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03.06.10

Apple Uses USPTO/ITC Protectionism to Fight Desktop GNU/Linux

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, DRM, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents, Ubuntu at 5:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Green-red apple

Summary: Apple shows its true colours and reminds people that it’s a fundamental threat to the Free desktop not because it competes but because it stampedes

Apple’s nasty attack on Linux made use of software patents [1, 2, 3, 4] rather than any technical merit. Based on this analysis, desktop GNU/Linux is also affected, not just Android. [via]

You have likely heard about the lawsuit Apple has filed against HTC claiming patent infringement. Kevin offered a good analysis of the suit and how it claims HTC is using Apple technology from the iPhone. Basically Apple doesn’t like what HTC is doing with Android on the phones it is selling in the U.S., as they claim it uses various technology developed in Cupertino for the iPhone. Much has been said that the real target of Apple’s suit is Google Android, as the smartphone OS is growing at a fast clip. I suspect that is true, but I think Apple’s fears go even deeper. I think the scheduled appearance of the Chrome OS later this year has Apple tied up in knots.

Chrome OS is the operating system based on the Chrome browser that has generated a lot of interest from both enthusiasts and companies producing hardware since the Chrome OS announcement. It is intended to be an alternative OS for cheap netbook-like devices, and is aimed squarely at the mainstream consumer. Google expects to capitalize on its familiar brand, and use the Chrome OS to push its online services into the device category.

Chrome OS is based on Ubuntu; if anything, it’s a simplified, stripped-down version of Ubuntu, so if Apple gets an upper hand here, it would do nothing to help GNU/Linux. It’s not just about HTC by the way. IT Business Edge put it like this:

Google Most Likely Apple’s Real Target in HTC Lawsuit

When Apple filed suit against HTC Tuesday for infringing patents Apple owns on technology used in the iPhone, it wasn’t clear which particular HTC devices were at issue in the case. Observers surmised the Google/HTC collaborative effort known as Nexus One was somewhere in the mix, but Google isn’t named in the suit.

As a side note, we have always been critical of Groklaw’s obsession with helping Apple in court; Apple has its share of corporate lawyers (it needs no help from a community) and Apple is no friend of the Free desktop. This latest lawsuit is proof of this, as there was no provocation to justify this (although everyone is suing everyone in this area of computing).

Slate, which has connections with Microsoft [1, 2], calls Apple’s action “Patently Stupid”

Apple’s multitouch lawsuit is both dumb and dangerous.

“Apple’s HTC attack is a very dangerous game,” says the leader of ZDNet UK. Apple’s hypocrisy is also mentioned in Android Web sites. It becomes somewhat of a fight between Google supporters and Apple supporters, but little is said about Linux, as opposed to the big brands which lead the reputation charts.

There is no doubt that Google is a big reason Apple has gone after HTC. In our eyes, this shows us that Apple views Android and the coming wave of smartphones as a threat to their business. Will there be a counter suit against Apple? Probably. HTC has been making smart phones of their and likely has a few patents they could dust off.

Glyn Moody says that this article is “another indication this is iPhone vs. Android” and HTC will fight back with Google’s support.

In other interesting news, Dave Winer covers what Apple is up to. Get a load of this:

Then I read this article in CNET that says Apple wants to cut a deal with the entertainment industry to store all their content on Apple servers. There’s a chilling comment in the middle of the story saying they want to get rid of hard disks. That, my friends, is Hollywood’s dream.

Let’s remember that Apple has connections in Hollywood and Apple is big supporter of DRM. It’s not just the company’s stance on software patents that makes it a disaster to software freedom.

“Apple is fighting against powerful and fundamental economic forces. In the short term, Apple’s technological and industrial design prowess can help to prop up dying business models.”

Timothy Lee

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7 Comments

  1. dyfet said,

    March 6, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Gravatar

    I think some have nostalgia for the Apple that actually never was, which incidentally is not the Apple of Steve Jobs, but rather of Wozniak. In truth Apple has also actually already gone out and “embraced” BSD in a manner not very much unlike how many people have suggested Microsoft would one day “embrace” GNU/Linux and create a “Microsoft Linux”. Yet, Apple gets a lot more love, which I agree is strange.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I think it’s because they are perceived as “choice” and “not Microsoft”.

    your_friend Reply:

    This is why the focus has to be on freedom not “choice” or even “open source”. A choice of masters is not a very good one and non free software can be open source in the sense that people can look at parts of the source code without being able to do anything practical with it.

  2. Will said,

    March 6, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Gravatar

    A lot of people, fed up with Microsoft over the last decade or two, will eagerly jump to try things that are “not Microsoft”. So far, the best efforts of both Apple and Microsoft to convince people that the only thing out there that’s “not Microsoft” is Apple has done much for Apple and it’s image. Case in point: I’m a Mac, I’m a PC ads. No mention of a third choice there.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Novell has done something to change this.

  3. Agent_Smith said,

    March 6, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Gravatar

    Well, i’ve just seen screenshots of Ubuntu Lucyd… And… Guess what ??? I guess crApple will sue Canonical over the appearance of Ubuntu 10.4.
    If they are all out to battle Linux, in desktop and in phones (and tablets, too…)

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I have to admit the wallpaper was a silly choice. They make it seem like building cheap Mac OS X.

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