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Google's Schmidt: Patent Wars Harm Startups

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the not-that-he's-complaining dept.

Google 82

Nerval's Lobster writes "Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt opened up to The Wall Street Journal in a Dec. 4 interview. Among the topics covered: the status of his company's ongoing patent war with Apple, as well as its attempts to make the Android mobile operating system more of a revenue giant. In Schmidt's mind, startups have the most to lose in the current patent wars: 'There's a young [Android co-founder] Andy Rubin trying to form a new version of Danger [the smartphone company Mr. Rubin co-founded before Android]. How is he or she going to be able to get the patent coverage necessary to offer version one of their product? That's the real consequence of this.'"

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Funny (3, Insightful)

WankerWeasel (875277) | about 2 years ago | (#42192753)

But buying up startups then killing their work doesn't?

Re:Funny (5, Insightful)

metrometro (1092237) | about 2 years ago | (#42192793)

Actually, it doesn't. That's a powerful incentive to start companies and build products, even if the results get incorporated (or not) into a dreadnaught like Google after four years. Venture funding banks on this, and the freely flowing spigot of VC money built most of the stuff I currently use.

Re:Funny (1)

Qzukk (229616) | about 2 years ago | (#42192871)

the freely flowing spigot of VC money built most of the stuff I currently use.

Except that if you're using it, then it was probably not the result of a startup that was bought and killed.

Re:Funny (2)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 2 years ago | (#42193629)

Except that if you're using it, then it was probably not the result of a startup that was bought and killed.

That VC money doesn't appear out of thin air. It often comes with the intention of the company being acquired, and was money previously invested in other companies that got acquired. It's all part of the ecosystem.

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42202891)

So to the end user who wants to have something that will be around for years, the answer is to pick the loser.

Re:Funny (5, Insightful)

mr1911 (1942298) | about 2 years ago | (#42192803)

But buying up startups then killing their work doesn't?

If startups can't get to version one, they have a tough time getting bought.

There is no perfect answer, but I'd rather have my work killed after getting bought/paid rather than squashed by patent suits and losing my investment.

Re:Funny (1)

WankerWeasel (875277) | about 2 years ago | (#42192893)

You're assuming the one being bought out is the startups founder, not the employees that get nothing more than laid off. Also your logic is that you'd rather have a partial lobotomy than a full. The lesser of two bad things. Why not have a good outcome rather than the lesser of two bad ones? For most it's not all abut the money. Seeing something you worked hard to build be taken and thrown in a bin never to see the light of day sucks. This thing you worked so hard on will never get the chance to show how awesome of an idea it really was.

Re:Funny (2)

bhagwad (1426855) | about 2 years ago | (#42192927)

That will indeed suck. But I'll take the money nonetheless :)

Re:Funny (1)

somersault (912633) | about 2 years ago | (#42193697)

For most it's not all abut the money. Seeing something you worked hard to build be taken and thrown in a bin never to see the light of day sucks. This thing you worked so hard on will never get the chance to show how awesome of an idea it really was.

Isn't the obvious answer in that situation to not sell your business?

Re:Funny (1)

erice (13380) | about 2 years ago | (#42193791)

You're assuming the one being bought out is the startups founder, not the employees that get nothing more than laid off.

Also your logic is that you'd rather have a partial lobotomy than a full. The lesser of two bad things. Why not have a good outcome rather than the lesser of two bad ones? For most it's not all abut the money. Seeing something you worked hard to build be taken and thrown in a bin never to see the light of day sucks. This thing you worked so hard on will never get the chance to show how awesome of an idea it really was.

If startups are getting bought than at least there is a decent chance of getting a job at another startup and "successful" startup experience (even if borged and crushed) is better resume fodder than a stint at a startup that quietly disappeared. If startups are not being bought than pretty soon they won't be any funded and you will have no choice but to work for a large company, even you even have that option. (Big companies aren't usually impressed by experience at startups that have never heard of and don't exist anymore)

Re:Funny (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42193817)

Well, fuck startups then. Because that's what the money system dictates us.

Re:Funny (1)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#42195443)

I understand that this might harm potential investment, but do these patent wars actually affect objects that are on their first version, unless they are very highly hyped before production? Did anyone actually consider the iPod to be a threat before it took off? I usually hear about patent suits nailing people who have made a good run at actually competing with some patent holder in the actual marketplace. By that point, you could easily have been bought out by someone bigger, which is pretty much the way start-ups go anyway.

Of course, it does have implications for the small start-up that really does want to make a go of it on their own, without some big brother watching their back, but even Google had patrons before they completely turned the tables on everyone.

