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10.24.12

Apple Attacks on Android (and Linux) Continue to Summon Patent Nemesis

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 7:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“FSF did some anti-Apple campaigns too. Personally I worry more about Apple because they have user loyalty; Microsoft doesn’t.”

Bradley M. Kuhn (SFLC)

Summary: Apple stories of shame and notable patent complaints relating to Apple litigation

THERE is improved realisation in the FOSS community that Apple is a threat and that software patents are Apple’s weapon of choice against FOSS. Torvalds, a proud user of Apple hardware, calls for the end of software patents again, perhaps not realising that he surrounds himself by some of the same companies that promote these most adamantly. To quote a subscribers-only new article:

Linux operating system pioneer Linus Torvalds has called for the US to abolish software patents…

This takes some guts. Why? Well, some backers of the Linux Foundation, such as IBM and Intel, promote software patents. We covered some examples as such before.

People who denounced me for what I wrote about Steve Jobs finally tell me I was right all along because it is him who made Apple an arrogant aggressor. He thought he had invented smartphones and managed to convince some people that he had. Only yesterday I heard this nonsense said by two friends in their fifties. Suffice to say, I rebutted.

“Well, some backers of the Linux Foundation, such as IBM and Intel, promote software patents.”Apple continues to collect software patents on obvious ideas that are merely old stuff “on a phone”. See this one new example: “Oh Sure, Now The Patent Office Realizes Apple’s ‘Rubberbanding’ Patent Is Both Obvious And Not New”

“We’ve expressed concerns in the past about the crappy job that the USPTO does in approving patents, when it’s clear that, the majority of times that the USPTO is asked to go back and double check its work, it is forced to admit it was wrong. This happens quite frequently in high profile patents used in lawsuits as well. And while some judges are willing to wait for the USPTO to admit its errors, too often the courts just rush through, assuming that the patent must be perfectly valid. Given all that, it’s worth noting that the USPTO has now issued a non-final rejection of all claims in Apple’s infamously ridiculous “rubberbanding” patent, over the ability for a page to “bounce back” if you scroll to the edge. The key claim in the patent was rejected for failing both standards for patentability. That is, the court found it to be both obvious and not new. Of course, if they had asked anyone who knew anything about programming, they could have told you that ages ago.”

Groklaw has covered this too. Apple’s bounce-back patent is also on its way out (caution: article quotes/cites paid spinner Microsoft Florian). But Apple continues to patent yet more nonsense (more quickly than old nonsense is nullified) and Samsung is moving forward with more features, which actually put Android ahead of anything Apple can offer:

Its accountants may be wringing their hands, but South Korean manufacturing giant Samsung is putting on a brave public face, despite being ordered to pay $1 billion in fines to Apple for copyright infringement. Samsung is forging ahead, with its new phones packed with innovative features continuing to gobble more of the domestic market share.

Although Samsung denies it, Apple is getting ditches by Samsung Display (maybe there is only some truth to it, e.g. prospectively) and Japanese courts throw out another case, just as they did Apple’s. Charles Arthur, here in the UK, provides an overview of key issues and Pamela Jones shows how evil Apple is being. To quote:

One of the exhibits Samsung has now made public tells an interesting tale. It’s the slide presentation [PDF] that Apple showed Samsung when it first tried (and failed) to get Samsung to license Apple’s patents prior to the start of litigation. While some of the numbers were earlier reported on when the exhibit was used at trial, the slides themselves provide more data — specifically on the difference between what Apple wanted Samsung to pay for Windows phones and for Android phones. The slides punch huge holes in Apple’s FRAND arguments. Apple and Microsoft complain to regulators about FRAND rates being excessive and oppressive at approximately $6 per unit, or 2.4%; but the Apple offer was not only at a much higher rate, it targeted Android in a way that seems deliberately designed to destroy its ability to compete in the marketplace.

Many sites including Groklaw took note of the new study on patents which impacts smartphones. Mike Masnick’s site says:

There Are 250,000 Active Patents That Impact Smartphones; Representing One In Six Active Patents Today

A few years back we created a graphic to highlight the ridiculous patent thicket around smartphones. It really just highlights some, though not all, of the litigation concerning patents related to smartphones.

