Summary: When Microsoft and Apple “get into bed together you have to start wondering what’s going on,” claims a Senior Vice President from Google, furthermore stressing that there is a “hostile, organized campaign” against the Linux-powered Android
THE patent attacks on Google are more or less coordinated as those who sue over Android are aware of other lawsuits and also speak about them. Microsoft, for example, implicitly congratulated Apple on its lawsuits against Android. These two companies also pool money together in order to form patent cartels (e.g. Nortel, CPTN) at the cost of billions. The US DOJ is investigating the Nortel sale based on numerous sources including Microsoft boosters who say:
The $4.5 billion Nortel patent sale to Microsoft, Research in Motion and Apple is reportedly the focus of a deeper investigation by U.S. antitrust regulators. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Justice Department is trying to determine whether the purchase would unfairly hurt smartphone makers that use Google’s Android operating system.
The consortium of businesses out-bid Google for the patent portfolio auctioned off by the bankrupt Nortel Networks last month. The extensive patent portfolio — 6,000 in total — touches nearly every aspect of telecommunications and additional markets as well, including Internet search and social networking.
There are some other notable pieces on the subject and Microsoft boosters try to either predict doom for Android or daemonise Google for buying IBM patents as recently found out and explained by one blogger:
Yesterday I noticed a very large number of new patents listed in the USPTO assignment records for Google from IBM, and made note of them in a post, Google Acquires Over 1,000 IBM Patents in July.
I didn’t expect or anticipate the interest that my post would stir up, though I probably should have, given what seems to be an increased amount of litigation directed at Google involving patent infringement claims, with Apple taking on HTC and Google, Oracle and Google disputing use of Java in Android, Purple Leaf taking exception to Checkout, and other suits.
Given the interest in the IBM patents in a number of places on the web and some conversations I had, I thought it might be a good idea to provide the list of patents that Google acquired earlier this month. Google acquired a number of additional patents from IBM earlier this year and last year as well. I included those in my February post, Google Patents, Updated and Google Self Driving Cars Get Jumpstart from IBM Patents.
Groklaw, which is very IBM-friendly, has a lot to say not only about the patent sale (remember what Professor Webbink does for a living) but also about the Oracle vs. Google case [1, 2, 3] which it helps suppress. It does seem likely that Oracle will be disappointed at the end.
Google calls patents the same as Richard Stallman calls them, based on the headline “Google On The Nortel Loss, Patents As Government-Granted Monopolies, And Plates Of Spaghetti” (source)
There is a lot of coverage linking back to Bloomberg. “Bloomberg reports that Google General Counsel Kent Walker likened patent purchases, and their resulting use, as a battlefield and added that it was hard to find a way through the “mess” of litigation,” says one news site.
“Google calls patents the same as Richard Stallman calls them…”Google claims that “It’s hard to find what’s the best path – there’s so much litigation [...] We’re exploring a variety of different things.”
“I have worked in the tech sector for over two decades. Microsoft and Apple have always been at each other’s throats, so when they get into bed together you have to start wondering what’s going on,” writes David Drummond, SVP and chief legal officer.
Drummond said that Android was becoming more and more popular and winning more and more users, however he added that its successes were being tarnished.
That latest claim is mentioned in this audiocast
“Google Responds To Microsoft’s “Gotcha”: They’re Diverting Attention With A Trick That Failed,” says the Washington Post headline. To quote:
Yesterday, Google wrote a post calling out Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, and others for using “bogus” patents to try to kill Android. Some of the patents Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond mentioned included the ones Microsoft acquired from Novell (not to be confused with Nortel, which happened later). When Microsoft saw this, two senior officials took to Twitter to effectively pants Google. You see, Microsoft had tried to get Google to partner with them to buy the Novell patents — Google turned them down. And Microsoft had the email to prove it.
Microsoft seems to be the favorite disciple of the Indian Guru. I have been covering Microsoft since the days it made bogus claims that Linux infringes on it patents and then the way they got their OOXML approved as an ISO standard by by hook or by crook. Ever since I take everything that this monopoly say with a grain of salt.
Yesterday when Google blogged about how Apple and Microsoft are piling up software patents to intensify attack on Android, I was certain of any confusion statement from Microsoft’s. It happened, we covered it here. We were expecting a response from Google and it came.
Daring Fireball: an Apple fan’s assessment of the situation
What’s more exciting to see is that Apple fanboys cum blogger are all excited about Microsoft’s ambiguous statement. Daring Fireball’s John Gruber writes, “So if Google had acquired the rights to these patents, that would have been OK. But when others acquired them, it’s a ‘hostile, organized campaign’.”
What more evidence does he need than the fact that Apple has sued almost every Android player in the market over patent issues because the company doesn’t know what the healthy competition is. And Microsoft, like an extortion gang, is going after Android players demanding $15 per unit which is far more than the licence of Microsoft’s own WP 7. Still Mr Gruber doesn’t see any hostility here?
