Back to the basket for the bullies from Cupertino
Summary: A roundup of news about Apple’s patent wars (against everyone) and a bit of good news, arriving just before Christmas
AS we return to covering the patent issue we regret to say that there is mostly bad news. Being aware of the news, however, is regretfully essential.
The subject we chose to tackle last is Apple. This company is fast becoming just as much of a nuisance as Microsoft has been. The Inquirer (British tech tabloid) has a nice way of covering Apple stories and it is filled with subtle humour that cushions the blow of horrible news. Recently it covered the news about Apple getting sued for caller ID patents. Previously, a caller ID app for Android was killed this way, demonstrating the terrible state of the patent system.
“Apple’s behaviour with patents is not just harming Linux or Android users; it is harming everyone and even Opera is complaining, noting that Apple patents undermine open standards.”Apple the patent bully might learn to dislike software patents if it gets sued by them quite a lot. So in a way the above news can be classified as good news.
Apple’s behaviour with patents is not just harming Linux or Android users; it is harming everyone and even Opera is complaining, noting that Apple patents undermine open standards. Mike Masnick put it like this and “going for leadership in evil” wrote Glyn Moody (via Jérémie Zimmermann).
Royalty-free web vid spec sets sail with Apple’s help
A proposed standard to stream video online smoothly, regardless of network conditions, has been pushed forward with some rather unexpected patent-holder help.
MPEG-DASH was approved in a vote by ISO national member bodies as a way to stream media over HTTP. Publication of the standard is expected “shortly”.
MPEG-DASH could supersede a raft of proprietary and royalty-protected technologies, developed by tech companies to stream media to mobile devices in particular – which are at the mercy of varying network speeds and connectivity conditions.
To Hell with Apple for helping those patent trolls. Another person who helps them is Microsoft Florian, who has pushed their agenda since last year. Florian no longer tries to endorse Microsoft in public because people already know that Microsoft pays him. That would further discredit this deceitful lobbyist.
“Florian no longer tries to endorse Microsoft in public because people already know that Microsoft pays him.”Looking at what Apple does to Linux/Android, here we have a report on “Apple’s first major legal win against Android,” which is “no slam dunk” because despite attempts to remove Linux devices from the shelves, Apple is not quite there yet. But to quote Reuters: “Patent firm IPCom said on Tuesday it had asked top German cellphone retailers to stop selling phones of HTC, threatening them with legal action, as HTC has not complied with a court ruling on injunction of its sales.”
FOSS-hostile patent lawyers write about Apple’s embargo attempts in the US and Murdoch’s fake news claims that HTC phones are “banned from store shelves” although it’s not quite true in practice. As the FFII’s president puts it:
Laughing loud on Apple’s patent “tap on a phone number or address contained in an email to immediately call the number”
Due to this kind of stupidity “Apple May Get To Remove Obvious Features From Android”. Here are some of the details:
Apple May Get To Remove Obvious Features From Android
Copying an idea and building on it is not “stealing.” And if Apple had to build its devices without building on the ideas of others, it wouldn’t have very much today. This whole thing is a joke, and it’s rulings like this that make engineers have even less respect for the patent system.
Apple brings is bullying to Britain now, i.e. it comes to new countries where software patents are in principle not permitted. Slashdot tells us that “Apple Transfers Patents Through Shell Company To Sue All Phone Makers 422″. We covered this some days ago, but here is the summary which has a huge discussion at the end:
“A patent lawsuit (PDF) by patent licensing firm Digitude Innovations curiously targeted all mobile manufacturers except Apple. A TechCrunch story has revealed that the patents used were transferred from Apple via a shell company to DI, and appear to cover features found in virtually all smartphones. The lawsuit even extends to companies that don’t make Android phones, like Nokia and RIM, and to Android OEMs that Apple have not directly sued yet, like Sony. The business model of DI clearly implies that Apple would benefit financially from the lawsuit as a company that contributed patents to DI’s portfolio.”
Slashdot shows another ridiculous patent from Apple and notes that:
“Apple has had quite a week in patents for the iPhone, and it’s only Tuesday. First was the victory at the International Trade Commission over HTC. And now there’s a shiny new patent on switching to an app during a live phone call (#8,082,523). There may be non-infringing ways of doing something similar, but they probably will be clumsy in comparison.”
Supporters of Apple’s ways should take a moment to objectively assess what Apple is doing here.
Here is how Muktware put it: “In a nutshell its about how you can switch between call and an app. Almost every touch-based phone uses this ‘process’ and potentially infringes upon this patent. It will be a challenge for Apple competitors to find other ways to do the same thing. Yet another example of the software/process patent mess that the flawed US patent system is creating.”
European Union regulators suspended their antitrust review of plans by Google Inc. (GOOG), the biggest maker of smartphone software, to buy Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. after requesting more information about the deal.
The antitrust authority will continue the review after it has obtained “certain documents that are essential to its evaluation of the transaction,” said Amelia Torres, a spokeswoman for the Brussels-based European Commission. The commission temporarily stopped the review on Dec. 6, according to a filing on the regulator’s website today.
The patent angle need not be of concern because Google is not offensive with patents, contrary to claims from the Microsoft lobbyist (Florian). If anything, it can make Motorola more patents hostile and thus reduce altercations. According to this new article, patents are becoming more and more of an issue to Google because:
• Is the cloud the new front in the tech patent wars? A company headed by the founders of peer-to-peer networks Kazaa and Morpheus have reportedly banded together to sue Google, Amazon.com, VMWare and others, alleging patent infringement on cloud technology. The website of the plaintiff, PersonalWeb, says the company owns 13 “fundamental pending and issued patents,” and that it is “developing ground-breaking technologies and products,” including StudyPods, an online learning platform that’s in beta. But a patent-law specialist quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald points out that PersonalWeb filed the lawsuits in a Texas court that’s the “preferred venue for so-called patent trolls.” The eight patents in question include those related to “content addressable storage and/or distributed search engine technologies,” according to the SMH.
Going back to Apple, the company is trying to restrict designs based on ideas that it never came up with itself. To quote Slashdot:
“In a public legal brief (PDF), Apple offers numerous design alternatives that Samsung could have used for its smartphones and tablets to avoid infringing on Apple’s patents. Basically, as long as competitors’ smartphones and tablets bear no resemblance to smartphones and tablets, everything’s cool.”
To finish this with some good news (for a change), Apple lost a case in Germany and that rectangle with buttons on it will therefore be legitimate for sale, even without an apple-shaped logo:
Apple Lost Germany, Court May Allow Samsung To Sell Galaxy Tab
After Australia Apple has lost another ‘patent’ post, this time its Germany. A German court earlier banned the sale of Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany owing to ‘controversial’ design patents. The same design patents were rejected in a Dutch court. To respect the verdict, Samsung modified the design of its Galaxy Tab (which in fact enhances the user experiences as the speakers now face the user) and called it Galaxy Tab 10.1N.
Or as SJVN put it:
Take a long look at the two versions of Samung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 on the right. One, says a German court, violated Apple’s iPad intellectual property (IP) design and thus couldn’t be sold in the European Union (EU). The other one is fine and dandy and can be sold. Can you tell the critical IP differences? Try to work it out before this story’s end.
As you may recall, Apple managed this summer to get the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 banned from being sold in the EU (European Union) because its design looked too much like an iPad. That was a dumb decision. Any tablet has to look pretty much like any other tablet. Now, though, it appears that the tide has turned against Apple. The German court has preliminarily decided that Samsung’s revised design no longer violates Apple’s iPad design.
We are probably going to hear a lot more about it next year. Until then, let us savour the taste of this small victory. █