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Google Says Some Apple Inventions Are So Great They Should Be Shared

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the gem-of-an-idea-in-there dept.

Google 347

An anonymous reader writes "In attempting to fend off Apple's suit against Motorola Mobility and advancing its own patent litigation against Apple, Google, which is facing a lot of regulatory scrutiny in the U.S. and abroad over what some allege is abuse of standard essential patents, has been arguing that proprietary non-standardized technologies that become ubiquitous due to their popularity with consumers should be considered de facto standards."

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Duh! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40722841)

Obvious.

ur mum (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40722843)

yeah, her

Google's desires (3, Insightful)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 2 years ago | (#40722849)

Google wishes to embrace and exploit.

Re:Google's desires (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40722937)

Well, as long as they don't embrace, extend, extinguish...

Re:Google's desires (5, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723077)

That's kind of why there is a patent system.

Patents aren't supposed to be a virtual land grab. They're supposed to be a means for companies to disclose useful trade secrets.

All human progress is based on "embrace and exploit". This includes just the fact that you even exist as well as your cushy lifestyle. It also includes this forum.

All of that is dependent on centuries of what modern corporate shills would call "theft".

Re:Google's desires (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723491)

Google wishes to embrace and exploit.

Who doesn't?

Google is more evil than Microsoft ever was (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40722857)

Re:Google is more evil than Microsoft ever was (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723205)

You;re not wrong

http://googleopoly.net/Googles_Rap_Sheet.pdf [googleopoly.net]

Re:Google is more evil than Microsoft ever was (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723207)

If you're going to say Google is evil, please link better texts in the future. The provided one lacks content. Hint: use Google to find more anti-Google "facts".

Re:Google is more evil than Microsoft ever was (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723271)

Why don't you click some of the short URLS in the pdf for some actual facts

Re:Google is more evil than Microsoft ever was (4, Insightful)

Riceballsan (816702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723503)

Almost all of the ones I saw in the PDF were pretty bogus ones. Claims by competitors that google pushes it's own results to the top of the results. So far I've yet to see a case for that one presented convincingly, the top results tend to be whatever is most often the more popular item, in things that google is the most popular, google's items show up, in the ones they aren't their competitors show up. Then warnings and alogations of patent abuse. Can you even name a time google used a patent offensively? Can you crop out the fat and point out 1 or 2 that google was actually ruled guilty in, most of those are either undecided or not found not guilty. I'm not saying google isn't debatably bad, I'm saying that particular list is focusing on pretty ridiculous stuff. Google deserves quite a bit of flack in the privacy area, but their patent practice in the phone arena? I've yet to see them do anything shady in that arena besides attempt to cover their own ass from incoming fire.

I Dunno... Let's Ask John Galt What He Thinks... (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 2 years ago | (#40722859)

It's getting scary out there, kids...

Re:I Dunno... Let's Ask John Galt What He Thinks.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40722885)

He would say that the best company should win and everyone else should die.

Re:I Dunno... Let's Ask John Galt What He Thinks.. (5, Funny)

hamburger lady (218108) | more than 2 years ago | (#40722969)

only he would deliver that message in a 13-hour long monologue. then rape someone. what stamina!

Re:I Dunno... Let's Ask John Galt What He Thinks.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723043)

And anyone who disagrees with him as to which the best company is, is immoral, and should not be allowed to exist.

Bad Idea (5, Insightful)

CajunArson (465943) | more than 2 years ago | (#40722865)

That strategy might work in the media to get people angry at Apple, but it's a bad idea in a court. You are basically admitting that Apple is right, but then saying it doesn't matter because it "oughta be" a standard. At that point the judge will say: thanks for admitting Apple is right to save me the bother of the trial. Not a smart move.

      Considering what Apple's patents tend to be about (swip to unlock anyone?) they may be annoying but they aren't what I would call "standards" in the way that 802.11 is a standard.

Re:Bad Idea (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40722889)

What makes you think it's exclusively about swipe to unlock?

Apple have claimed ownership of, amongst other things, the concept of a rectangular portable touch screen. Microsoft meanwhile extract patent royalties from FAT, a filesystem so atrocious the only reason anyone uses it at all is because it's very old and therefore ubiquitous.

Re:Bad Idea (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723007)

Please show us a source where Apple claims to have patented the concept of a 'rectangular portable touch screen'.

[Citation Needed]

Re:Bad Idea (0)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723081)

It's one of their "design patents".

Re:Bad Idea (0)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723247)

It's one of their "design patents".

Again, [citation needed] I'm not aware of any such patent. Please link it.

Re:Bad Idea (4, Informative)

FromWithin (627720) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723399)

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723583)

Haha. That is not a patent on a rectangle. It's a patent on the ornamental design of an iPad.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723595)

Baldness is a hair style.

