01.25.12

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Patents Roundup: Oracle, Microsoft (via MOSAID), and Apple Lawsuits Against Linux/Android

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents at 9:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Some businessmen

Summary: A collection of news about the litigious challenges from monopolists against Linux in the mainstream

THERE IS something about the patent system that nobody can miss. Its main proponents and benefactors are those greedy patent lawyers who want to put their tentacles on real work and tax it. People who file those are typically those patent lawyers who somehow convince technical people that they need a monopoly. In the case of multinational mega-corporations, those monopolies might make business sense, but what about the rest of the businesses?

Patent trolls further complicate the situation because all they do is raise the price of everything and promote no agenda of a producing company (quite the contrary in fact). One new article asks, are “Legal: Ecommerce Owners Liable to Patent Trolls?”

To quote:

There has recently been an increase in the number of patent claims against website developers and operators. The claims are based on “business method” and software patents for various functions of a website, such as drop-down menus, site search, and other common functions. Many of these functions are in common use by many developers, who do not know that the software or method they are using is covered by a patent. Many of these patents are old, and developers have furthered website development using their functions to create new technologies, which are still covered by the patent. In addition, searching patent registrations to determine if your website is infringing on an issued patent is difficult, time consuming, and expensive. “Patent trolls” are patent owners that take advantage of the difficulties of finding a patent, and lie in wait for someone to use their technology without realizing it is covered by the patent owners rights under their patent.

The USPTO has widened the scope of patentability to the realms of the absurd. Sun Microsystems engineers used to joke about it and see how absurd a patent application can pass muster. Later on their patents ended up in Oracle’s hand to attack Linux/Android. Regarding this case, Groklaw writes:

With that short statement [PDF] Oracle advised the court today that it will undertake a third attempt to produce a satisfactory damages report and that it will do so in compliance with the orders of the court. I have no doubt they will produce the report. Whether they will be able to restrain themselves in the manner directed by the court remains to be seen. If past history is any indication, don’t hold your breath.

Oracle is trying to make Android more expensive. Along with Oracle we have Microsoft and its proxies doing the same thing. One patent troll, MOSAID, is quite clearly such a proxy and Groklaw has this to say about its case against Red Hat:

Facing numerous filings that either seek to dismiss MOSAID’s claims altogether or to block MOSAID from filing a second amended complaint, MOSAID has now responded with a raft of responses. Of course, MOSAID believes the law is on its side and that all parties should remain in the conjoined suit and all of MOSAID’s new claims added in the second amended complaint should be permitted. How the court decides these issues will largely determine whether this ends up as one suit or multiple suits. In any case, don’t expect MOSAID to back down.

Let’s remember Microsoft’s involvement in passing thousands of patents to MOSAID. Then there’s Apple, which launched attacks on Android/Linux (starting with the Apple vs. HTC case), but as another court loss is reached it seems possible that Apple cannot do much:

The lawsuit that Apple slammed HTC with is over and $100 million in legal fees later, Apple have nothing to show for it. Apple have been known to protect their design patents fiercely and in some instances, irrationally and for many who have been following the HTC lawsuit, the same thoughts ring, what exactly was Apple hoping to achieve through the lawsuit?

To quote another report:

The decision was an appeal of a ruling from a lower regional court in August 2011, requesting a temporary injunction. At the time, Apple did win a temporary injunction in the Netherlands. However, it was based on a photo gallery scrolling patent and not design-related patents, which were ruled not to infringe in the ruling on Tuesday.

The British press covered this as well [1, 2], not to mention Android sites that wrongly characterise a Microsoft lobbyist as a FOSS advocate:

After a solid year of courts beckoning to Apple’s call, it would seem that sanity is returning to European benches. Taking a queue from Germany, which is set to reject Apple’s patent case over the revised Galaxy Tab 10.1N, a Dutch court rejected Apple’s final appeal to get Samsung’s tablet banned from sale in the Netherlands. Free and Open Source Software advocate Florian Mueller reported the legal news on the FOSS Patents blog. The appeal denial is the latest in a string of many Apple defeats and few victories in the last few months.

Florian is definitely not a FOSS advocate; he is the exact opposite, but he names himself to confuse. He is paid by Microsoft to attack FOSS causes.

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