08.23.11

Amid Motorola Patents Sale, More Calls to Abolish Patents and More Microsoft Brainwash

Posted in Google at 10:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Google is the patent villain that threatens the world, says the Microsoft crowd

Earth as abstract

Summary: Patents increasingly being recognised for what they really are, however Microsoft spinners try to give an illusion of balance

“A

mong Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc.’s more than 17,000 patents, a group of 18 may prove most useful in Google Inc. (GOOG)’s effort to fend off litigation targeting the Android mobile platform,” writes Brian Womack, citing concerns that are echoed by some Linux sites, claiming:

A Bloomberg report had identified a group of 18 of those patents that could be particularly helpful in countering Apple’s many Android lawsuits. The circa-1994 patents are said to cover location services, antenna designs, email transmission, touchscreen motions, software-application management, and 3G wireless technologies.

“That’s the back-of-the-envelope math from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who calculated the success Google could have if it acquires Motorola and transitions Android from an open-source model to a proprietary model,” the Linux site notes. But why would it be suggested that Google might do this? “Take a look at this naughty piece of FUD,” wrote to us a loyal reader, quoting Microsoft MVP and Linux basher Jason Hiner and those who boost his FUD over at Forbes. It’s just amazing how much spin and deception were produced by this Motorola move.

Well, there is no denying that “Cellphone Patent Disputes Piling Up” (as Murdoch’s paper now puts it) and the latest infographic says it all really. An infographic that is up to date can be found in several reports that argue for patent reform — a real reform. The barbedwire strung around smartphones makes a rethink imperative. it does everything but encourage innovation. It promotes litigation at the expense of implementation and as we stressed many times before, lawyers are taking away jobs from programmers — a point which is even being made by a Microsoft booster.

The Guardian, which has just published a Stallman article on the subject of software patents (to be dealt with in a later post), finally publishes a piece against software patents. To quote:

Most people understand the origins and rationale of ordinary industrial patents. They give, say, a pharmaceutical company which has spent a fortune developing a new drug a window to profit from its investment before the rest of the world can make cheaper versions. But software patents, though legally similar, are very different in practice. Google’s $12.5bn purchase of Motorola’s mobile phone activities last week caused a stir in the business and technology worlds alike, because the reason for it was not to acquire Motorola’s phones but its portfolio of up to 17,000 “software patents”, which have become the gold dust of the digital age.

L. Gordon Crovitz makes a similar point even in Murdoch’s press when he claims that:

The costs of our broken patent system are often abstract, but this month Google put a price tag on the problem: $12.5 billion. That’s what Google paid for Motorola’s U.S. smartphone business and its 17,000 patents. This is $12.5 billion that one of America’s most creative companies will not use to innovate, fund research or hire anyone beside patent lawyers.

The patent lawyers must love all of this and one of their favourite blogs looks closely at the question the USPTO was originally created to handle and address, “[d]o Patents Disclose Useful Information?” This was the point of the USPTO back in the days — to encourage/incentivise publication (in exchange for a limited-time monopoly). Quoting Patently-O:

In her recent article Do Patents Disclose Useful Information?, Lisa Larrimore Ouellette tackles this issue head-on, offering empirical support for the position that patents do convey useful information. Ouellette, herself a former nanotech scientist, provides the results of a survey conducted of nanotechnology researchers that suggests that, at least in that industry, researchers look to patents for their technical teachings, and that they believe that patents provide useful information that is not available elsewhere – with one notable exception, the problem of reproducibility. Based on these findings, Ouellete argues that we do not grant patents because of disclosure; rather, we require disclosure because we grant patents.

That is a reversal, is it not? It further validates that the USPTO has lost its way.

It ought to be noted that Microsoft’s legal attacks on Android (through Motorola) are resuming these days. From Microsoft-friendly sources:

The Microsoft-Motorola case is one in the larger arena of software patents. Some have been settled, but many are still outstanding. Last month, HTC lost a preliminary ruling from an ITC judge. The phone maker was sued by Apple, which claimed 10 of their patents were infringed upon.

Watch what the Microsoft booster of the Washington Post writes without quite criticising Microsoft for its aggression.

Part of the brainwash from Microsoft circles is that this is a battle between two ferocious giants rather than a shameless attack from Microsoft, the loser in the mobile space, using dubious patents that never ought to have been granted. Watch out carefully for disinformation. There is a lot of it these days. It piggybacks big news about an expensive acquisition.

“Graham’s notion that if you are against software patents you must be against ALL patents” is the false dichotomy noted right now by the President of the FFII. It is another form is popular brainwash that we see all the time, even from Apple apologists. The article in question states:

The Valley is loving the patent discussion right now. For every meme, it seems there is a matching “here’s-how-patents-relate-to-that” meme. Just because a thing is popular doesn’t make it right, and thankfully, most commentators on the patent issue seem to agree that it hurting innovation much more than it’s helping it. It hurts innovation in many ways, but it’s worth going back over at least some of them here.

The Cost of Patents to Innovation are now Tangible and Large

We’re seeing this measured almost daily. Scoble is working through the math for WebOS even today when he values the WebOS patents at circa $3 billion for 2000, or $1.5 million apiece. That doesn’t seem too far afield if we look at patents in a way similar to how VC’s have to look at their portfolios. In other words, many will be worthless, but a few will be quite valuable indeed and will more than make up for all the rest. We don’t have to spend very long looking at the billions raised by Nathan Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures to realize that many astute financial minds really do look at it that way. In recent years, it’s been a good bet that financial engineering to produce wealth was really inflating a bubble of one kind or another that would destroy a tremendous amount of wealth for the general public. Why would we be surprised to learn that patents are just another way to play the same Ponzi scheme?

Yes, and that last statement sums it up in a strongly-worded fashion.

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2 Comments

  1. Agent_Smith said,

    August 24, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Gravatar

    You know, what pisses me the most ? The Google/Motorola deal is not different from Micro$haft/Nokia deal. Just M$ did not pay billions for it, and still got a front seat in the deal. But, the M$ boosters hurry to point fingers on Google and call it names. M$ does the very same thing, and it is right, Google, is with tied hands in the patents lawsuits and can’t defend itself ? Holy fabricated FUD, Batman…

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The Microsoft proponents do what they can to daemonise Google.

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