Atheism is a religion.

Lack of ornamentation is an ornamental design.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723427)

Go take a look at all the arguments in various courts where Apple attempts to convince a judge that Samsungs tablets are too similar to the iPad (obviously, with them switched off - if they were on the differences would be immediately obvious to anyone). Apples arguments boiled down to, they are both rectangular, "look simple" and have big screens on the front.

Re:Bad Idea (4, Insightful)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723093)

true... swipe to unlock is nothing like, say, GSM radio communications.

that's why the GSM patent is licensed at 1p per device and swipe to unlock licensed at $1m (if not an entire country's worth of imports of that device).

The reason we have so many shite patents is because of the financial shakedown they attract. Making them 'de facto' and thus next-to-worthless would be a start in fixing the software patent problem.

I decree that... (4, Interesting)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#40722877)

Translation: Steve's gone, mind if we drive?

So would an analogue be the steering wheel? (2)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#40722883)

I mean, technically you COULD direct a car (or almost any vehicle, they're so ubiquitous) without it but they're so useful it seems almost mandatory. (I think, maybe, the first Wright brother's planes didn't use them but last I checked they're actually two of them in every cockpit). I'm not a patent attorney or IP expert so this is just my guess as to what the issues are.

However, that's a pretty high "standard". What should be the standard? Should it be determined by a popularity contest? User interface designer's testimony? Shouldn't Apple be entitled to something (I mean they spent time and money coming up with their ideas, not to mention that "utility" patents which are essential, are not free).

Yet another issue to be debated during possible patent reform.

Re:So would an analogue be the steering wheel? (2)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 2 years ago | (#40722917)

Last time I checked the F15 had a joystick and I wish my car had one. Who needs a big wheel up front? It's high time to embrace some new tech. I'd like a HUD display too. Every car should have one.

Re:So would an analogue be the steering wheel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723069)

most of the time an airplane has a lot more wiggle room than a car, in a car you are basically a meter from disaster from start to finish

Re:So would an analogue be the steering wheel? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723193)

A joystick in a car would be stupid. Cars are not fly by wire systems; they are mechanical (with some hydraulic support via "power steering", but even when the power steering fails the car can be controlled via the mechanical wheel). Can you imagine the force required to control a car via a joystick if you had to keep it mechanical? If you then made it a completely drive by wire system, you just added a bunch of complexity and failure modes to what should be a ubiquitous and (fairly) inexpensive object. You've taken a simple, cheap design and made it cost more simply to have a less efficient steering mechanism. Why? It is designed pretty damn well now.

Re:So would an analogue be the steering wheel? (3, Funny)

MrDoh! (71235) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723307)

If we're changing it from the steering wheel, instead of a joystick, can we use a mouse and WASD? That should work far better for a vehicle that only operates in a 2D plane.

Re:So would an analogue be the steering wheel? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723349)

Well, drive by wire might be a good transition step towards driverless cars, for one thing...

Re:So would an analogue be the steering wheel? (1)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723439)

You are assuming that a fly-by-wire system is more failure prone then the standard mechanical linkages, it is possible that a fly-by-wire system could be simpler and less failure prone then the current systems. And even "basic" models of cars these days have so many electronic extras that fly-by-wire is likely to be a minor additional cost if any at all.

Fly-by-wire has been done in the past, people just prefer having a steering wheel because they are used to it. I think that as more cars transition to be being capable of autonomous driving then people will drop the huge bulky wheel in favour of a small joystick that can be used when needed.

Re:So would an analogue be the steering wheel? (4, Informative)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723541)

Many disabled people control their car via a joystick [elap.co.uk] .

Re:So would an analogue be the steering wheel? (2)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723589)

He mentioned the F-15 joystick and now you are talking about fly-by-wire controls...

You do know the joystick steering in an F-15 is all hydraulic/mechanical, right? The F-16 was the first to have fly-by-wire... and the original reason for fly-by-wire was the issue of constant computer input being necessary with an dynamically unstable shape, rather than any concerns about weight or complexity.

Re:So would an analogue be the steering wheel? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723327)

F-15, F-16, F-18, probably the F-22 too but I haven't sat in one of those cockpits the joystick isn't used for 75% of the flight. Those planes are so sensitive to the control stick that the pilots fly using adjustment wheels. (think mouse wheel style) where two or three wheel clicks is enough to turn the plane.

