different works that lead to the same conclusion.

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | more than 2 years ago | (#37026054)

> The ONLY things that should be patentable are physical devices.
> ANYTHING other then that is covered by copyright.

Actually, that argument is kind of like advocating cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. As bad as software patents are, replacing them with copyrights would be worse. At least patents aren't eternal in duration and expire someday. If only literal sourcecode could be copyrighted, I'd be in agreement. However, if you're going to allow copyright to be blurred into 'look & feel' issues that currently get rammed into the 'patent' realm, it would quickly become impossible to write any kind of meaningful program for commercial gain.

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025830)

then there was linux based PDA's with phones in them (sony) then palm phones and a half dozen others then Opps apple "innovated" the smartphone and all other phones before it did not exist

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (2)

brainzach (2032950) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025854)

Ideas are cheap. It is the implementation of the idea that is so difficult.

There were natural barriers to entry into the industry which gave Apple a big advantage for 2 to 3 years. Developing a mobile OS that can compete with iOS is not easy to do and not cheap. Apple was able to crush the competition because it executed their platform better than anyone else without the need for patents.

It wasn't until Google and Microsoft finally came out with products that were in comparable quality to the iPhone that Apple started to get sue happy. Instead of out innovating the competition like in the past, they are just using the legal system to give themselves a competitive advantage while hurting innovation in the industry.

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025910)

It looked a lot like iPhone, you're a lying.

Forget part of your sentence there?

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025974)

You forgot to point out that Apple invented Multitasking. Or did they simply raise the bar for pr?

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (1)

organgtool (966989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37026012)

I'm not trolling here, I seriously am not. I'm a guy who likes to make $$, and if I come up with something fancy, some idiot doing the same thing who didn't have the idea until I did does it too, and sells for less than me why should I come up with ideas again?

Your idea isn't worth shit. If you implemented that idea using a unique and non-obvious technique, then you would have an invention which may be worth patenting. The problem is that software is implemented via code and code is covered by copyright law, not patents. You are right in that "some idiot" should not be able copy your code and sell it for less, but you're trying to prevent other people from investing their own time and resources to create a similar product from scratch.

Now, I will happily concede that there are many ideas that are 'well no shit' and not worthy of a patent, however, the iPhone was not a 'no shit really?' idea if you look at phones in 2006.

Yes, it was. Clearly you have never heard of the LG Prada [wikipedia.org] . It contained a large capacitive touchscreen and was released before the iPhone had even been unveiled.

Then Steve Jobs and Co came by and tossed the grenade that is iPhone onto the market. Google suddenly went quiet, and 9 or so months later came out with this Android thing. It looked a lot like iPhone, you're a lying.

How did Android look like iOS? Because it had a desktop with a grid of icons? Because it had menus? You are making very serious claims without being the least bit specific.

Re:Not a Troll, A Serious Question (1)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#37026200)

Who am I kidding. There is no middle ground, burn everyone

I second that. Let's kill them all. And so, it begins.

Not going to Happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025584)

Apple will not succeed in any of this the law suits are ridiculous suing over shape and size and so forth, not to mention Android does way more then the icrapPad I think Apple is afraid of losing there market share and reaching pretty far trying to quash any and all competitors. Good luck with that android already has a huge market share and Microsoft is also coming down the pipe this fall so I am sure we will see apple suing them as well. Hey apple might as well go after HP for the slate while your at it.

Vote with your wallet don't buy anything apple.

Writing on the Wall (1)

organgtool (966989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025762)

In my opinion, Google does not spend billions of dollars patenting every little obvious feature of their software because they know that software patents will eventually be gone. However, the U.S. appears completely serious about software patents given that the current patent reform bill contains no language that would improve the software patent situation, let alone abolish them. Since our political system is owned by corporations, software patent reform won't happen until the most powerful corporations pay more in patent licensing fees than they make. In other words, we're going to continue to quibbling over who came up with an IDEA first (not an invention) while the rest of the world makes progress and slowly out-innovates us. Why compete based on merit when you can set up artificial barriers that prevent competition in the first place?

It won't work. (1)

Borg Bucolic (1342221) | more than 2 years ago | (#37025784)

I have seen how people act about their phones. They have the attitude of "from my cold dead hands" of an NRA freak mixed equally with the behaviors of a meth addict. They can sue until the cows come home, but the cat has gotten out of carrier. You won't be able to put it back in. Android phones (or the like) will go underground like drugs. All the enforcement (patent or otherwise) won't change that. It would only become a question of how to get them over the border.

Get real! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025912)

Apple doesn't even have hundreds of patents related to smartphones, let alone thousands. Apple has perhaps 300 patent /applications/ related to smartphones and most were filed within several months' time of the iPhone introduction in January 2007. Google is late to the patent party because Google is not the primer innovator in the smartphone space. It's tough scheiss for them, but Google will try to steal the technology anyway, just like they copied every book they could get without prior permission of the copyright holders. To Google, stealing seems to be synonymous with innovating.

Depends on the area of the Patent (1)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 2 years ago | (#37026066)

If they are software patents then most countries are not affected. The problem would be mostly the USA and Japan. If I am not mistaken: China, India and the EU do not have software patents. Also in Latin America there should be no problem selling such phones. And I doubt that it is any different in Africa. So in the end it is a local problem.

If these patents are on hardware designs, the situation would be slightly different. And it could be a big issue. However, on the hardware market this is no longer a game Google against Apple, Nokia and Microsoft. It is a game Samsung, HTC, etc. against Nokia and Apple against RIM.

Joke bidding on patents now used against them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37026120)

Maybe they should have been more serious about bidding [slashdot.org] for the patents that are now being used against them.
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