Re:Funny (1)

McFadden (809368) | about 2 years ago | (#42201015)

Although, let's be honest, a lot of patent trolls would be content to wait until the startup is acquired because they'd much rather go after the deep pocketed corporation that buys it.

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42192821)

That's actually the primary measure of success for most tech start ups.

Re:Funny (5, Interesting)

Shoten (260439) | about 2 years ago | (#42192843)

But buying up startups then killing their work doesn't?

Arguably, no. Why do I say this? Because of two reasons:

One...the fact that the startup got bought out provides incentive for other startups to form. Let's face it...being bought out by Google is a payday. It almost always means you've hit some kind of success, and as a result you are being paid well for the company. Failed startups that are bought as they lay on their death bed are never bought by companies like Google, but rather other smaller companies who want some minor aspect of what the startup still contains.

Two...the fact that the people who started the first startup are now (after a year or so) free to start a new one. And they're MORE able to do so, because they have the experience they gained the first time around, the track record of having done it successfully before (VC's get their part of that buy-out payday too), and their own inherent financial stability now so that they don't have to worry about putting food on their table or paying the rent while they get the next venture up and running. They've made connections, made mistakes, and learned a lot along the way. I know several people who have done multiple startups, and they've all seen their original creation changed in some major way by the company that bought them out, but meh...they go on, and create something new.

Re:Funny (1)

WankerWeasel (875277) | about 2 years ago | (#42193011)

You're looking at a startup as a single person or partners that share the pay from the buyout. What about the people that worked tirelessly at the small company but may not get a cut in the cash? You're also believing that the #1 motivator for everyone is money. Many would like to see their baby grow and see the impact it can make on the world. Invent a cure for cancer, take the payoff and walk away without ever getting to see how it changes the world.

Re:Funny (5, Insightful)

maeglin (23145) | about 2 years ago | (#42193211)

You're looking at a startup as a single person or partners that share the pay from the buyout. What about the people that worked tirelessly at the small company but may not get a cut in the cash?

You're also believing that the #1 motivator for everyone is money. Many would like to see their baby grow and see the impact it can make on the world. Invent a cure for cancer, take the payoff and walk away without ever getting to see how it changes the world.

What about the people who worked tirelessly for RIM, Nokia, Diamond, Pets.com, Silicon Graphics (the real version), the HP calculator team, Commodore / Amiga, SEGA and Atari (again, the real version)? Who was or is looking out for them? Absolutely no one. At least if a founder gets bought out some jobs will transfer, some will move on to the next start-up with the same guy and the rest simply share the same fate as countless people who have poured their souls into ventures of many sizes and then have been left with nothing but a final paycheck.

One of many reasons that older employees don't constantly invest 18 hours a day for an 8 hour paycheck is because they have seen the result of not being an equity holder of the effort when the payday comes. If you're working a job as a wage earner and you think the 2 year "sprint" is going to pay off -- think again.

If you don't want to sell your baby.. Don't.

Re:Funny (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | about 2 years ago | (#42193307)

If you're talking about "harm to startups", you implicitly are already talking about the owner(s), rather than the employees, as they are the one(s) with the above-average stake in it. And really, if you are an employee only with no ownership of the company, you never had an expectation that you'd get a cut in the cash, regardless of what happened, unless you were working at one of the very rare companies which split the profits with employees (and I mean a real cut, not a nominal pittance). And if you are working at one of those companies, they will probably see to it that everyone profits from the buyout anyway.

I can honestly think of no likely real world scenario where the employee would a) have a reasonable expectation that, despite not having ownership, they would see some of that profit, and b) not see some of the profit that comes about as the result of a buyout.

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42193735)

What about stock options? In all of the startups that I've been involved in (albeit back in the 90's) almost everyone had options that would have payed off nicely when the company is bought out or went public. Most (if not all) of the developers and managers did, anyway.

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42193093)

And they're MORE able to do so, because they have the experience they gained the first time around, the track record of having done it successfully before (VC's get their part of that buy-out payday too), and their own inherent financial stability now so that they don't have to worry about putting food on their table or paying the rent while they get the next venture up and running. They've made connections, made mistakes, and learned a lot along the way.

And they've got a customer base who got thrown to the wolves and who will someday get wise to the fact that if they sign up with these startups, they're going to be gone in a few years one way or the other. It might be OK for Angry Birds, but I wouldn't buy anything from these people I expect to be using in 5 years.

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42193539)

Your argument is fallacious. You've taken one of the myriads of different buy-out possibilities, with a subset of the stakeholders, and generalized it back to all start-ups. This is moronic, not "interesting".