Re:So would an analogue be the steering wheel? (3, Informative)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723571)

You're thinking of the trimmers, there's a subtly different function. Trim wheels are used because the central position on the joystick is the "neutral" position for the ailerons and rudder, which is different to the "fly straight" position, which changes depending on airspeed, engine RPM, altitude and so on. The neutral position may make the plane fly straight and level at 300kts at 1000ft, but won't at 400kts. The trim wheels are used to offset the control surfaces so the neutral position on the joystick is flat and level. They can also be used, as you mention, to control the aircraft to a certain extent if the primary control (joystick) fails for any reason, planes have been landed using trim wheels only, but it's not recommended unless you have no other option.

In a car the equivalent would be a trim wheel to correct for a camber in the road or crosswind so you're not always steering slightly to one side.

Re:So would an analogue be the steering wheel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723597)

As a pilot of the F-15, F-16, and F-18, you are completely off base. The stick is used for 100% of the flight. There are no adjustment wheels.

Re:So would an analogue be the steering wheel? (3, Interesting)

ninetyninebottles (2174630) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723403)

I'd like a HUD display too. Every car should have one.

Having been peripherally involved in the design of HUD systems for some american car companies, no you do not want a HUD system designed by a committee and managed by a US car company exec who still thinks more and bigger is better. Just look at some of the Windows based touchscreens in recent models and imagine a similar quality of design popping up in front of your face while you're trying to drive.

Re:So would an analogue be the steering wheel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723387)

When I hear things like this, it makes me wonder... Exactly how much time and effort went into developing "swipe to unlock?" Maybe I could agree that developing a communication protocol, or a new physical cable connector, or a search engine algorithm could be involved enough to warrant patent protection. But Apple took "drag" and used it on the lock screen. Wow. If I take an existing thing and add "on the lock screen of a mobile device," I shouldn't get a license to print money - I should receive only scorn for requesting a patent.

Let the consumer choose (0)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 2 years ago | (#40722887)

What Google and Samsung should do, is make their products highly customizable. Allow the user to design their own product. Want rounded corners instead of sharp ones? There you go. Want a black border around your screen? No problem. Want an aluminum case? Want some fruit depicted on the back of your device? Etc.

That way, they avoid litigation, and give the users exactly what they want. Everybody happy, (except maybe Apple, who wants to give us all the same hamburger, like McDonald's does.)

Re:Let the consumer choose (2)

Jesus_C_of_Nazareth (2629713) | more than 2 years ago | (#40722987)

What Google and Samsung should do, is make their products highly customizable. Allow the user to design their own product. Want rounded corners instead of sharp ones? There you go. Want a black border around your screen? No problem. Want an aluminum case? Want some fruit depicted on the back of your device? Etc. That way, they avoid litigation, and give the users exactly what they want. Everybody happy, (except maybe Apple, who wants to give us all the same hamburger, like McDonald's does.)

Sure, and Samsung could claim to be a sovereign citizen. They could then send Apple a letter, informing them that reading the letter constitutes the agreement of a contract whereby Apple will pay Samsung $10,000,000 in gold coins and Infowars Dollars.*


* I am not a lawyer.

Re:Let the consumer choose (5, Insightful)

JayDiggity (70168) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723029)

Are you kidding me? Do you think the average (even above-average) user wants to go through PAGES and PAGES of radio buttons? Rounded vs. sharp corners? Why not allow them to determine just HOW round? Now we've gone from radio buttons to sliders everywhere.

Seriously, customize EVERYTHING? You can do that in Linux - look at how well that worked out for the consumer.

Re:Let the consumer choose (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723039)

While it's an interesting idea, it brings along a whole lot of problems and inconveniences of its own.

Letting the customer choose means there will be many different variations of the same device. This makes maintaining a stock supply impossible for small retail outlets, and makes it a pain in the ass for the distribution centers aswell.

Also, needing only 1 specific version of your products casing means you can get a massive volume discount from , When you need multiple different shapes or even just colors, this discount grows smaller which increases the price of the final product.

You lose brand/product recognition because they all look different.

Documentation and product art decline in quality because the pictures don't really match the actual product that the user is holding. I'm sure you've come across product manuals that cover the entire productrange of a device, it always makes them a pain to read because every other step there is a note that mentions "If you have model X then use the red button, if you have model Y then press the blue button instead. If you have model Z-Deluxe then you can use the wireless application blabla".

I'm sure there's many more minor disadvantages, especially in areas like fabrication, storage, ordering process, etc. Not to mention that i'm not so sure it would absolve them of litigation. It's still an interesting idea though.

Re:Let the consumer choose (4, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723339)

apples pricing on the Ipad is only becuase they manufacture one or two styles at the same time.