Groklaw speaks of samsung legal strategy here:

Samsung Has Workarounds for All 3 “Infringed” Apple Patents; and Some Testimony on the ’381 Patent ~pj

Samsung has created workarounds for the three Apple patents that the jury ruled were infringed, the ’381, ’163 and ’915 patents. The ’381 patent is the one that the USPTO just tentatively rejected, due to prior art. But in any case, none of these patents are now being used by Samsung, according to a declaration [PDF] by Tim Rowden, VP of Product Management at Samsung, just filed with the court. It’s in support of Samsung’s opposition to Apple’s motion asking for a permanent injunction. Obviously, there is nothing to block if Samsung isn’t using any of the patents any more.

Amazon, one of the largest technology companies around, is among those who complain about the patent wars against Android:

It is starting to look like Amazon boss Jeff Bezos is right – patent wars are killing the tech industry.

Bezos, who famously encouraged his staff to file for controversial web patents on obvious ideas like “one click to buy”, appears to have had a change of heart and is turning into an advocate for patent reform.

Now new research, seen by InfoWorld and published as a consequence of the America Invents Act, supports Bezos’ worries.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has conducted a study on the effects of patent trolls on the economy by using figures squeezed from the Stanford IP Clearinghouse (now called Lex Machina).

Covering five-years from 2007 to 2011, the report identifies and classifies patent activities across all industries and uses a statistically significant sample to draw conclusions.

Let’s wait and see if anything gets done about it. Mike Masnick argues that ending software patents would be merely the start but not the solution because hardware patents may be next. As he puts it: “There’s been plenty of talk about software patents, and tons of discussions from people suggesting that perhaps the “solution” to problems with the patent system are to simply carve out software (and business method) patents, and make those unpatentable. There are plenty of reasonable arguments for why “software” should not be patentable (I tend to find the arguments that you can’t patent math, and that software is really math, the most compelling). However, I’d like to argue that while software patents are a large part of the problem, focusing solely on carving out software patents does not address the real problems of the patent system — and, in fact, could serve to paper over the real problem by solving for a “symptom” (i.e., an awful lot of “software” patent trolling cases).”

The debate about patents has shifted somewhat; some call for the end of all patents, not just software patents. Let’s keep involved in this debate. Difference is definitely being made, little by little.

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4 Comments

  1. NotZed said,

    October 24, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Gravatar

    “Apple’s bounce-back patent is also on its way out”

    Oh god, I hope this doesn’t mean more applications start using it.

    It’s the most annoying feature on firefox/android, quite headache inducing.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Apple has US monopolies on some bad or malicious ideas, e.g. disabling a phone remotely to restrict filming.

    That’s the genius of Mr. Jobs.

  2. mcinsand said,

    October 24, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Gravatar

    Roy, one of the nicest features of your site, when I found it, was being allowed to crticize Apple without messages being deleted or having a warning show up in my account. Sadly, very sadly, too many of the FOSS community are finding out how wrong they were when they were looking the other way… when they assumed that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend,’ and so any company that is not Microsoft must be okay. Even more sadly, I can say that I was right in that a company that is as evil as Apple can’t be ignored, just because it has/had a minor market share. Several times, I was told forcefully that the major market share offenders are the ones to worry about, and I kept spouting back that, if you don’t deal with a problem when it is small, then you will have a real headache if it grows larger. Apple is that problem. When it comes to evil, anticompetitive behavior, and when it comes to anti-FOSS principles, Apple is the pro, while MS is just a lucky amateur.

    In a good way, Apple is desperate, while, in a bad way, they know that they have to lash out with any weapon that they can muster. Apple cannot compete against Android on performance, so software patents, litigation, and injunctions are their only option. Again, they don’t mind taking and copying from FOSS, as we saw with Webkit, but they feel entitled to keep any benefit for themselves. Every one of us that purchases electronic hardware has a choice, and we need to stringently avoid anything with the Lemming-Logo on it… and I wish Mr. Torvalds would realize that pretty on the outside is ugly on the inside, especially when the purchase profits support evil. For people that value freedom, choice, and ethics, the Lemming-Logo should be anathema.

  3. Michael said,

    October 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Gravatar

    Not only is Apple not against open source, they make use of a lot and manage some large open source projects. The whole premise of this article is absurd.

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