Re:Funny (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42192887)

Selling out is a choice, getting sued to death isn't.

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42192905)

Startups are not confined to corporate rules and they can take the risks. More startups fail than succeed. But when one does make a good product, then it can be brought and pushed into a larger product. It wasn't all for a loss. The reach that the startup had before being brought would not have been realized without an intervention by a higher player. Adversely, the advances in technology were accelerated by the efforts of the startup. There are some startups that should continue to grow to become larger corporations, but not every one of them.

Re:Funny (5, Insightful)

yog (19073) | about 2 years ago | (#42192999)

Patents are definitely a big problem for start-ups. When you are big enough to have a Legal Department with an Intellectual Property specialist or three, you can maybe deal with all the patent trolls out there not to mention the few legitimate patents that may challenge your product.

But for the rest of us, it's an almost insurmountable challenge. Once when I was trying to develop a voicemail contraction (yeah this was sort of pre-cell phone and pre-Google Voice and all that nice stuff we have today) for small offices, I was astounded by the kinds of patents out there. Some guy patented a "method to push a button to record a voice". Someone else patented a "method to store voice recordings in digital format in computer memory". Was I as a one person start-up going to have to find a way around ridiculously obvious patents like this?

So if someone big comes along and offers you a million or two for your baby company, it's going to be awfully tempting. Then again, as I recall, Microsoft offered the Netscape guys about $20 million for their browser back in the early Web days. They politely declined and went on to be worth hundreds of millions. It's a tough call to make, but you do have to be a bit of a gambler if you want to really make it big.

Re:Funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42197163)

How did this got modded insightful?

but that's the whole idea... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42192791)

to hurt startups so there's no competition!

Obvious answer (2)

Qzukk (229616) | about 2 years ago | (#42192845)

You get the patent coverage by releasing version one and paying off whoever sues you.

Re:Obvious answer (2)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#42192897)

So what should one do if the patent holders combined demand more than the product's MSRP, especially considering treble damages and attorney's fees?

Re:Obvious answer (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#42193063)

By then you've skimmed the profit and you declare bankruptcy. Just remember to file any patents you created as personal ones during the process, so that the shell of your startup is devoid of any value except the foosball table and the aeron chairs.

Sounds like a golden opportunity .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42192853)

for someone like Google or IBM or a consortium to rent their portfolio(s) for defensive purposes.

Yeah ... because that world before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42200979)

Even a newbie lawyer would be able to have the "scam" shutdown before the end of the day.

Only idiots think that a "rental" patent has any value in court.

As a startup owner.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42192859)

I call total BS on that!! They protect my company instead from the big ones copying my idea before my firm has a chance to stand on its own feet.

Schmidt is being almost evil here, if his ideal world consists of big companies stealing ideas from startups without compensating them.

Re:As a startup owner.. (1)

tepples (727027) | about 2 years ago | (#42192917)

So what should the startup do if its patentable invention is an improvement to someone else's patented invention, but someone else isn't willing to license at a reasonable rate?

Re:As a startup owner.. (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42192939)

really?

that's how google built its business. taking the work of others and monetizing it. like say google news. aggregating news and making money from the ad revenue instead of the news organization

Re:As a startup owner.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42195809)

Google News doesn't have ads.

Re:As a startup owner.. (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#42199545)

like say google news. aggregating news and making money from the ad revenue instead of the news organization.

Well, except that Google News doesn't have ads, and doesn't present the news, just headlines and minimal teaser excerpts with link to the story hosted by the source, who receives the clicks from anyone who wants to read the story -- and all the ad revenue.

Now, Google Search has ads, and news results are also included in Search results, so the engine behind news still contributes to Google Search ad revenue, but even Search still presents the same headline-and-minimal-excerpt as Google News, and still makes people go to the source for the story. The real problem some news organizations have with Google News is that it serves as a portal from which people might go to other news organizations stories, and some news organizations want people to use the news organization's own portal which presents only that news organizations stories. Of course, its trivial for site owners to opt-out of inclusion in Google News via, among other mechanisms, appropriate robots.txt entries; most don't, because Google News doesn't steal ad revenue from news sites, it drives revenue to them by providing a mechanism by which users discover content of interest.

Re:As a startup owner.. (3, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about 2 years ago | (#42193023)

Since most start ups lack the resources to engage in patent litigation, it is not a tool that is all that useful at this point.

Re:As a startup owner.. (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 2 years ago | (#42193239)

When he says patents hurt startups, he really means they hurt Google. Google is the underdog in the current patent world war, and they have the most to lose.