What the competitors need to do is to stop pumping out new models and build just a couple high quailty models

Re:Let the consumer choose (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723599)

I really don't see the need to spend $400 on an outdated tablet. I can buy an Android tablet, brand new, for $200. If I wanted bleeding edge, I can buy an Asus EEE Pad Transformer for $500 (the same price of a bottom-end iPad 3) and have a lot better specs (double the storage space, better CPU, better camera, etc.).

lolz (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40722901)

Sez Apple,

The capabilities of an iPhone are categorically different from a conventional phone

That's right. It can make calls, and texts, and run apps, and view maps and play music and view the web .... wait. I'm pretty sure my old Sony Ericsson candybar phone could do all of those things. It could also receive FM radio.

I wonder, do these people really believe what they say, or is it just a job to them?

Re:lolz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40722993)

If a corporation can be a person then it can develop a personality disorder. Oh, IDK, let's say... Narcissistic Personality Disorder ?

Re:lolz (2)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723311)

Or even full-on psychopathy [wikipedia.org] ...

Re:lolz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723367)

Still using that phone?

Google facing regulatory scrutiny? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40722903)

Google, which is facing a lot of regulatory scrutiny in the U.S. and abroad over what some allege is abuse of standard essential patents

What? Somehow I didn't get that memo.

Re:Google facing regulatory scrutiny? (3, Interesting)

ninetyninebottles (2174630) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723417)

Google bought Motorola. If you haven't heard about their FRAND patent licensing and the investigation thereof, you might want to get more background before reading this story.

nothing "great" about it (5, Interesting)

khipu (2511498) | more than 2 years ago | (#40722925)

Interface standards are not about "great technology", they are about convention and usability. There's little that's ever been innovative about how steering wheels look or work, where the hand brake goes in a car, how you turn on a TV or a light, etc.; many of those are just arbitrary choices. But there is a huge benefit to having these items standardized so that consumers can easily move from one car to another. The same is even more true for user interfaces: user interfaces benefit tremendously from standardization. Apple's user interface elements aren't "great" or innovative, they simply set the standard because Apple is first.

(And most of Apple's user interface elements aren't even Apple's inventions; sliding switches on touch screens, for example, were not invented by Apple, Apple just copied them and then patented their application to unlocking.)

Re:nothing "great" about it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723229)

[Citation Required], buddy.

Re:nothing "great" about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723291)

As was covered here recently.

Slide to unlock existed on the swedish Neonode mobile phone, before the iphone. All Apple did was add a graphical square that moved with the finger.

Re:nothing "great" about it (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723321)

I agree. And the law should be changed to allow for patenting branding elements but not functionality. The problem is that isn't the law right now.

As for Apple's not being great or innovative I disagree. I think the decade of other competitors like RIM, the earlier versions of Android, Palm, Windows Phone... show how innovative Apple's ideas were.

Re:nothing "great" about it (3, Interesting)

Truedat (2545458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723361)

I see a lot of these verbose types of argument that fails to get to the point. Yes Apple patents a lot of stuff that shouldn't be patentable. So does google by the way and so does Microsoft and everyone else. A lot of those inventions don't even originate in house either, just look at googles buyout of Swallow for example. However given these shitty rules that they play by are the same for all of them.

All you have done is go off on a hateful rant with nothing to back up those rantings, you have to explain why one company should have to forced to share it's own shitty patents with everybody else. What you've done is made an attack at the patent system and tried to attach Apples name to this uniquely, your words could apply equally to any of the major players. For example does google share its search patents with everybody? I don't know the answer to that but I don't see anybody looking into it round here either.

Does anybody else find it weird when supposedly intelligent people don't even _try_ to see all companies in the same light? That sort of blinkered view must spill out into other areas of thinking, in a way that must hurt reasoning skills.

Re:nothing "great" about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723395)

Oh so very wrong. The modern standard for the various switches and pedals in a car have indeed been invented by Cadilliac almost 100 years ago. The type 53 set the standard, the Austin 7 made it popular. ALL cars up until today have been made following that basic recipe. Before the type 53, all cars were awkward and terrible to use. Just like what Apple did with the smartphone and the tablet and the GUI of PCs. (but xerox blabla...unfinished/not marketable prototype!!!) The ONLY difference : Cadilliac has not filed a suit. Apple does. (I am not saying that that is wrong to do)

So yes. There ARE inventions, very important inventions regarding the User interface !!

Wrong title (1)

k(wi)r(kipedia) (2648849) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723489)

Right. The title of the summary and article should instead read "Google says some Apple inventions are so obvious they should be shared". Apple's insistence that designs should differ vastly goes against the long tradition of artistic emulation and imitation. How many can really tell the difference beween Raphael and Michelangelo?

implementation (1)

RLBrown (889443) | more than 2 years ago | (#40722933)

I believe this would be implemented as follows. First, a patent is submitted by interested parties to a neutral standards group. If the group decides the patent covers something essential to the functionality of products across the given industry, they grant a mechanical license. This means anyone gets to use the patented idea, but must pay a fixed predetermined fee to the patent holder. I can think of some patents that I wish had been handled that way, for example back up cameras on cars -- so useful for safety, that it should be universally available to all car manufacturers. A company might even come to hope that its patent is selected for such licensing, as it becomes a standard every manufacturer will use, giving a guaranteed revenue stream to the originating company.

