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. Alice Continues to Smash Software Patents So Patent Lawyers, Monopolists' Lobbyists Etc. Now Attack the Supreme Court for Doing This

    Corporate lobbyists and patent lawyers are trying to put Alice in the grave, for its impact on software patents is very profound and thus far almost unstoppable



  2. How to Salvage the EPO's Reputation: Create More Boards of Appeal in Europe and Abolish the Misguided UPC Fantasy

    A critical evaluation of what goes on at the European Patent Office (EPO), which is quickly descending down (and overall degrading) to the level of Chinese systems, along with the corruption, the abuses, and the low quality of patents



  3. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) Has Just Sided With Patent Trolls

    The notorious CAFC, which manifested software patents in the United States, has just given a gift to patent trolls that typically use software patents for extortion down in Texas



  4. Analyses of the Latest Data From Lex Machina About Patent Litigation Show Some Litigation Declines

    Professor Mark Lemley's Lex Machina highlights litigation trends by collecting and analysing data related to patents and pertaining to intellectual monopolies in general; now it shows litigation droughts



  5. India is Having Another Taste of the Dangers of Western Patents, Must Learn to Reject Software Patents in the Face of Great Pressure

    The growing software giant which is India continues to face cruel and aggressive lobbying from the West, enabling the West to control India by patents that should not exist in the first place



  6. Links 29/4/2016: GNOME 3.21.1, Fairphone

    Links for the day



  7. Microsoft Says It Will Continue to Extort Companies That Distribute Linux, Using Software Patents As Usual

    Microsoft's war on Linux, a war which is waged using software patents (for revenue and/or for coercion in bundling deals), is still going on in spite of all the PR tactics from Microsoft and its paid partners



  8. Australia Might be Next to Block Software Patents If Commission's Advice is Followed

    Australian advice against software patents, which can hopefully influence Australian politicians and put an end, once and for all, to all software patents in Australia



  9. [ES] ''Si la Forma de Pensar de la EPO fuese Seguida, Guantánamo Sería Posible en Suelo Alemán.”

    La EPO está todavía bajo fuego, pero mucho de ello pasa detrás de las cortinas y envuelve abogados y/o burócratas



  10. The European Copy-Paste Office (EPO)

    This morning's example (not the first) of how the EPO uses 'social' media



  11. Links 28/4/2016: Fedora 24, EE Goes Open Source

    Links for the day



  12. Amid Referendum “the New European Unitary Patent System is Likely to Collapse Before It Started”

    The Unitary Patent Court (UPC) vision seems like it may be just one month away from its gradual death, depending on British voices amongst other key factors



  13. USTR is Trying to Shame and Bully India Into Introducing Software Patents in India

    Lobbying body of the US (corporations-led) is trying its usual dirty tactics against India's sound policy which excludes software/algorithms from patent scope



  14. No, Visual Studio is NOT Open Source and Xamarin Openwashing is NOT News

    The latest example of Microsoft openwashing, courtesy of confidants of Microsoft and those who got bamboozled by them



  15. Latest Black Duck Puff Pieces a Good Example of Bad Journalism and How Not to Report

    Why the latest "Future of Open Source Survey" -- much like its predecessors -- isn't really a survey but just another churnalism opportunity for the Microsoft-connected Black Duck, which is a proprietary parasite inside the FOSS community



  16. If EPO “Form of Thinking Were to be Followed, Guantanamo on German Soil Would be Possible.”

    The EPO is still under fire, but a lot of it happens behind the scenes and involves lawyers and/or bureaucrats



  17. Links 28/4/2016: Tomb Raider for GNU/Linux, Proxmox VE 4.2

    Links for the day



  18. [ES] La Departura de la Readidad de la EPO Y Su Entrada en la Esféra Industrial China de Propaganda

    La deceptiva trampa del maximálism de patentes, donde se asume que artficialmente aumentando el número de patentes otorgadas traerá el resultado esperado



  19. [ES] Una Fársa de Sistema: ¿Cómo la SIPO, USPTO, y cada vez más la EPO se Convierten en Llenado de Patentes (No Se Requiere Propia Examinación)

    Una crítica al decline en la calidad de patentes en algunas de las más grandes oficinas de patentes del mundo, donde aspiración parece ser neo-liberal en el sentido económico



  20. [ES] Microsoft ‘Asalto con Todo’ Contra Android, Java, y GNU/Linux, Usando la Clásica E.E.E. Táctica de Nuevo

    Otro recordatorio de la realidad que Microsoft está muy activo en el frente E.E.E., not no sólo contra GNU/Linux pero también Android y Java



  21. [ES] Más Rumores y Llamadas Acerca de Prospectos de Microsoft Vaya a Comprar Canonical (Ubuntu con todo y Zapatos)

    Teniendo en cuenta los últimos movimientos de Canonical, algunos expertos piensan que es posible que Shuttleworth elija el dinero a Microsoft sobre principios sino también inste para que esto ocurra



  22. Links 27/4/2016: A Lot About OpenStack, Vivaldi 1.1 Released

    Links for the day



  23. A Farce of a System: How SIPO, USPTO, and Increasingly the EPO Too Turn Into Filing Systems (No Proper Examination/Filtering Required)

    A critique of the declining quality of patents in some of the world's biggest patent offices, where the aspiration seems to be neo-liberal in the economic sense



  24. Microsoft's 'Full Assault' on Android, Java, and GNU/Linux, Using Classic E.E.E. Tactics Again

    Another reminder of the fact that Microsoft is very active on the E.E.E. front, not just against GNU/Linux but also Android and Java



  25. More Rumours and Calls Surrounding Prospects of Microsoft Buying Canonical (Ubuntu and More)

    Taking some of Canonical's recent moves into account, some pundits not only think it's possible for Shuttleworth to choose Microsoft money over principles but also urge for this to happen



  26. [ES] El Nuevo Impulso Finánciado por Microsoft Para Reforzar las Patentes de Software en los EE.UU., Apoyado por los Sospechosos Usuales (La Sagrada Familia) Mientras que Microsoft Cada Vez Más Lucha Como Compañíá Productiva

    Una mirada al esfuérzo de trae una resurgencia de las patentes de software en los Estados Unidos (con un clarísimo rol de Microsoft en él) y la fundación/conf ianza de Microsoften las patentes de software como arma contr Linux/Android porque las ganancias de Windows se están secando y el Windows Phone está al borde del colápso



  27. Links 26/4/2016: Firefox 46.0, Thunderbird's Stewardship

    Links for the day



  28. Links 25/4/2016: Kodi 16.1, OpenStack Summit

    Links for the day



  29. New Microsoft-Funded Push to Make Software Patents Stronger in the US, Backed by the Usual Suspects as Microsoft Increasingly Struggles as a Producing Company

    A look at the effort to bring about a software patents resurgence to the US (with clear Microsoft role in it) and Microsoft's reliance on software patents as a weapon against Linux/Android because Windows profits dry up and Windows Phone is on the verge of collapse



  30. Patents Roundup: Marijuana Patents, Patent Satellites, Patent Trolls, Wars, and Merchants (Notably Lawyers)

    Various strands of news about patents, focused on issues raised in the latter half of last week


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