Re:As a startup owner.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42193393)

I call total BS on that!! They protect my company instead from the big ones copying my idea before my firm has a chance to stand on its own feet.

Schmidt is being almost evil here, if his ideal world consists of big companies stealing ideas from startups without compensating them.

I call BS on that!! Patent attorneys and litigation are a weight attached to a noose around a startups neck just waiting to drop.

AC is being almost evil here, if his ideal world consists of every startup expending their initial capital investment into patent attorneys rather than product development.

Seriously, what distinguishes a successful startup from an identical failed one is almost invariably execution. Ideas are rarely novel enough to be the secret sauce -- for every one you see that you think "damn, that guy was a genius" there were probably several people with the same idea [wikipedia.org] cursing themselves for not getting to market faster or finishing their prototype earlier. If you really were destined to be a successfully startup owner you'd be thinking less about how someone is going to steal your precious, and more about how to manage costs, increase market share and expand your capabilities.

Re:As a startup owner.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42194577)

I have to wonder how "giant monopolists dumping products into the marketplace for free in order to destroy competition" affects startups, too?

A new mobile OS could be built easily - at worst, licensing fees would need to be paid. But it can't compete with Android, because Google's dumping Android in the market in order to kill any other competition that might strike up licensing deals with NON-GOOGLE services.

As far as I can see, patents are less of a problem for a startup than abusive companies with awful, ad-supported business models are.

easy to license most of the patents (0, Troll)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42192873)

most of the patents in a smartphone are Standards Essential and fairly easy and cheap to license. a few pennies per device per patent owner.

not like you have to spend years in negotiations for tens of thousands of patents

most of these patent articles are just FUD and click bait

Re:easy to license most of the patents (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 2 years ago | (#42192961)

Those aren't the patents of concern. The problematic ones are those held by companies like Apple, that aren't essential but are rather pathetic and used as weapons against competitors. Let alone the hazards of patent trolls armed by companies like Microsoft, Apple, and IV.

most of these patent articles are just FUD and click bait

Which patent trolling firm do you work for?

Re:easy to license most of the patents (2)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42193103)

everyone has design patents and patents rectangles and other shapes. check the patent office.

IV is just a mutual fund and all the big tech companies like apple, google, cisco and others invest in their patent pools

That Is the Most Laughable Defense of IV Yet! (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#42193291)

everyone has design patents and patents rectangles and other shapes. check the patent office.

You're saying that everyone has the same design patents? I was under the impression that rounded corners on icons belonged solely to Apple? Or are you saying I can get my own patent for rounded squares that open up an application on a mobile device? I mean wasn't the whole logic in the Samsung Galaxy case about their devices being black with rounded corners and Apple's devices being black with rounded corners? I mean ... how does Samsung get their own design patent for that since you claim "everyone" has them?

IV is just a mutual fund and all the big tech companies like apple, google, cisco and others invest in their patent pools

I don't think you know what a mutual fund is. I don't think IV pays back to Apple, Google, Cisco, et al like they would if they were a mutual fund. And IV claims to be "helping the small guys" manage patent portfolios (although I can't find an example of this either). Furthermore, I found it really funny that you claim these large companies are their customers. Do you have any evidence of this? Because when This American Life did a story on them, they were having a hard time finding these imaginary revenue streams you speak of. Oh, you claim they have nothing to do with patent wars? Gee, it's super odd that on IV's site they have an article explaining how patent wars are a natural and necessary business expense [intellectualventures.com] and they've been going on since the beginning of time.

Re:That Is the Most Laughable Defense of IV Yet! (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42193583)

no, you're just dumb and believe the click bait nonsense on the internet

samsung, apple and everyone else has design patents on every single product they sell. these are prefaced by the letter D before the patent number. the design patent covers the shape, color scheme and every detail you can see about the product. samsung has D patents on fridges and microwaves.

the reason samsung got sued was the original galaxy shape and color scheme was almost exact to the iphone. they even had a huge internal document on how to copy apple and were warned by google. i can go to best buy and look at 10 different android phones where apple didn't sue the maker because the design and color scheme is different enough from the iphone even though its a rectangle with rounded corners.

why is it i can go to home depot and all the appliances look similar to each other even though everyone has a design patent? if you look closely they all have slightly different designs and colors.

don't believe the nonsense by the verge and all the other internet blogs. these rags are like the yellow press of the late 1800's and the NYC tabloid newspapers of today.

