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01.02.12

Reactive Lawsuits Brewing Against Microsoft and Apple

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 12:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lawsuits dance

Lawyer dances

Summary: News about patents with emphasis on the duopoly’s fight against Android/Linux

THE disdain for patents is growing much greater partly owing to the cases against Linux/Android.

To start with the good news, Oracle’s setback is now in the press, not just FOSS/technology sites. To quote:

Oracle’s Patent Claims Against Google Get Rejected

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected several patent claims being brought against Google by Oracle last week. Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) sued Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) last year claiming that Google owed it $6 billion for parts of Java software that were used in the Android operating system. Oracle initially claimed 132 infringements against seven total patents, but upon the judge’s request, the company has whittled down the list to just 50 complaints.

Here is the bigger piece of good news that we found today. Microsoft and Apple might soon be sued by Android makers to deter against those lawsuits that the duopoly launched:

According to Digitimes “A number of handset makers in China, including Lenovo, ZTE, TCL, Coolpad and Konka, has formed an alliance in preparation to counter possible patent infringement lawsuits to bring upon by international players, according to industry sources in Taiwan.”

It’s time for Android manufacturers to come together and create an alliance to fight Microsoft and Apple’s patents attack. If an alliance is formed it will bring an end to the new strategy of Apple and Microsoft — “why innovate when you can litigate.”

Here is another good new article:

Don’t mess with these tech giants or they’ll drag you to court! Apple and Microsoft have made it clear they will not tolerate any infringing of their patents. Both software companies have been awarded legal victories in separate court cases involving violation of their respected patents. Interestingly, both suits indirectly targeted the search engine giant Google.

Over at Wired, 2011 is proclaimed to have been a bad year:

2011: The Year Intellectual Property Trumped Civil Liberties

Online civil liberties groups were thrilled in May when Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), the head of the powerful Judiciary Committee, announced legislation requiring the government, for the first time, to get a probable-cause warrant to obtain Americans’ e-mail and other content stored in the cloud.

But, despite the backing of a coalition of powerful tech companies, the bill to amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act was dead on arrival, never even getting a hearing before the committee Leahy heads.

In contrast, another proposal sailed through Leahy’s committee, less than two weeks after Leahy and others floated it at about the same time as his ECPA reform measure. That bill, known as the Protect IP Act, was anti-piracy legislation long sought by Hollywood that dramatically increased the government’s legal power to disrupt and shutter websites “dedicated to infringing activities.”

Apple is meaning accumulating more patents [1, 2, 3] on features that were implemented before by others while in the Indian press we learn that the patent question returns:

Erosion of privacy and personal freedom on online media drew worried mention at the just-concluded Fourth International FOSS (free and open source software) Conference-Kerala here (FOSSK4).

The declaration adopted at the end of the three-day conference called for appropriate legal measures to address increasing instances of this menace.

It also asserted the importance of FOSS in stimulating individual, collective and social creativity in a variety of domains ranging from culture, and the arts to music and digital content.

It voted with its feet for rejection of software patents as these tended to stifle innovation in software.

We wrote a lot about software patents in India quite a lot a few years ago when the issue was debated at a legislative arena.

The Irish press notes that patent lawsuits are “back in fashion”:

LITIGATION IS nothing new as a business tool – even the ancient Greeks had laws protecting trademarks.

But by any measurement, 2011 was an extraordinary year in terms of technology companies resorting to legal fisticuffs, particularly within one narrow sector: smartphones and tablet computers such as the iPad and Samsung Galaxy (which run on similar operating systems).

As in any brawl, usually just a few pugnacious characters start it. In this case, it has been Apple and Google aiming punches in disputes about patents involving Apple’s iPhone and iPad software, and Google’s open source Android operating system, which has found a home in an ever increasing range of mobile handsets and tablets in a market that Apple long dominated.

The British press says that Apple’s strategy against Linux/Android is not successful:

Jobs’ ‘nuclear war’ is not doing Apple any good – analyst

Apple’s patent wars will start to hurt shareholders if Apple continues to pursue its lawsuits against Samsung, HTC and Motorola, an analyst has said.

Kevin Rivette, a managing partner at 3LP Advisors LLC, told Bloomberg that even if Apple won its patent battles, it was playing a losing game. Legal fees aside, the “thermonuclear war” that Jobs launched against the Android manufacturers in a fit of rage circa 2009 isn’t stamping out Cupertino’s competition but the hostility engendered could stop Apple from getting access to new technology it needs.