Re:implementation (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723003)

Let's say one accepted your proposal - it still needs a tweak.

1) The original patent creator must be able to implement and sell the product with the patent for three years before this 'mechanical license' is implemented for other holders.

2) No government entity can be on the board of the standards group.

3) No person associated with any company involved can be on the standards group nor can they go to work for nor accept any payment or benefit from any company who would benefit for a period of ten years.

This still leaves the problem that patents are being granted too easily for way too many obvious things.

Re:implementation (2)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723343)

No government entity can be on the board of the standards group.

Who do you think enforces patent law and licensing agreements? The government needs involvement because you can't have the committee deciding one thing and governments disagreeing. And no governments are not going to agree to blindly follow some committee that is not subject to their input.

Re:implementation (4, Informative)

ninetyninebottles (2174630) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723443)

2) No government entity can be on the board of the standards group.

So you think patents should be enforced as decided by the categorization of a group of individuals not elected by a democratic process, but chosen by corporations? I'll call Ben Franklin's zombie and he'll be over to slap you momentarily.

Re:implementation (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723057)

Or why not just get rid of patents? That way, people and market competitors can invent their own variations without having to worry about lawsuits or paying extortion money for ideas at all.

Re:implementation (2)

jbolden (176878) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723359)

Because some things are expensive to invent and easy to copy. For example drugs. Without strong patent protection and very high fees generated from it pharmaceutical research would mostly stop.

Or, as we used to say in the laboratory (2)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#40722947)

What's mine is mine, and what's yours is ours.

Re:Or, as we used to say in the laboratory (1)

Truedat (2545458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723373)

Or as my dad used to say: "what's yours is mine and what's mine's me own".

Ferengi Rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723455)

Pretty much say it with style.

I had a poster sized copy on the wall of my office in a commercial nuclear power plant for a while, the "executives" were NOT AMUSED; like I REALLY give a damn about what a bunch of suits who are not qualified to sign off on a single piece of paper having to do with the design, maintenance, or operation of the plant think?

The local NRC resident inspector thought it was a very appropriate demonstration of professional ethics; then again, that was over two decades ago now.

Working as intended (2)

hythlodayr (709935) | more than 2 years ago | (#40722957)

By offering as reason that certain patent becomes crucial before it expires as a reason for being shared, Google is basically shooting down their own argument. Barring patent-trolling, this is exactly what the patent system was designed to do: Grant a limited monopoly--a short-term disadvantage to everyone else but a high-risk/potentially large-returns investment--to spur constant innovation, which is a long-term benefit to society. Sure, the owner of the patent can choose to share (for a fee of their choosing); but they can also use it as an exclusive seed to build a thriving business. Or do nothing at all. There are many things wrong with the patent system (too longer? too easy to write spurious patents? too hard/expensive to be a lone inventor), but this isn't one of them and I'm disappointed at Google for voicing a short-term view like this.

Turnabout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40722961)

You know, a lot of people make use of the algorithms used by Google to generate its search results and rankings. I think those should be made public as well.

seems more about activsync to me (3, Informative)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 2 years ago | (#40722985)

I didn't see that being a a shot against apple per se - much more microsoft and the exchange activesync suits.

"when one firm publishes information about an otherwise proprietary standard and other firms then independently decide (whether by choice or of necessity) to make complementary investments to support that standard in their products. Because proprietary or de facto standards can have just as important effects on consumer welfare, the Committee’s concern regarding the abuse of SEPs should encompass them as well."

Microsoft has patented exchange activesync, and then licences those patents to companies that want to talk to an exchange server. That's what has most android makers coughing up money to microsoft for - the ability to talk to exchange as an email/calendar client. Note, android developers, like all exchange activesync licencees, have to write their own code against the standard, which changes whenever MS update Exchange server.

Now, Exchange is pretty much ubiquitous in business. Therefore talking to Exchange is a necessary defacto standard, but everybody does it a bit differently as they write their own code. Should the patents covering exchange activesync, as a defacto essential standard, be under scrutiny for abuse by the same body that's investigating FRAND patent holders for abuse of their essential nature?

That seems to be Google's argument, anyway.