Re:That Is the Most Laughable Defense of IV Yet! (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 2 years ago | (#42193647)

no, you're just dumb and believe the click bait nonsense on the internet

Ah yes, we're all wrong about IV.

samsung, apple and everyone else has design patents on every single product they sell. these are prefaced by the letter D before the patent number. the design patent covers the shape, color scheme and every detail you can see about the product. samsung has D patents on fridges and microwaves.

Design patents are of least concern. The primary problem are crappy utility patents.

Again, what patent trolling firm do you work for?

Re:easy to license most of the patents (2)

the computer guy nex (916959) | about 2 years ago | (#42193169)

Those aren't the patents of concern. The problematic ones are those held by companies like Apple, that aren't essential but are rather pathetic and used as weapons against competitors. Let alone the hazards of patent trolls armed by companies like Microsoft, Apple, and IV.

most of these patent articles are just FUD and click bait

Which patent trolling firm do you work for?

So if the technology is 'pathetic' and 'non-essential', who cares? Just don't use it.

Apple is using all means necessary to stop KIRFs. Some of what Samsung has done is flat out pathetic, and if you do your research they deserve all punishment received.

http://dcurt.is/chromebox-samsung [dcurt.is]
http://media.idownloadblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/samsung-vs.-apple-e1313955567548.jpg [idownloadblog.com]
http://peanutbuttereggdirt.com/e/custom/Apple-vs-Samsung-3-Package-Design.html [peanutbuttereggdirt.com]

Re:easy to license most of the patents (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 2 years ago | (#42193689)

So if the technology is 'pathetic' and 'non-essential', who cares? Just don't use it.

Because there's no reason the patents should have been issued. People trivially infringe upon them without realizing it, then get hammered with patent suits. And you never know until it's too late.

Apple is using all means necessary to stop KIRFs.

And they'll sell patents to troll firms, who will use them to attack their competitors. Not design patents but utility patents.

Why'd all the pro-Patent Apple White Knights come out of the woodwork?

Re:easy to license most of the patents (3, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 years ago | (#42193043)

How many hours do you think it would take to do a full patent search on a new device as complicated as a pocket computer which incorporates several difference wireless and wired communications, as well as a full-fledged operating system?

Now, add your "pennies per device" to those thousands upon thousands of hours, at legal rates ($200-$600/hr), plus add on several thousand dollars for each to ensure compliance with the terms.

Pennies per device just turned into over a million dollars before a single handset is produced. That isn't stifling?

Re:easy to license most of the patents (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42193279)

all the standards bodies will have the patents listed for that standard. and if you buy say a wifi chip for your product then the chip maker already paid the royalty

but then you knew that since if you're shipping a product using some standard tech your company will be a member of that standards body or at least subscribe to their publications.

or you're dealing with everyone except Apple who like to abuse FRAND and sue others for using standards essential patents

Re:easy to license most of the patents (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 2 years ago | (#42193703)

What about the patent trolls? Oh, right, this is Apple White Knight hour.

Re:easy to license most of the patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42194141)

and if you buy say a wifi chip for your product then the chip maker already paid the royalty

Utterly incorrect. Whoever uses said ICs have to handle their own licensing unless explicitly sold as otherwise.

Patents are also more than just seeing what is needed for a device to communicate with other products in a market. Even trivial software solutions handling images on the screen may be a patent minefield.

Re:easy to license most of the patents (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42193301)

An actual correctly implemented patent search requires you to read all patents which are currently valid, because searching for keywords doesn't actually work unless you use the exact same terms for something you made and they made and since both of you invented stuff there is no consensus on the terms used.

I think about a 100 thousand man years for a smart phone.

Re:easy to license most of the patents (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 2 years ago | (#42193111)

And that's why there are no patent wars between smartphone companies. Oh, wait...

Unless You're Apple (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42193159)

most of the patents in a smartphone are Standards Essential and fairly easy and cheap to license. a few pennies per device per patent owner.

Unless the patent holder is Apple. Who decided to f*ck with everyone and make a mess.

Rounded corners on icons? Where do I pay a few pennies per device for that? Oh, right, I just get sued into oblivion.

Re:easy to license most of the patents (1)

Shoten (260439) | about 2 years ago | (#42193269)

most of the patents in a smartphone are Standards Essential and fairly easy and cheap to license. a few pennies per device per patent owner.

not like you have to spend years in negotiations for tens of thousands of patents

most of these patent articles are just FUD and click bait

And how many startups are there that are creating smartphones? This argument has absolutely no relevance. Many patents relate to core activities. If a startup suddenly has to defend themselves because something essential to their software violates a few super-broad patents, that's money right from their bottom line. But it's also risk, which VCs don't like. It's a distraction, which is the LAST thing people need when they're using all their fingers and toes trying to get a business up off the ground. And if they lose, it's usually catastrophic.

