What Google needs is disruption, not compliance and conformity
Summary: Google’s newly-found sources of cash should be used to remove software patents rather than make the whole system more toxic for everyone
GOOGLE has just announced that it activates over 550,000 Android devices per day. This pace keeps increasing at an amazing rate and Google’s stock has just jumped through the roof, so it’s easy to see why Microsoft and Apple are nervous. We’re now at a crucial crossroad where Google can either decide to abolish software patents (to the degree possible, and possibly by liaising with others) or start getting “evil” by jumping on the patents treadmill, aka the Patents Cartel (because that’s what it is — a cartel). Apple bounced on this bandwagon a very long time ago and Microsoft only did so years ago. While some prefer tackling this serious issue with satire, others give us less humouring reports that indicate Google is replacing programmers with lawyers, or at least substituting growth priorities. This one article sheds light on the impact of patent lawyers inside Google. As we pointed out before — even years ago — it’s an insidious transformation which put patents supporters at the heart of a company better known for its engineering. This is harming innovation and raising the cost of products everyone buys. We really ought to pressure Google to do the right thing as it will be increasingly tempted to shut the public out; that’s what the lawyers Google is hiring would want. To necessitate their job they need to ensure Google dives deep inside the patent pools.
“We really ought to pressure Google to do the right thing as it will be increasingly tempted to shut the public out; that’s what the lawyers Google is hiring would want.”Microsoft and its patent trolls are suing and extorting for a living now (offence mode, with patents also going to Lodsys to innovatively attack apps with ‘More Apps’ links, owing to support from Microsoft’s former CTO), whereas Google claims to be after patents for “defensive” purposes. That’s what all companies that are winning call their patents. Well, the only defensive patent is one that self-destructs safely. Even Red Hat’s patents are a threat because Red Hat might be sold one day, so the “defensive patent” excuse is rather lame. We have repeatedly asked Red Hat to provide legal assurance for such circumstances, but our suggestions fell on deaf ears around Mr. Fontana (whose loyalty to clients comes before ideology).
By means of deterrence, any patent — whether offensive or not — is an impediment to innovation and a recent study helped show this. Even patent lawyers paid attention rather than ignore it. From Patently-O:
James Bessen, A Generation of Software Patents
Do patents benefit software firms? James Bessen examines this issue through both a survey of existing literature and a new empirical study. Bessen finds that although the number of software-related patents has grown rapidly over the past decade, the share of those patents obtained by software firms has remained relatively small, and is largely accounted for by the activity of a small number of large software firms. In other words, most software patents go to firms outside the software industry. Bessen also provides data that brings into question the value of patents to startup software firms and examines changes in the probability that a software patent will be involved in litigation during the first four years of its patent life.
Richard Waters, a longtime Microsoft apologist from the Financial Times, tries to dare Google into entering the patent wars (rather than abolishing those patents). For Google, any attempt to enter these wars would be foolish as it starts almost from 0. To provide some new numbers from this week’s news:
During the earnings call after Google announced their Q2 2011 earnings today, a question was asked about the patent issues surrounding Google right now. Specifically, Android is under assault from Oracle as well as Microsoft and Apple. This is happening because Google only has roughly 700 patents, and they recently lost a bid to gain Nortel’s 6,000+ patents — with those going to, who else, Microsoft and Apple, among others. So what is Google going to do?
We have urged Google many times before to just put back the money it makes from everyone into defending everyone. Google can help everyone by putting an end to software patents, or at least trying to. The public would participate.
“We have urged Google many times before to just put back the money it makes from everyone into defending everyone.”It is not too late for Google to reform the system and if it fails to do so things might get worse because Microsoft is likely going to send its mole in Nokia to attack Android phone makers (although not only Android is affected) after Nokia did this to Apple. Nokia and Apple are both part of the cartel, and both have been helping MPEG-LA. Watch what Apple is doing thanks to the incompetence of the USPTO: “Apple’s policy of trying to claim the patents for as many Android features as possible has continued with the blessing of the US Patent Office.
“Jobs’ Mob is unhappy that it is losing market share to Android and appears to be applying for as many patents as possible to patent troll the operating system out of the market.
“What is alarming is thanks to the vagaries of the US Patent system it appears to be getting away with it.
“Yesterday the US Patent and Trademark office gave Apple a patent which covers that nifty way that smartphones can turn from a portrait to a landscape by turning.”
Software patent troll Microsoft’s PR machine is pumping as much mis-information as it can, oracling Oracle’s victory in Android court case. The reality is, Oracle is facing one after other set-backs in the case. After USPTO’s rejection of a majority of Oracle’s patents, the court refused to buy Iain Cockburn’s report and asked both parties (Google and Oracle) to name two experts to verify damages.
The reason Techrights can no longer concentrate on Novell and Microsoft in isolation is that there is a big problem behind all of these embodiments and to personify the problem made sense until some time last year when Oracle and Apple both attacked Android, showing their willingness to derail competition in truly nefarious ways. Google ought to know what the permanent solution will be; it’s not about winning a case here and there or even invalidating a patent here and there. Google needs to end all software patents in one fell swoop. The USPTO has lost the plot, as we shall show in a later post. █