Spin doctors (5, Insightful)

slasho81 (455509) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723009)

Apple's PR is doing a great job. Way to spin something into a provocative flamebait. Google didn't say what the title says it did, but timothy just couldn't resist.

Misleading summary (5, Insightful)

dell623 (2021586) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723019)

The summary is misleading. What Google is saying is that if certain patents are considered standard essential for communication (3G, WiFi etc.), then parents on touch screens, scrolling etc. should also be considered the same. Apple would not be forced to share them, they would be forced to license them at a fair cost. Right now, Google-Motorola cannot use their patents the way Apple uses theirs because they are classified as FRAND, whereas Apple can use their patents to force import bans on Motorola and HTC products, for example. Apple would still be paid for the licenses to those patents, but would not be able to refuse to license them or charge an exorbitant fee.

The alternative would be to, you know, not issue broad patents for scrolling and slide to unlock etc.

Re:Misleading summary (4, Insightful)

Karlt1 (231423) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723127)

"Right now, Google-Motorola cannot use their patents the way Apple uses theirs because they are classified as FRAND, "

They were not "classified" as FRAND by some random group of people. Motorola chose to submit their patents to a standard body and agreed to license them under FRAND so they would be part of the standard.

Re:Misleading summary (4, Insightful)

vakuona (788200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723143)

Google-Motorola should not have gotten their patents included in a standard if they intended to use them to beat other competitors over the heads with.

FRAND standards are about interoperability. If you can't implement the 3G standard, you cannot make a smartphone, and the market breaks down.

If you can't use slide to unlock, you can do something different. Annoying as it might be, the very fact that people think slide to unlock is trivial means it shouldn't matter. You could use a combination of the physical button and a soft button to unlock the screen, or may ask the user to touch four points in order. There are way to work around that patent.

However, you cannot work around a patent essential for 3G, therefore it is right that limitations (FRAND) be put if you want a guaranteed return on your investment, which is what being in a standard gives you.

Re:Misleading summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723221)

Except that 3G and WiFi have ratified standards, if you don't implement the standards you can't connect to the network. This means you are forced to license the patents that define the standards and thats why the are supposed to be under FRAND terms.

What Google wants is for Apple's patents to be forced under the same FRAND terms not because they are technically required but because Google claims they are commercially required - that is a phone without these features wouldn't sell very well (it would be a blackberry).

Re:Misleading summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723233)

Google should be fighting patents, not reforming the system. Oracle/Dalvik should have taught them that the only way to win is to do it yourself, which is exactly the problem with software patents.

Re:Misleading summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723253)

FRAND patents were submitted for consideration on those terms. Other patents were not.

So, no, the argument does not make sense. It's just the point Google is forced to argue because the patents they acquired from Motorola that they would like to use as leverage against Apple are FRAND type.

Monopoly vs patent (4, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723035)

Google's argument actually makes sense. As I read it, they're saying that a company which holds a patent on technology that is essential to meet an industry standard must license it in a Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) way. But a company that has such a strong market position (i.e. a monopoly) can use patents to exclude competition. So Google is saying that FRAND should apply whether the technology is required because of an industry standard or because the patent holder has a monopoly.

Re:Monopoly vs patent (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723107)

This could be extended to anything. You could say that Coca Cola's trademark is so strong that competitors have to charge uneconomically low prices to compete with it - hence they are unable to compete because they are not named Coca Cola. Therefore, the brand name is simply required to compete, and Coca Cola should be forced to allow people to sell under their brand in a Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory manner.

Re:Monopoly vs patent (1)

vakuona (788200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723235)

And why has he been modded down? No, the GP's argument does not make sense. Apple is not a monopoly, not even a de facto one.

Apple sells very expensive smartphone (I know, I own one) and if competitors are finding it hard to compete, they should lower their prices.

Google can't complain that it's unfair that they can't create a complete iPhone work-a-like.

Re:Monopoly vs patent (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723111)

I could definitely see why Apple would shoudl that down. They are a big fat Microsoft-wannabe. When the Justice Departments of the nations of the world finally wake up to what's going on, they don't want to be forced to FRAND license all of their vendor-lock inducing technologies.

Nevermind making a connector that looks like an Apple dock connector, Samsung should be able to replicate it completely so that you don't have n+1 stupid proprietary standards. A big part of industrialization was moving away from such bespoke items.

Re:Monopoly vs patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723603)

They will be when they refuse to license their series of patents that they just got granted. Seriously have you read them? You can't make a modern smartphone without them. "Electronic lists" my ass.

Re:Monopoly vs patent (3, Insightful)

Karlt1 (231423) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723133)

"But a company that has such a strong market position (i.e. a monopoly) can use patents to exclude competition. So Google is saying that FRAND should apply whether the technology is required because of an industry standard or because the patent holder has a monopoly."