This isn't theoretical; it happens. Patent battles have killed off startups. And they've impacted others. There was a report done by a law professor, Colleen Chien (what an unfortunate last name...at least it's not "Chienne"), which investigates this. [techdirt.com] A quote (I'd paste the chart in here too, if I could...check it out though):

The following chart from the report more or less speaks for itself: the smaller you are, the much higher the likelihood that a demand from a patent troll (even beyond just a lawsuit) had a "significant" operational impact.

Chien also discovered that patent troll are going after startups more than larger, well-established companies. And that makes sense; a smaller company is an easier target. Go after Google, Microsoft, HP, IBM, etc. and you're incurring the wrath of a giant. Sure, you may get paid out big time if you win, BUT you'll have to fight like hell. A little company that is more vulnerable to you than you are to them? Easy money...and a lot more of them, too. So it ends up being like the RIAA's wonderful strategy of going after people en masse...you make money by going after companies in volume.

Re:easy to license most of the patents (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#42193465)

and you know what, some of us old farts have seen this tech since the 80's

online? my parents were too poor to pay for AOL or Compuserve back in the day. otherwise these ideas are decades old
online shopping? Amazon started in 1994. before that there were lots of catalog companies where you could pick up the phone and give them your CC and get your stuff in a week or two.
OS patents? too bad for you MS and Apple did all the work for you over the last few decades
mapping? Microsoft had online maps in the 90's

lots of smart people saw these trends when you were still in diapers and worked out the basic tech. but just like other times in history, they did it too early and we're seeing the mass adoption part now. still doesn't change the fact that most of the tech that the kids try to pawn off as their own was created almost twenty years ago and sold off because the inventor couldn't make money off it at the time

the last really killer tech startup i can remember is Google and that's only because they invented most of the Big Data technology. and lots of these so called patent trolls work out a few algorithms that will end up part of a standard or part of some product but not a standalone product

most of the startups i read about now are like the dot bombs of the late 1990's or the founders are geek heads with no real world common sense

Oppa is Gangnam style (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 2 years ago | (#42193355)

FUD and click bait

I think someone is a little upset that they did not get to see a video of Eric Schmidt dancing with PSY...Gangnam Style Eh- Sexy Lady oh oh oh oh

Especially... (1, Interesting)

PortHaven (242123) | about 2 years ago | (#42193017)

When patents are given for things as basic as rounded corners, or actions that have been around for decades, or grids of icons like my old Palm Pilot from the 90's.

Re:Especially... (-1, Troll)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#42194659)

No one has a patent for rounded corners. You shouldn't really comment on things you don't have the mental capacity to understand.

Re:Especially... (1)

Shagg (99693) | about 2 years ago | (#42195509)

You're right, technically it's a rectangle with rounded corners. Not just rounded corners by itself. Totally different.

Re:Especially... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42196321)

You're a victim of your own assfacery

Apple awarded design patent for actual rounded rectangle
http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/11/apple-awarded-design-patent-for-actual-rounded-rectangle/

Re:Especially... (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#42196671)

And you've just shown that you don't understand what it's patenting. It's patenting the exact design of the ipad which yes, does include rounded corners on a rectangular shape, but it sure as hell doesn't stop any other table from being a rectangle with rounded corners.

That's like saying google's design patent for their homepage stops anyone from having a logo and an input box below it and yet that's not the case.

Re:Especially... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42198301)

It's patenting everything except for elements drawn in stippled lines. Variations on those elements are covered by the patent.

For example, on Google's homepage patent, everything except for logos - drawn in stippled lines - should be substantially similar to infringe.

Now go and look which parts of Apple's patent are in solid lines. Hint: there are very few of them.

What about the next young Larry and Sergey? (0)

dumcob (2595259) | about 2 years ago | (#42193185)

What chance do they have of creating a new search engine?
imho zero
Using his own patent logic. Besides which no one, forget about the next young Larry and Sergey have the capability of building and maintaining a Google quality index anymore. Isn't that equivalent to saying not many orgs around can match the legal teams put up by the big boys so innovation is dead.
Google needs to open up its index and allow a market place of search apps to be built on top of it returned results. Imagine a Siri or a Wolfram Alpha that had access to the index. That could return analytics on top of the returned results. Now...stop imagining things. Only Google is allowed too and there are no real consequences to that.

