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07.20.11

Apple’s Not-So-Many Anti-Android (and Linux-Hostile) Patents Seen as Invalid, Google to Help Eliminate a Couple

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 12:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Eric E Schmidt, 2005
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Summary: As expected, Google steps in to defend Android distributors from patent attacks that mostly fall flat on their face (80% of the patents discarded)

TECHRIGHTS watches the Android patent situation closely because it impacts the future of GNU/Linux, even if just by inference. Google responds with its former CEO claiming that Apple resorts to patent aggression because it “can’t respond through innovation” (he does not imply that innovation means patents but rather the opposite). “Patents must be invalid soon. Free world must help here,” exclaims one of our readers. It is true that lack of software patents is essential for software freedom, which is why this whole subject is so important. Those who cannot recognise the importance of the matter are advised to look at the recent history of software patents, especially after the patent deal with Novell (which gave purpose to this site).

The remarks from Google’s outgoing CEO are important because they suggest that Google will step up to defend partners and patents are currently not the weapon (or defence) of choice. Recall the past of Schmidt inside Apple. He only recently (in historical terms) walked away from Apple and now he slams Apple, promising to defend against Apple’s attacks:

Schmidt, speaking at a Google mobile conference in Tokyo today, expressed confidence that HTC will ultimately prevail over Apple, ZDNet Asia reports.

“We have seen an explosion of Android devices entering the market and, because of our successes, competitors are responding with lawsuits as they cannot respond through innovations,” he said. “I’m not too worried about this.”

The ITC is crippling the US by denying import of fine products. That is the background to the story above. And in other news, Apple’s products too might get banned because of the ITC, the enforcement agency of the USPTO, i.e. another inherently corrupted institute which is run by those looking for profit, not public services.

Despite gloomy predictions, the real scenario involves just two patents that need to be tackled now. As one way of putting it:

Apple have filed thirteen complaints of patent violations against HTC (one of the three largest Android device manufacturers) to the US International Trade Commission. This particular body has the right to uphold or ignore patent claims, and in the case of the former the main committee can force a complete import ban on all infringing devices.

It turns out that two patents have already been upheld in this way.

Most of the press just went along with this kind of coverage, looking at the empty half (or 20%) of the glass.

Apple won the preliminary ruling at the end of last week, giving it more confidence that it will prevail in its complaint that HTC is infringing two of its patents. HTC of course will continue to litigate the matter, because as we all know much of the business of the modern IT firm is to sit in court rooms and squabble over who did what to whom and when and how.

It is not clear how applicable this is to companies other than HTC, but some journalists speculate to amplify the fear (Microsoft Florian the lobbyist is pushing for this sort of spin behind the scenes).

Quoting some more coverage of the case, Wintel press (which likes to quote pro-Microsoft talking points) goes with the Microsoft/Apple mainstream, whereas Neil Richards challenges the lack of balance by stating: “ITC, The U.S. International Trade Commission, has rejected 8 out of 10 patent claims made by Apple. Apple originally files a complaint that HTC infringes upon 10 of its patents. The judge ruled that HTC infringed only on 2 patents.

“It is a dead end for Android? No. According to reports only one of the two patents in question might be related to Android.

“Some newspapers are reporting the doom of Android, all referring to a blog written by Florian Mueller. Mueller wrote as if the case is the end of Android without mentioning that it was Apple which lost 8 patents, which means the company won’t be able to use those patents against any other mobile player.

Why are they quoting a lobbyist? This just shows the sad state of today’s press.

Christine Hall has strong criticism of Apple, noting that “Apple Patents Portrait/Landscape Flipping”. She alleges that the “other evil empire, Apple, has managed to obtain a patent on the gee-whiz portrait/landscape flipping feature on the iPhone (and about all other mobile devices these days). Does anybody besides me smell a bunch of lawsuits in the works?”

Well, as put by a reader yesterday, “As M$ becomes less relevant, Apple might become more of a problem especially with patents.

“Apple is now valued at $336 billion. That makes anything it does, good or bad, more pronounced.”

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