EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

02.18.10

Wakeup Call to Google, Regarding Software Patents

Posted in Google, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 8:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Addressing the problem of Google’s love affair with software patents; news about Yahoo! and Microsoft, as well as its effects on Hadoop

SOFTWARE patents proponents like IBM and Novell (IBM has a lot of influence on Novell) are almost as much trouble as Apple. But one company which we rarely criticise for supporting software patents would be Google, which pretends to be a friend of Free software (which is hard to dispute) while at the same time doing things that are obviously harmful to Free software. It’s not much different from IBM in that regard. Google also plays along with Microsoft's ActiveSync, which makes it spread patents and stifle standards. GNU/Linux doesn’t need any of this trouble, as it was put right here yesterday:

With most jurisdictions still lax about violations of software patents by Linux users, who remain a quantatively negligible group, the popularity of products like Fluendo’s may be limited. But as Ubuntu’s user base grows, especially in the workplace, legal solutions for multimedia playback will become more and more important.

Well, actually, in most jurisdictions software patents are simply illegal, not just immoral. Google must be paying for those patents no matter where the buyer of Google products like Android or Chrome OS actually lives. That’s a dangerous slope to take.

Google’s idea that it can "invent" software algorithms was mentioned here earlier today and now comes this revelation that Google’s most important patent is just a reinvention of something which goes back to World War II (if not earlier, just like Hewlett-Packard). [via]

Google’s PageRank algorithm was developed in 1998. But a project to trace the history of such algorithms reveals an example from the 1940s.

This is a typical story.

Google was sued by Red Bend for software patent violations that affect Chrome. It’s very doubtful that Google will be able to respond with its patent arsenal to a company as small as Red Bend, so the whole excuse about the patents being “defensive” often seems like unadulterated garbage. It does not ‘compute’ in real-world scenarios.

A month ago we showed that Google had earned a patent (monopoly) that it did not deserve. It’s a monopoly on MapReduce. A startup called Cloudera builds a GNU/Linux distribution that offers some very powerful functionality based on Free software (Hadoop). Based on this new interview, Cloudera is aware of the supposed violation in MapReduce, but its response is that “Google has no track record of using patents offensively.” Well, Microsoft could also say this until a few years ago; it’s only when companies are dying that they become patent aggressors, so no-one can rely on mere promises that are not a legal contract.

I also asked Olson about Google’s recent move to patent the MapReduce algorithm for working with large data sets that underlies Google searches. Hadoop is based on a variant of MapReduce, and there have been suggestions made that everyone using Hadoop or MapReduce is in danger following Google’s patents. As we noted here, Hadoop really isn’t threatened, though. “Google has no track record of using patents offensively,” Olson noted.

The software patent from Google is troubling enough… Microsoft’s hijack of Yahoo! withstanding, as it may have an effect on the Hadoop project. It is now finalised that Zimbra is in the hands of former Microsoft executives (Yahoo! gave it to them) and given that the Microsoft-Yahoo search deal is now approved, it might make one wonder if Yahoo! will still require Hadoop for search. Will it be actively maintained and developed? What will be the impact on many Free software projects that depend on Hadoop? That is another example of the poisoning of Yahoo's Free Software endeavours, courtesy of Microsoft’s bullying and unwanted intervention.

“What would be the impact on many Free software projects that depend on Hadoop?”One of our readers wrote to tell us that there is a connection between “News International -> Yahoo -> BBC -> Microsoft,” as he puts it.

“The BBC Trust has been urged to block the corporation’s plans to launch phone apps for its news and sport content. The Newspaper Publishers Association (NPA) said that the corporation would “damage the nascent market” for apps,” says this article. “The Newspaper Publishers Association (NPA) is the trade association for British national newspapers and its role is to represent, protect and promote the national newspaper industry. It was founded in 1906 and its current members comprise Associated Newspapers, Express Newspapers, Financial Times, Guardian Newspapers, Independent Newspapers (UK), MGN (Trinity Mirror national titles), News International and Telegraph Group,” says this reference page. Microsoft’s strong ties with the BBC (and overlapping staff [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]) were last covered in [1, 2]. But that’s another story altogether. It will be treated separately some day.

