02.03.12

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Groklaw Update on Android Patent Cases and Response to FUD From Microsoft Lobbyists

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 11:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Groklaw and SCO ship
Image credited to Groklaw.net

Summary: A few updates of greater importance where the Linux situation is discussed in the context of Android and Novell

THE patent assault on Android is one that we cover here several times per week because Android is perhaps the best example of Linux in the mainstream (criticisms aside) and it helps show the lengths to which Microsoft and Apple would go to derail Linux, even with software patents as we predicted for more than half a decade.

Professor Webbink from Groklaw is perhaps the best source of news about the Oracle vs. Google case, which he claims to be moving along as follows:

Just because the Oracle v. Google case has not been set for trial (and won’t be until at least the time at which Oracle provides its third attempt at a damages report) does not mean the court can’t move the case along, and that is what Judge Alsup has done with his latest order. In an attempt to narrow the issues to be argued at trial, Judge Alsup’s latest order (708 [PDF; Text]) focuses on the copyright issues and directs the parties to provide opening briefs in which they identify each remaining claim of copyright liability and the affirmative defenses to each such claim. In addition, the parties are to identify those issues that should be resolved by the court and those underlying facts that first need to be decided by the jury.

Groklaw continues to face a barrage of FUD from Microsoft boosters who continue to spin/modify the news (in this case about OpenStack wanting to toss Microsoft out) and Microsoft lobbyists who are distorting the story about the ITC and then seeding disinformation in the corporate press along with pro-Microsoft blogs. Pamela Jones from Groklaw debunks the nonsense and explains:

I’m seeing a couple of articles about an initial determination by the ITC against Barnes & Noble on its patent misuse defense, and there’s quite a lot of spin on the ball, thanks to the usual suspects. They are reading a lot into a title of a sealed document. I see many misstatements.

So I’ll explain a little about the process, so you can understand it. For one thing, the title of the sealed ITC initial determination is called an *initial* determination for a reason. It means it isn’t final. The final one comes later. Initial determinations can be reviewed by the full ITC if the defendant petitions for review and even one Commissioner says yes.

Litigation isn’t like football. It is rarely suddenly over.

Most importantly, the materials and depositions Barnes & Noble is seeking in discovery from Nokia and MOSAID have not yet arrived, although the ITC did grant Barnes & Noble’s motion to ask Finland and Canada to provide them, and that’s still ongoing, so there is likely more to go, even at the ITC. So with those materials not yet in hand, Microsoft’s statement today that this means the defense is meritless is… well… to put it kindly premature. I mean, if a determination is made without the complete record being available, what does it mean?

The case is important because it’s about Microsoft’s patent abuses against Android, as well as some of the patent trolls Microsoft is using. Last year we wrote a great deal about Novell’s patents, which went to CPTN, i.e. to Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, and EMC (3 of these are Android foes). Here is a new article about the Department of Justice. Part of it says:

Another example of international cooperation was the Antitrust Division’s close cooperation “with the German Federal Cartel Office on the acquisition of certain patents and patent applications from Novell Inc. by CPTN Holdings (a holding company owned by Microsoft Inc., Oracle Corp., Apple Inc. and EMC Corp.). This was the first merger enforcement cooperation the Division had had with Germany in 20 years.”

Novell became just a pile of patents, which gave Microsoft ammunition with which to threaten UNIX/Linux. The authorities needed to step in after the OSI and FSF had filed a formal complaint. Here is the story of another company which rapidly becomes just a pile of patents. It says: “Remember, back in August, shortly after Google’s purchase of Motorola, Kodak looked like the next company in line for an IP-driven payday. Analysts looking at the high valuations of the Novell, Nortel and Motorola portfolios estimated Kodak had $3 billion in IP assets alone: with a market capitalization of just $700 million, it seemed like easy money. Kodak’s stock rose accordingly in anticipation of a white knight around the corner.”

This is of course not innovation. It’s a case of virtual “goods” being used to make lawyers richer and interfere with fair competition.

Novell, by the way, has just been assigned another patent, according to this roundup from January 22nd. Any new patents in Novell’s hands might eventually be passed to Linux foes, not the OIN.

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