Here at Techrights we made a call to boycott Apple until it stops suing like mad. We got some press for it, such as this:

Anti-patent group Techrights has called for a boycott of Apple products with the aim to get the fruity firm to drop its legal attack against both Linux and Android.

The organisation says that “The cult of Mr. Jobs loves to pretend that it invented the smartphones, CrunchPad-like tablets, and all things shiny.” This would be ok in some ways, but Apple of course has to act on these feelings, leading to attempts to not only sue organisations it sees as infringing, but to embargo as well.

The original post suggesting that Techrights boycott Apple products for the forseeable future, went on to say that this was an incredibly ballsy strategy for a company that “built itself on knockoffs.”

There was also coverage in other languages. SJVN writes about this status quo where competition becomes more about lawsuits and less about production. The corporate press carries on with “IP” propaganda and puts the issue among the top ten for last year.

A summary of 2011 controversies has this one listed:

Back in 2007, Microsoft first alleged that open source software infringes on at least 235 Microsoft patents. That allegation led to multiple companies including Novell (and now SUSE) signing patent deals with Microsoft.

In 2011, Microsoft’s patent focus seemed to sharpen on Android. Except for Motorola, Microsoft now has every major Android phone vendor in some kind of deal over intellectual property.

No, Microsoft did not pursue a ‘SCOsource’ type license going after individual Linux users or even distros. Microsoft has chased the money and gone after big consumer electronics vendors.Their ‘SCOsource’ is all about the big Android vendors.

In response to more Android FUD, Muktware writes:

I was not surprise when I saw a Forbes headline “Android: The Consequence Of Open” because Forbes is a known anti-Linux outfit. They were the ones who gave Microsoft the platform to spread the FUD that Linux infringes upon their patents which was blown away in a long article. I was not surprised when I found that Forbes story was based on a TechCrunch story written by an Apple fanboy called MG Seigler who writes made up anti-Android blogs when there is nothing good to write about Apple. Ironically both Todd and MG are contradicting themselves in a desperate attempt to attack Android.

There is a followup where Apple fans are blamed as well:

MG Siegler, the Apple columnist for TechCrunch, takes a pot shot on Android and Google when there is nothing good to cover about Apple. He tried to give Google a finger by posted a profile image with universally offensive finger. When Google gave him a finger by ‘allegedly’ removing the image, he went on war with Google. That was not enough, he supposedly started digging through tweets to find something to get some attention and found that one of the most popular tweets of Andy Rubin was missing. He created a hill out of a mole by writing a blog called “The Definition Of Open Is…Missing”.

[...]

This according to MG is against ‘open source’. Let me enlighten MG with the basic definition of open source. The primary definition of open source (I don’t know what MG mean by open!) is that a user must have access to the source and right to modify and redistribute it. How does deleting a tweet violates open-ness?

Anyway, since MG is clueless about how open source works let me tell you why Andy deleted the tweet. Because it was wrong. The command that Andy posted doesn’t work anymore. Since you can’t edit tweets the way you can edit your Google + post, the only sensible option was to delete it. A deleted tweet is far better than a wrong tweet.

Bilal Akhtar, one of the famous Ubuntu developers, commented on MG’s post, “Getting down to facts, +MG Siegler, Rubin deleted the tweet because that method doesn’t work any more. The commands are wrong, now that the Android source code isn’t hosted on git.kernel.org, but instead on android.googlesource.com.”

Over at the Bay area’s press, Apple’s strategy against Android is questioned:

Steve Jobs told his biographer that Apple would rather wage “thermonuclear war” with Google Inc. than make deals to share its technology with the maker of the Android operating system.

That was no empty threat. In the 18 months before Jobs died on Oct. 5, Apple sued HTC, Samsung Electronics and Motorola Mobility, the three largest Android users. It alleged that the phone makers stole Apple’s technology and asked courts to make them stop.

Apple is further criticised for more ridiculous patents:

Apple patent on “interface supporting application switching” = more evil monopoly

Matt Yglesias link here picks up a story on patents from Steve Landsburg link here.

The patent covers a “portable electronic device with graphical user interface supporting application switching”. The effect of the patent seems to preclude any other smartphone maker from doing the same thing.

The above is merely an accumulation of new articles. Soon enough we shall properly write articles on these issues. It’s likely to be our point of focus in 2012.

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A Single Comment

  1. Michael said,

    January 2, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Gravatar

    Summary: When others sue Apple and MS for patent infringement it is because Apple and MS are evil monopolies… when Apple and MS sue for patent infringement it is because Apple and MS are evil monopolies. It does not matter who is suing whom or what the details are – Apple and MS are *always* in the wrong.

    When they sue each other the world explodes. :)

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