So does that mean that Google is willing to release the implementations of their search algorithms?

And how is Apple "a monopoly" when Android supposedly outsells iOS 2-1?

Re:Monopoly vs patent (4, Informative)

swillden (191260) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723219)

And how is Apple "a monopoly" when Android supposedly outsells iOS 2-1?

Apple claims that all of those Android phones are violating the patents in question, and wants to shut those sales down, which would make Apple a monopoly.

Re:Monopoly vs patent (3, Informative)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723407)

The very essence of patent law is that it grants a limited time monopoly to the inventor.

That's the whole point of having patents. You can dispute whether patents should exist, but arguing that a patent should be revoked just because it grants a "monopoly" is just stupid.

Re:Monopoly vs patent (3, Informative)

Phroggy (441) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723529)

This is stupid. The WHOLE POINT of a patent is that you get to control the use of your invention, for a limited time. That means you can charge a license fee to let others use your invention, you can let others use it for free, or you can just say NO and not allow anyone else to use your invention. The promise of this control is what incentivizes people to invent cool stuff and then show the world how it was done. If your idea becomes wildly popular, you stand to make buckets of money, and that's a GOOD THING for all of us.

The notion that you should lose patent protection if your idea becomes too popular completely ignores the purpose of having patents.

In order to submit your patented idea to a standards body, you have to agree to FRAND licensing as a condition for consideration. That's a good idea. Without it, we couldn't establish standards that people could actually use, and then nobody wins. Participating companies agree to do this because they WANT other companies to use their technology, for a fee. It's voluntary. Don't want competitors using your ideas, don't submit them to a standards body.

The real problem here is NOT that Apple's slide-to-unlock idea has become so popular that they should be forced to allow other companies to license the patent. The real problem here is that Apple's slide-to-unlock idea should not have been patentable in the first place. Apple was the first to implement the idea, so they got a head start in the market, and that should have been enough. Granting Apple exclusive rights to this idea does not benefit society in any way, because Apple still would have come up with the idea even if they knew everybody else could copy it. Patents are supposed to benefit society by documenting how a technology works, to make it easier for people to copy after the patent expires, and the slide-to-unlock patent does not do that: how the technology works is perfectly obvious to anyone skilled in the art, so the patent itself is useless to us. This patent benefits no one but Apple, and that's not fair.

Here is the problem (5, Insightful)

perrin (891) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723117)

Samsung, Motorola and other old players in the telecoms game have a huge problem today because for many years they have been playing reasonably nice with each other. It used to be that the players came together in standards organizations, agreed on standards, promised to license them to each other on FRAND terms, and then competed on implementation. Then a new kid comes to town who wants everyone to license it their FRAND patents without giving any back.

Apple, like Microsoft, hates to offer their own patents as FRAND, and only ever tries to create formal standards when they need to subvert another standard. They are the masters of de facto standards. Since the old players are now desperately abusing their FRAND patents as leverage in patent negotiations, they have a difficulty in calling Apple out on the hypocrisy of this.

However, the big loser in all of this is us. Since FRAND patents are so weak in aggressive patent wars, and antitrust bodies are now looking to make them even weaker, companies will stop making FRAND promises. The result will be less standardization and more lawsuits, leading to less capable and more expensive products. Hence Google's point is actually a very good one.

Reciprocity as a component of FRAND? (1)

Guppy (12314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723409)

How about this as a solution? In determining the Fair and Reasonable terms for licensing a FRAND patent, reciprocity (including that of non-FRAND patents) may be considered.

What this means, is that Apple's own terms for licensing Apple's patents may be considered when creating a definition for what is "Fair", when FRAND terms are demanded from other players.

Re:Here is the problem (1)

Truedat (2545458) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723429)

Samsung, Motorola and other old players in the telecoms game have a huge problem today because for many years they have been playing reasonably nice with each other.

You say playing nice, but I prefer to use the word colluding. The status quo always used to be that the previous incumbents would royally shaft their cash cow customers, by contrast we have a lot more choice today. Whether that is due to Android or Apple I don't particularly care, all I know is that it has changed.

The solution isn't to perpetuate the patent system any further with these anti competitive FRAND sticking plasters, it's to put pressure on reforming the whole patent system, getting rid of software patents entirely. The entry fee into any expanded club FRAND will be exorbitant enough so that those big players who are already members can keep new starters out. Only companies that aren't doing very well today would want that.

Google argues most patents should be SEPs (5, Informative)

kervin (64171) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723191)

The article's title isn't correct. Google is really arguing that most patents should be treated like SEPs so it's harder to get injunctions. As the patent war heated up Google bought Motorola largely to quickly built it's defensive patent portfolio. A strategy that has largely worked except Motorola has a lot of SEPs.

