04.07.11

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Technology Giants Make the World a Worse Place for Developers, Using Patents

Posted in Apple, Google, Patents at 4:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Giant (2009 film)

Summary: Monopolies and titans spread their monopolies and perpetuate the patent problems rather than strive to resolve them for about 99% of the businesses out there (those without a massive scale and monopoly)

A WHILE back we hoped that Apple would rethink its patent lust given the $625 million verdict against it, but this case is being overturned now:

A federal judge in Texas threw out an earlier verdict against Apple in a patent-infringement case with Mirror Worlds, overturning one of the largest settlements ever awarded in a patent case and fueling debate on software copyright in general.

How is Apple going to learn a lesson about software patents’ harm if not by cases like this one? Apple is currently suing the Linux-powered Android, which leads Google, for example, to resorting to patents too (much to the regret of the FFII). A longtime critic of the patent system calls it the “Nuclear Option” and says that “the exploding IP litigation in mobile will only get larger as Google angles to buy the mobile-patent equivalent of a thermonuclear device.” To quote the opening part:

In a blog post today, Google (GOOG) general counsel Kent Walker announced that the company had bid for Nortel’s patent portfolio. The $900 million offer makes Google the so-called stalking horse bidder: one that sets a high enough bottom line to keep others from low-balling the auction.

This is a major change for Google and an overt declaration that it will use its cash to obtain patents that could make life unpleasant for litigious competitors. Expect that the exploding IP litigation in mobile will only get larger as Google angles to buy the mobile-patent equivalent of a thermonuclear device.

Google would be wiser to give a billion dollars to the FFII and other groups which seek to abolish software patents. That would also help Google justify its “do no evil” motto.

What we are seeing these days is not just consolidation where few companies amass enormous power (e.g. Oracle buying Sun) but also a distortion of law that benefits the rich (e.g. tax exceptions for the super-rich, tax havens for large corporations only). Unless the people stand up behind groups like the FFII, FSF, EFF, etc. nothing is going to improve; it’s only going to get a lot worse. Patents are a symptom and a characteristic of this general trend. They solidify the power of the already-powerful over everyone else, essentially making “illegal” the act of competing. As we last showed yesterday, there is nothing ethical about patents; it’s protectionism, it’s selfishness.

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