“The day that the software sector forms a clear front against software patents, as pharma does for a unitary patent system… will be the day our cause comes close to winning.” —Pieter Hintjens, Fosdem07 Interview

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

A Single Comment

  1. Robotron 2084 said,

    February 19, 2010 at 10:38 am

    Gravatar

    You have to remember that no single company is a friend or enemy to Free Software. A company is a large group of people with the goal of making a profit. The only reason Google uses free software is to reduce operating costs. If they alter that software to suit their needs better they obviously must adhere to the license agreements that Free Software uses, or risk getting sued.

    Some FOSS extremists like to personify companies like Google, as if they are saying, “Oh, we love FOSS so much. Let’s spread goodwill, love and freedom through source code.” Sorry,time to stop dreaming. It’s a businesses geared to make a profit. They use what tools get the job done for a reasonable cost and usually follow the rules associated with such software. That’s it. No love, no hate, no feelings.

What Else is New


  1. 'Financial Director' Publishes Fake News About the Unitary Patent (UPC)

    Response to some of the latest UPC propaganda, which strives to misinform Financial Directors so as to enrich the author and his firm



  2. Independent and Untainted Web Sites About Patents Are Still Few and Rare

    Commentary about news sources that we rely on, as well as the known pitfalls or the vested interests deeply ingrained in them



  3. The 20% Rule: Patent Trolling Suffers Double-Digit Declines and Patent Troll Technicolor is Collapsing

    Significant demise or total catastrophe for the modus operandi (method) of going after companies with a pile of patents and threats of litigation



  4. US Supreme Court Did Not End Apple's Patent Disputes Over Android (Linux), More Cases Imminent

    An overview of some very recent news regarding the highest court in the United States, which has been dealing with cases that can determine the fate of Free/Open Source software in an age of patent uncertainty and patent thickets surrounding mobility



  5. Links 15/1/2017: Switching From OS X to GNU/Linux, Debian 8.7 Released

    Links for the day



  6. Number of New Patent Cases in the US Fell 25% Last Year, Thanks in Part to the Demise of Software Patent Trolls

    Litigation and prosecutions that rely on patents (failure to resolve disputes, e.g. by sharing ideas, out of court) is down very sharply, in part because firms that make nothing at all (just threaten and/or litigate) have been sinking after much-needed reform



  7. America Invents Act Improved Patent Quality, But Right Wingers Threaten to Make It Worse Again

    The past half a decade saw gradual improvement in assessment of patents in the United States, but there is a growing threat and pressure from the patent microcosm to restore patent maximalism and chaos



  8. PTAB -- Not Deterred by Courts -- Continues to Invalidate a Lot of Software Patents

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) continues to make progress reforming the patent system by eliminating a lot of patents and setting an example (or new standards) for what is patent-eligible after Alice



  9. EPO Abuses Come Under Fire From Politicians in Luxembourg

    Luxembourg is the latest nation in which concerns about the EPO's serious abuses are brought up not only by the media but also by politicians



  10. Constitutionality as a Barrier and Brexit Barriers to UPC Keep the Whole Pipe Dream Deadlocked

    The UPC is still going nowhere fast, but the demise (or death) of the UPC as we know it must not be taken for granted



  11. Links 14/1/2017: Wine 2.0 RC5 and AryaLinux 2017 Released

    Links for the day



  12. Links 13/1/2017: Linux 4.9.3 and Linux 4.4.42

    Links for the day



  13. Brexit Means No UPC (Unified Patent Court)

    Now that Jo Johnson, Boris Johnson's brother, is officially declared the new minister for intellectual property in the UK everything that Lucy Neville-Rolfe wrote is as solid as paper bag on a rainy London day