Wrong Link; Wrong Message. (3, Informative)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 2 years ago | (#42193195)

This is the link to the interview http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424127887323717004578159481472653460-lMyQjAxMTAyMDAwNDEwNDQyWj.html [wsj.com] or maybe it only shows a summery depending who you are. I personally interpreted the article completely different; My summery would have been "Irrelevant Microsoft", but it touches on issues such as the antitrust case; owing a phone hardware company while expecting others to use your OS; The issue of Goggles relationship with Apple [Where WSJ got its title] all worthwhile topics of discussion, but as I said the thing I derived from it was Microsoft not being part of the "Gang of Four", and its products not even worth commenting on.

They need to expire (2)

SuperCharlie (1068072) | about 2 years ago | (#42193271)

The argument for patents is to promote and protect inventions and provide the consumer with better products, etc. The problem is the system has been subverted with corporate money and closed the door to most who are not at the top of the food chain. The benefit to a patent should be an exclusive first to market incentive. It would seem a 5 year period should do this. Afterwards, the patent should become public domain for others to build on. This nonsense of never-ending patents as well as allowing patents for idiocy like styles or other non-substantive things is more evidence of the corporate takeover of the patent system. Five years. Thats long enough to get ahead if your intent is to do something with a patent. That doesnt necessarily mean you even have a product in five years, it means you have had a five year head start on anyone using that idea.

But ya.. that and $5 might get me a cup of starbucks.

And in the end, (2)

Grand Facade (35180) | about 2 years ago | (#42193331)

Only the lawyers win......

I chose the wrong profession!

But I do sleep well.

Re:And in the end, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42197185)

Not true. Companies win too!! They slow competitors products entering the market or block them.

To Mr. Schmidt: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42193563)

Dear Mr. Schmidt,

We know!

The masses will never know or care!

The big monopolies know! And that's the plan. When you get Titanic sized it's fscking difficult to steer, so small predators get to the hunt before you do. These dinosaur executives -- unable to innovate -- must make life for entrepreneurs miserable in order to harass them to buy them out or simply kill them. And sometimes both strategies can be used (like e.g. with a certain phone maker which is no Kia).

Alas, "free capitalism", we barely knew ye... most corporations want freedom *BSD-style... without any kind of responsability whatsoever.

GPL freedom, OTOH, like well-tuned capitalism, requires some canonical obligations to be fulfilled, e.g. free competition, antitrust policies and preventive action by a unbiased government (i.e. not a corporate controlled puppet).

Pure capitalism is the last thing corporations want. No wonder they do so well in totalitarist regimes: it's a perfect symbiotic relationship.

The current patent game (and other "intellectual property" bull) is a tool to prevent capitalism from working.

We know it. Corporations and Politicians know it. They also know we know it.

And they couldn't care less.

I still wonder why the GOP bothers with a candidate when Obama is doing so well for them. I guess there's so many things a President can change after all. Maybe grassroots is the only way out...

Remember Cyrix and Nexgen (4, Interesting)

erice (13380) | about 2 years ago | (#42194091)

Semiconductor companies have long held massive patent portfolios. They crossed licensed the patents to each other so, for them, the problem that you couldn't build anything without stepping on somebody's patent wasn't big issue. But startups don't have such portfolios and would be simply be crushed. Cyrix and Nexgen wanted to build x86 compatible processors but Intel had patents critical for compatibility that could not be worked around. They tried having their chips manufactured by IBM, which had cross-licensing agreement but both eventually had to be borged into larger companies (AMD and National Semiconductor) in order to keep operating.

Ignore it (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#42194479)

I disbanded a startup about five years ago that would have filled a niche that's still underserved in the current market (though tablets and smart TV's fill some of it). The issue was the inability to do the things we needed to do because of existing patents on the basic ideas we needed to use and we all agreed that there wasn't a way to do it without licensing all those needed patents, which we couldn't afford.

This was extremely foolish. The correct course of action was to bring the product to market and ignore the patent morass. Use the money gained in the marketplace to fend off the government aggressors.

At the time we were silly and thought that following unjust laws was the proper thing to do.

That said, I hear Schmidt is being considered for Secretary of Commerce. I'm not his biggest fan, but he'd be better than most other people who could be nominated. If there's a chance for significant patent reform, this could be the essential piece.

Re:Ignore it (1)

PoolOfThought (1492445) | about 2 years ago | (#42195477)

This is exactly right. Startups should generally move on with planned product and try to get a market going. Honestly, startups probably should not even read patents because having a read a patent and then infringing anyway comes with a worse penalty than unknowingly infringing on a patent.

