01.27.12

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Android Gains Upper Hand in Battle to Defend Android, Microsoft Lobbyists Still Spin the Subject

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents at 11:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The plot to kill Android

Lawyers

Summary: Android-hostile patent wars are fought well by Google and its partners, which have Microsoft-funded lobbyists try to portray them as aggressors (for reactive moves)

Google’s fight to keep Android free faces barriers from CPTN members (Novell’s patents) and their proxy trolls, amongst others. According to this latest update from Groklaw‘s Professor Webbink, Google is getting its way against Oracle:

The court has sided with Google on two of the three remaining claims construction issues. In an order (704 [PDF; Text]) issued yesterday the court interpreted two terms to have the meaning ascribed by Google and overruled the definition advanced by Oracle. The court has elected to leave the third term for consideration at trial, if necessary.

With respect to the ’476 patent, the court found the term “computer-readable medium” to include transmission media as suggested by Google. Oracle had wanted to limit the definition to storage media. By seeking a broadened definition one presumes that Google is aiming to increase the likelihood that the claims will be found invalid. In finding in favor of Google the court pointed to the explicit definition of the term “computer-readable medium” as set forth in the patent’s specification, a definition Oracle wanted to ignore.

Oracle is said to be retreating from the patent angle because it is failing. It had been baffling that Oracle chose to sue Android/Google until we saw in a credible source what Larry Ellison's best friend planned to do. Steve Jobs vowed to even spend tens of billions of dollars just suing Android (if necessary) and so far Apple is said to have spent $0.1 billion or more:

The never-ending war on Android has cost Apple more than $100 million, according to latest estimates. While a huge chunk of that money was spent (read wasted) in claims against HTC.

Motorola, which Apple attacked, is fighting back against Apple (probably as means of deterrence) and Charles Arthur is still flirting with a Microsoft lobbyist over at Tweeter and beyond. The lobbyist (Microsoft-funded lobbyist Florian Müller) is using him to incite against Google and Android. No disclosures in those posts about Florian’s paymasters. The Guardian, now funded by Bill Gates, helps the lobbying efforts of Microsoft. How sad. Here is one better report on the subject:

Motorola Mobility, which is seeking regulatory approval to be bought by Google Inc, has filed a new lawsuit against Apple Inc accusing the iPhone maker of infringing its technology patents.

While Bloomberg keeps the usual corporate bias (still promoting intellectual monopolies in new ways) there are more reasonable sites like a Red Hat site, OpenSource.com, which has just published this new article about patent trolls. To quote part of the article:

When well-known, richly compensated patent lawyers switch from representing world-class tech companies to servicing “non-practicing entities,” something’s up. Could the sordidness of a business based on bringing patent lawsuits be outweighed by large amounts of cash? At least for some, apparently yes.

This week Ashby Jones wrote for the Wall Street Journal about two specific patent lawyers, John Desmarais and Matt Powers, as representative of a larger shift in the practice. Each of them was once an attorney for large companies, protecting those companies’ patent interests in court. Desmarais’ software-related clients included IBM and Verizon; Powers has represented Cisco, Oracle, Microsoft, and Apple. But today they have joined the ranks of “patent trolls,” the colloquial term for “non-practicing entities” (NPE), which exist only to pursue the monetary benefits of aggressive patent-infringement lawsuits.

Ideally, patents protect and motivate innovation as well as benefit future innovators. They can be an important business justification in fields where R&D is expensive, like pharmaceuticals. They put the details of an innovation into public view, inspiring improvements and making a record of its existence, both for historic record and the benefit of future inventors. Thus, companies once used patents to protect what they had put significant resources into creating. Likewise, patent lawyers would work for those companies to defend their patents. Now there are those who are interested only in the financial gain and not in protecting innovation–like Desmarais and Powers.

But this approach is contrary to the intent of the patent system. Worse is when, as the WSJ highlights, some companies sell their patents to an NPE to prevent them from being in the awkward position of suing customers or partners. This practice puts the patent’s advantages in the hands of a non-creator, who almost certainly does not hope to inspire, much less be responsible for, future innovation. Instead of benefiting innovators and the public, going on the patent offense benefits only the bank accounts of the trolls.

Recently, Red Hat was attacked by a patent troll that was passed 2,000 or so patents with help from Microsoft. Here at Techrights we’ll keep a close eye on that. We have also queried Red Hat’s legal team and expect a response soon.

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