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Tell Google Not to Buy Software Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 6:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

End Software Patents

Summary: Amid reports about InterDigital negotiations, Techrights urges people around the world to stop Google from playing along with software patents

HTC has already been extorted by Microsoft and now it is Apple which wants to extort HTC because Android is winning (see earlier links digests). As noted yesterday, Google promises to help HTC, but according to this, Google is looking into joining the patents cartel after losing the Nortel bid (Google does not deny this after an approach from the media). “Nowhere was that more evident than in the bidding for Nortel’s 6,000 patents and patent applications,” says CNET, “which cover wireless, data networking, optical, and voice technologies, among others. The bidding drew fierce competition, which drove up the price, and ultimately ended with the $4.5 billion winning bid by a consortium that included Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion, and Sony.”

“The only reasonable solution is to educate the public about the harms of software patents and put an end to those.”We need to tell Google to fight against software patents, not acquire them. Who is doing the thinking at Google these days, the lawyers or the engineers? The real solution is to eliminate software patents, preventing incidents such as this: “Patent concerns are apparently pushing Chinese phone vendors away from Google’s Android operating system and toward Windows Phone 7. Huawei and ZTE plan to adopt Microsoft’s smartphone operating system when the forthcoming “Mango” upgrade is released, according to a DigiTimes report.” It seems more like an anecdote and not part of a general trend. But either way, how would having software patents help Google in this case? It would not. The only reasonable solution is to educate the public about the harms of software patents and put an end to those. Tell senior/high-profile Android staff like Tim Bray [tbray@textuality.com] and Chris DiBona [cdibona@google.com] to stop playing with patents and instead playing against them (I have mailed them myself). These people are engineers and managers, not lawyers. Google would only increase the value of software patents by buying some, so now is the time to pressure Google to reconsider its strategy.

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  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    July 21, 2011 at 8:35 am


    Google was prepared to spend billions on acquiring Nortels software patents. If even a fraction of that gets spent on rolling back US patent law to a saner time, then we’ll see real results — and quickly. Even a few million in marketing and lobbying would do the trick.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I think that Google is advised by patent lawyers on this issue. They want collateral damage with patents as it makes them necessary (i.e. paid).

  2. saulgoode said,

    July 21, 2011 at 11:21 am


    I fully agree (and in my opinion it was a grave mistake for Google to ever proffer a bid on the Nortel patents) — but not just Google; IBM, the Linux Foundation, Red Hat, OIN, … all need to present a consistent front opposed outright to the medieval concept of software patents.

    My apologies if this comment appears more than once. WordPress seems to think that I’m posting too often (twice in that last hour?).

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I’ve received a response from Google and I will possibly post it later.

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    I look forward to reading the response, if it amounts to more than “no comment”

    I see their two main choices to be:

    1) pay billions of dollars for sets of patents, any time new patents turn up as threats

    2) pay less than billions of dollars a single time to roll back US patent law to a more sane situation, removing the threat of all software patents

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