He goes on to say, “It’s OK for Google to undermine Microsoft’s for-pay OS licensing business by giving Android away for free, but it’s not OK for Microsoft to undermine Google’s attempts to give away for free an OS that violates patents belonging to Microsoft?”
Dr. Glyn Moody makes another call to abolish software patents:
As long-suffering readers will know, I’ve been warning about the growing problem of patent thickets in the field of software for some time now. Until relatively recently, I and a few others have been voices crying in the wilderness: the general consensus has been that patents are good, and more patents are better. But in the last few weeks, the first hopeful signs have appeared that at least some people are beginning to realise that software patents not only do not promote innovation, they actually throttle it.
Here is the part where Moody mentions Google while also taking note of these comments:
Finally, a very interesting interview with Google’s Senior Vice President & General Counsel appeared yesterday, in which he said:
“Patents are government-granted monopolies,” Walker then says quite matter-of-factly. “We have them to reward innovation, but that’s not happening here,” he says.
So, as you might expect, I’m pleased that people are finally waking up to the seriousness of the situation. More and more are beginning to talk about abolishing software patents altogether – something I have been advocating for years now. But I don’t think that goes far enough: we need to abolish all patents, for everything.
From Google’s point of view, there is a cartel in action:
Google chief legal officer David Drummond has claimed that Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, and other companies have waged a “hostile, organized campaign” against Google’s Android operating system using “bogus patents”.
“I have worked in the tech sector for over two decades. Microsoft and Apple have always been at each other’s throats, so when they get into bed together you have to start wondering what’s going on,” Drummond said on Wednesday in a blog post.
CNET did cover this because when the cartel strikes, ignoring it would lead to allegation of bias. As more and more reports give room for Google’s plea, more members of the public will perhaps be incited against patents.
Pamela Jones is meanwhile back to blogging and she says that Microsoft breaks antitrust rules:
The trouble with FUD is at first it sounds correct, or at least plausible. So when Google complained about the Apple-Microsoft partnership and the deliberate patent policy against Google, Microsoft’s first response sounded like a killer blow. It said it had asked Google to join them. But… let’s take a little bit closer look, because in doing so, it let slip a fact that we did not know until now — that Google tried to get the 800 or so Novell patents that CPTN, an entity Microsoft set up with Oracle, Apple and EMC, eventually won.
That revelation tells us the most fundamental fact about patent law in the US today — namely that even if you have as much money as Google, you can’t freely innovate and provide fabulous products because the patent thicket is so dense already and the Proprietary Patent Club is joining hands to keep any newcomer out of the competition. And that’s exactly why articles about Google “whining” or viewing this as just a verbal war are missing the point Google was making, namely pointing out that it can be *illegal* to use patents for an anticompetitive purpose. There’s a line, and Google is indicating that it thinks that line has been crossed.
As we saw in the Novell patent scenario, the Department of Justice agreed that the deal was not acceptable, intervening to protect the Open Source community, so it understood the danger and altered what Microsoft in particular was allowed to do with the patents it arranged to buy.
So Google isn’t dreaming. This is antitrust reality and that may be why Microsoft took Google’s initial complaint seriously enough to respond.
This isn’t about patents. It’s about antitrust.
Another audiocast from CNET touches the subject, but it is too conformist. As it is sponsored by Apple and Microsoft as key advertisers, it is also filled with conflicts of interest. In any event, Google wastes more money on this whole patent bureaucracy while HTC too finds itself needing to put up a fight against Apple, having surrendered to Microsoft. Here is an interesting take on it:
HTC Develops Workaround To Bypass Apple Patent Attacks
If the workaround are suitable HTC may share them with other partners of the Open Handset Alliance to help boost the deployment of Android.
MPEG-LA and Microsoft booster have posted a silly headline echoing MPEG-LA’s allegations against Google. One of them is in our IRC channel supporting the cartel known as MPEG-LA while the other previously spammed us with MPEG-LA promotion. Google would hate to depend on MPEG-LA as Ubuntu is already extorted by MEPG-LA (the main proponents of MPEG-LA are Microsoft, Apple, and Nokia). One reader wrote to us to say: “The [Ubuntu Forums] thread doesn’t really go anywhere but it does raise the interesting issue of whether any technology is safely imported into and used in the US these days.”
It is worth noting that Rick F., the Patent Troll Tracker, has just had his blog abducted by some cricket spammer. We really need more reporters to expose the shady workings of trolls like MPEG-LA (headed by a patent troll who hides behind a separate entity), which sometimes work at the behest of a "criminal enterprise” using them as a proxy. Thankfully, people are starting to realise how this whole industry of patents really works. It’s repellent. █