  14. Patent Trolls and Software Patents: CloudTrade, Patent Practitioners Density, and Via Licensing

    Software patents armament from a British company, charted concentration of the patent microcosm in the United States, and US-leaning patent trolls that prey on China



  15. Patent Maximalism -- Like Copyright Maximalism -- Relies on Misconceptions and Mass Deception

    The latest examples of discussions about patent scope, courtesy of those looking to benefit financially by pushing such monopolies to the max



  16. Software Patents Still Promoted by IBM and Its Lobbyist (and Former Employee) David Kappos, in Defiance of Much-Needed US Patent Reform

    While the corporate media celebrates IBM as though it's some kind of 'champion' for hoarding patents that it then uses to attack companies which actually grow



  17. Brexit/Trump Effect: Patent Systems With Institutional Corruption and Nepotism

    Rumours about Britain's head of patents (and copyrights etc.) being the brother of the Brexit campaigner and Foreign Minister; meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, rumours suggest that the corrupt judge Rader might be the next head of patents in the United States



  18. Links 11/1/2017: X.Org Server 1.19.1, GitHub's Atom 1.13

    Links for the day



  19. The Patent Microcosm is Already Sucking up to Donald Trump in an Effort to Enrich Itself at Everyone's Expense

    Four new examples of patent maximalists embracing/adopting the pseudo-populist slogan to advance their goals of increasing litigation (which they profit from) and undermining PTAB (which made patents great in the quality sense)



  20. Patent Quality in the United States Can Only be Assessed at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and the Courts

    The travesty of patent offices in the US and China, where the goal or the accomplishment is measured in terms of the number of patents rather than their quality



  21. Gradual Collapse of Microsoft's Extensive (and External) Patent Trolling Operations

    The President of Microsoft Technology Licensing LLC (patent troll) leaves and the founder of Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's largest peripheral patent troll, joins Sherpa Technology



  22. No End to Battistelli's Witch-hunts Against the Media, Against Staff, and Against Politicians

    Rumours about the fate of people who are (or have been) criticising Battistelli's reign of terror at the EPO



  23. Links 10/1/2017: Synfig 1.2, Kodachi Linux 3.7

    Links for the day



  24. With Help From the US Supreme Court (Key Cases), Patent Trolls Are Going Away

    The demise of patent trolls in the United States, a trend partly attributable to Alice and other Supreme Court decisions, will likely accelerate soon (later this year) as the future of the Eastern District of Texas courts is at stake



  25. Patent Maximalism on Display: Patent Aggressor IBM Celebrated in the Media

    The patent lust at IBM, which is suing if not just shaking down companies using software patents, earns plenty of puff pieces from the corporate media



  26. FFPE-EPO, the EPO Management's Pet/Yellow Union, Helps Union-Busting (Against SUEPO) in Letter to Notorious Vice-President

    In a letter to Elodie Bergot (as CC) and Željko Topić, who faces many criminal investigations, FFPE-EPO ringleaders reveal their allegiance not to EPO staff but to those who perpetually attack the staff



  27. Links 9/1/2017: Civilization VI Coming to GNU/Linux, digiKam 5.4.0 Released

    Links for the day



  28. Links 9/1/2017: Dell’s Latest XPS 13, GPD Pocket With GNU/Linux

    Links for the day



  29. Update on Patent Trolls and Their Enablers: IAM, Fortress, Inventergy, Nokia, MOSAID/Conversant, Microsoft, Intellectual Ventures, Faraday Future, A*STAR, GPNE, AlphaCap Ventures, and TC Heartland

    A potpourri of reports about some of the world’s worst patent trolls and their highly damaging enablers/facilitators, including Microsoft which claims that it “loves Linux” whilst attacking it with patents by proxy



  30. Mark Summerfield: “US Supreme Court Decision in Alice Looks to Have Eliminated About 75% of New Business Method Patents.”

    Some of the patent microcosm, or those who profit from the bureaucracy associated with patents, responds to claims made by Techrights (that software patents are a dying breed in the US)


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts