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01.27.13

When Our Patents Are ‘Good’ and Others’ Are ‘Bad’

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 12:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cooking pot
Pot calling the kettle “black”

Summary: The issue of hypocrisy in the patents battleground and some updates from Apple’s anti-Android litigation

The opposition to software patents and patent trolls gets a hand from another sector which uses software and gets sued a lot. An advertising-centric site says:

“Congress is wary of going after software patents, so we’re going after the procedure. It may be small ball, but I believe it will be an impact,” said De Fazio, who co-sponsored last year’s bill with Rep. Jason Caffetz (R-Utah.) He’s already held preliminary discussions with Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, about holding hearings.

The ITC finds itself at the centre of this debate about patent trolls, which a patent lawyers’ site covered by saying: “An en banc request for rehearing in the Interdigital case has been denied, but the panel majority has released a new opinion particularly addressing the patent-troll-domestic-industry question. Judge Newman has also released a new dissenting opinion.”

We wrote about Interdigital in [1, 2].

Another domestic patent dispute involves software patents and as CBS puts it: “The EchoStar subsidiary that makes the Slingbox alleges that its rivals unfairly copied aspects of its place-shifting devices.”

A proponent of software patents, a man who is widely believed to be the first software patent holder, is already dismissing some software patents. How convenient it must be to him that his patents are “good” and others’ are “bad” software patents. As Guardian puts it, “Amazon 1-Click ‘should never have been awarded’ and Apple’s pinch-and-zoom ‘questionable’ says man who changed software industry in 1968 (updated)”

A FFII activist says: “Not too complicated to say why we don’t need Software patents. Not the right tool and I don’t want to walk a mine field” (of someone else).

To some developers, the idea of getting their own patents may seem tempting as long as or until they reailise that with others’ hundreds of thousands of software patents they won’t be able to develop anything peacefully.

Apple likes to claim credit for inventing stuff it didn’t invent and suing over it, quite often deceivingly or fraudulently. It’s then that we realise just how much it ripped others off and usually we see it sued in return. It’s a PR disaster. Apple’s CEO may be deposed for patent blackmail quite soon [1, 2]. Apple almost sued Palm and the current CEO was the one behind threats that we covered at the time.

Over at the legal blogs, we learn more about Apple’s fight against Samsung:

Magistrate Judge Paul Grewall has now ruled [PDF] on Samsung’s request for help getting discovery from Apple for use in the Japanese litigation between them. He has decided that he’d like to wait for the Japanese court to rule on Samsung’s discovery requests. If they deny, then Samsung is free to resubmit its request in the Seattle court.

What does it mean? It means Samsung has two shots to get what it is looking for. If Japan says no, in addition, it will confirm what Samsung told the California court. Both sides provided a lawyer declaration, Samsung’s saying that Japanese courts don’t order such discovery, and Apple’s lawyer saying it does. So the judge wisely says, let it play out, and let’s see. After it all plays out, then we’ll all know.

An Apple fan site boasting patents reminds us that Samsung too has a lot of patents:

The Electronic Times and the Gwanggaeto Patent Research Institute recently analyzed the patent management of Apple, Samsung and Google amongst other tech companies and found that the ongoing litigation between Apple and Samsung has caused most large tech companies to increase the number of patents they own.

In the USPTO, which is foreign to Samsung (Korean company), Samsung “came in second, with 5,081 patents—up nearly 4 percent,” says this report which quantifies patents in terms of totals. Apple Insider, another pro-Apple site, says that Kodak may have its patents shared amongs Apple and Android backers, raising the cost of everything (it is part of the cartel).

Apple would like Android devices to get more expensive, even if by patent stacking, which is an anticompetitive tactic. Apple just got desperate because shops consider iPhone inferior to Android phones. Except in the US market, Android is simply unstoppable.

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