The startups can deal with the legal mess (patent licensing, etc) later if they manage to actually create / enter a market in any significant way. Honestly, the odds of a startup even getting on the radar of an established company with a patent portfolio and getting squashed for doing so are practically nil. That doesn't happen until they become a threat or a possible acquistion (ready made market). Being a threat is a good thing even if their lawyers come calling, because by that point you can probably afford a lawyer yourself or afford to give up a piece of the pie via licensing in order to stay in business. Being an acquistion target can also be a good thing.

World doesn't need another Danger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42194651)

Schmidt is simply childish in his thinking, but it apparently makes him feel better about ripping off Apple.

Says the guy running Motorola (0)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about 2 years ago | (#42194689)

He's bought out the company that's been at the forefront of suining people over patents and clearly he's done nothing to change that. Google only cares about Google (and keeping your personal data). So anything he says is irrelevant until he can prove he means what he says.

Re:Says the guy running Motorola (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42195253)

I don't know where you get it from that Google bought Apple, but no they didn't. Indeed, as your subject line points out, they bought Motorola, who are currently counter-suing Apple in an effort to stop Apple from suing every single independent phone maker (in particular, Android phone makers.)

The purpose of Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42194951)

In my more cynical moments, I sometimes believe that people come here to belittle the "American Dream" (I'm not from the US).

The idea that one guy can make good with a lot of hard work and a little luck, well that's a seductive notion. It's not fashionable to believe in it any more, but the large majority of people who were smart, stuck at it and put in the hours have done anywhere from OK to spectacularly well.

There's no point in believing that "the system" won't let you succeed - and if that was really true, you could resettle in a country with laws that you found more favorable.

Here's where my views get really unfashionable and unpopular. Consider that some of the people posting here may have had trouble in their professional and personal lives. Most people (including me) aren't good at blaming themselves.

These "patents ruin everything" stories are a good thing - I hope to see patent and copyright reform in my lifetime, and the abuses of the system should be publicized to accelerate change - but nobody should let some vague slashdot headlines deter them from inventing the next big thing. Usually the worst that will happen to you is you'll get offered a great job at a tech firm - at best you may have the talent to start and manage your own business.

Most people's lives don't follow their hopes and dreams exactly - but if you blame "the system" for your own failings, you are limiting your potential for no good reason. Invent first, ask questions later.

Re:The purpose of Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42195267)

Bump!
And just look at Google's own actions, which have often involved ripping off others' intellectual property*, and then facing the legal consequences, but only after profiting.

*Rampant digital copying and distribution of millions of books without permission from copyright holders; wardriving; streetviewing; music logging and distribution; yadayadayada.

Schmidt posts bug report to Capitalism Bug Tracker (1)

idontgno (624372) | about 2 years ago | (#42195693)

Capitalism marks bug report as "NOTABUG WONTFIX".

Committer adds comment "system works as designed."

Caretaker marks bug closed.

2 Options: License Fees or Create your own patents (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 2 years ago | (#42195973)

In Schmidt's mind, startups have the most to lose in the current patent wars: How is he or she going to be able to get the patent coverage necessary to offer version one of their product?

Anyone wanting to create a smartphone must have deep pocket investors. This has to be one of the most expensive products in the world to innovate in for not only the hardware reasons, but the infrastructure and connectivity software reasons. Andy Rubin going into the smartphone business again is either done with VC smart money or it is done "dumb".

I personally can't imagine Rubin going back into smartphone creation, unless someone is going to properly fund the product with at least hundreds of millions of dollars.

Re:2 Options: License Fees or Create your own pate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42202487)

Anyone wanting to create a smartphone must have deep pocket investors.

Anyone? Are you fucking serious? I want to create a smart phone and I don't have any deep pocket investors. The fucked up thing is that with my electronics background and work in both hardware and software defined radio I could actually do so if it weren't for the fact that I "must have deep pocket investors" to call off the patent hounds. I could make cheap kits that hobbyists could use to turn nearly any computing device into a smart phone, and make money on materials markup alone. Hell, I'm making my own OS from scratch, and I could produce my own cheap game console kits for homebrewers and give away my hackable OS for free to go with it if not for fucking patents.

Don't give me that bullshit about having to have investors to turn a profit. I've started three businesses from scratch with zero investments, made them profitable. Doing so in IP heavy fields though? Fucking forget it. It's not that deep pocketed investors are required before you can make the products, its that you can't get an inch into the market without them because of the patents.

Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42196143)

...something intelligent comes out of Schmidt's mouth. He's supposedly a really bright guy, but since he's been at Google all he seems to do is say really dumb things. Hopefully he's past that phase now!

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