Don’t do lawyers, Google
Summary: The British press names companies which are promoting software patents in the United States and Google is one of them
WE WARNED ABOUT this years ago. Rather than fight for people’s interests when it comes to patents, Google hired some of the same people who fight for themselves and against people’s interests (making themselves necessary through patent battles).
Now that SCOTUS is looking into software patents (Joe Mullin is distracting from the real issue by focusing on patent trolls, as usual, except when he takes this other angle) we have a real chance to redeem software developers from greedy business monopolists and their guardians, the lawyers. According to this report, however, Google is among those who argue for software patents. Having HP in there is not surprising given the company’s history of patent PR. It is definitely not surprising to see Microsoft and IBM there; they are the leading and biggest proponents of software patents. The report says that SCOTUS “will hear from a consortium of technology companies today that have weighed in over software patents.
“Later today, nine US Supreme Court Justices will sit for one hour of argument by representatives from companies including Google, IBM, Microsoft and HP.
“The software patent standards that the companies are seeking vary, however they are all calling for tightening patent law to protect software implementation in their field.
“Suzanna Michel, senior patent consel for Google said in a statement to Bloomberg, “The fact that we have not policed this patentability requirement and have allowed the issuance of a lot of abstract, overbroad patents for doing business on the Internet — those patents have fueled this litigation.””
Google has a “senior patent counsel” (turns out it’s a former FTC official which AOL describes as one of “the commission’s top intellectual property officials” and whose education background confirms to be a laywer) and according to this report Google is now part of the problem, making the USPTO even more developers-hostile. Having read the original article, it is a little unclear whether Google actively promotes software patents (Michel speaks about business methods), but given Google’s track record of applying for and buying software patents — a trend we severely suffer from and have criticised — Google can no longer oppose software patents with a straight face. The press now claims that Google is actively harboring such patents. It’s the first time we see this. The author, Chris Merriman, cites this report from Greg Stohr and Susan Decker.
“Well, They can’t hide,” wrote Mr. Bosson from the FFII (Sweden), “Microsoft’s Amicus Brief is quite defensive for sw-patents, using EPO-style arguments to protect them.”
He quotes Microsoft, Adobe and HP as saying: “Software makes computing technology work” (so does silicon!).
“Only by looking at the each claim as a Whole,” is also what they say. “Just like EPO makes software patents OK,” Bosson remarks.
HP and Microsoft both did some nefarious things in Europe, as we have covered here in Techrights, so let’s not be misled by news that some HP laptops may come with GNU/Linux (in the UK) [1,2]. HP is definitely not a friend of Free software based on these policies; as for Google, it seems to be drifting away in its own trajectory. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
While anyone living in China or India can walk into a store and buy an Ubuntu laptop off the shelves, those of us in Europe and the US find hunting down brand-name notebooks loaded with Linux a bit of a hassle.
The HP notebook – priced at £219.99 and available at the end of April – will be the first computer of its kind to come pre-installed with the free operating system from Linux.