So now Apple is suing Google and its hardware partners like crazy all over the world, but they're coming back with SEPs in the counter suites. HTC took Apple to court in retaliation using 2 SEPs it got from HP, IIRC. Google is also beginning to play a more aggressive role defending its hardware partners. Google is even beginning to ask the courts to name them as defendants even though they weren't sued. And guess what type of patents they're bringing to the party?

Motorola recently announced that it was leaving long standing patent agreements with Qualcomm. Guess with litigious company relies on Qualcomm for protection against SEPs?

Now add the fact that the US government is actively re-evaluating how litigation around SEPs are handled ( there are hearings going on right now ), and you can see why Google is saying what they are.

Google largely wants to be able to use its SEPs defensively in a fight they really didn't start. But of course, once that cat is out the bag and fast forward a decade when Google maybe on the ropes, then it's likely we would see SEPs used more agressively. '

The other solution is to not loosen restrictions on SEPs but to go the other route. Make it harder to get injunctions using non-SEPs by treating them like SEPs. Personally, I believe that's the way to go. Currently Apple has an injunction on the import of Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 over a flimsy design patent. Samsung can't just pay a reasonable fee, they have been banned from importing the product at all. Even if these flimsy patents are not tossed out of court, they should not be used to outright ban products, but competitors should be allowed to license them on a FRAND basis.

Re:Google argues most patents should be SEPs (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723279)

You do realize Tim Cook and Samsung's CEO met in a court mandated mediation meeting, and Apple offered to license it, and Samsung's response is, fuck you, *YOU PAY ME* for my FRAND patents and give me a free cross licensing deal to your patents.

Samsung could have settled _ANYTIME_

Re:Google argues most patents should be SEPs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723555)

Might I suggest you post a relevant link to help people who are less informed? I suggest this one [fosspatents.com] myself. Without references, people tend to dismiss you as a fanboi, for one side or the other. And on a site where few even RTFA, you can't seriously expect people to take the initiative to Google something!

Your post seems to imply that Apple took the high road here. Without knowing the terms of that offer, I can't tell if it was anything but a PR stunt. From the tone of your post, one might suspect you know what the unspecified terms were. Care to post those details so we know that magnanimous Apple wasn't just offering a noose to Samsung in their offer?

Re:Google argues most patents should be SEPs (1)

Zorlon (181163) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723365)

Please define SEP

Re:Google argues most patents should be SEPs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723425)

Google: SEP patent

"Standards-Essential Patents"

Punishing success (2, Insightful)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723299)

The term for this is "punishing success." Create a technology that's too successful and pretty soon people will call to have it stolen from you for the "public good." And naturally they will mask their naked desire for such theft with terms like "sharing."

Note that I don't support software patents---I don't support the idea of patents, or "intellectual property" [eprci.com] , at all. But so long as we're going to have the government pointing its guns around at people, protecting businesses' intellectual assets as if they're real property, the idea of selective enforcement of patents, especially based on criteria like this, is even more repugnant than "IP" itself.

So! I hope Google will be equally as cheerful when the government comes in and wrenches all of their technologies away from them because they've become so ubiquitous! I mean, if there's anything "everyone" uses on the Internet nowadays that ought to be "shared," it's Google search, right?

Re:Punishing success (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723569)

I think you are missing the point. Its already happened via FRAND to the players that built cellular. Sure, they could have refused FRAND but then we wouldn't have robust wireless standards we can all use.

Now Apple can swoop in with trivial "slide to unlock" type of patents and charge an arm and a leg to license. They can then turn around and pay pennies for patents that took years and years and billions of dollars to develop.

And if its allowed to work this way - future wireless innovators are going to refuse to go the FRAND route. This would result in fractured standards, and likely patent induced stagnation in the wireless realm.

Apple is freeloading. The law may allow them to freeload, but that doesn't make it right.

Creeping socialism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723469)

Lets hear from all the Ayn Rand types here. Since Apple is so successful and popular they should be forced to share the results of their hard work and creativity with others.

Apple does the same and is 100% to blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40723513)

Google is only trying to defend itself against Apple's patent abuse, and litigious aggression. If I tried to fight back against a mugger, would you blame me?

Apple uses FRAND to fend off Google's - purely defensive - counter-suits.

innovations, yes... ridiculous patents, yes (1)

hugortega (721079) | more than 2 years ago | (#40723601)

Of course there are innovations on many Apple products, but ALSO there are many obvious patents (such recent "invention" of scrollbars in touch screens that hide when no use). Imagine if someone many years ago decided to patent a kind of generic "wireless communication device".
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