Bonum Certa Men Certa

Advice to Google: Stop Organising Patent Offices

Sergey Brin
Photo by Joi Ito



Summary: Criticism of Google's organisation of patents and their translations which help legitimatise patent monopolies, taking them even further

AS noted in last night's show, Microsoft is trying to portray Google as an "IP" villain pretty much in the same way that SCO tried to portray IBM and individual people like Linus Torvalds as "thieves". This is deliberate. But the point worth making is that Google -- unlike IBM for example -- is rather ambivalent on the subject. Google, unlike IBM, has not had a century as a massive company (during which to amass patents) and at times it seems like Google is prepared to abolish software patents if it can [1, 2]. On other occasions it contradicts itself, sometimes there seem to be inner conflicts between Google lawyers and engineers, and Google generally uses its expertise as knowledge arranger to catalogue patents-related information, thereby validating these increasingly-dubious systems. Over the past couple of years we gave examples on about three occasions.



Google will be better off without a system which favours long-established companies, which not only grew in size but also grew their paper-based monopoly in terms of size (filing for patents, i.e. protectionism). Well, see this new Vista Phony 7 cartoon which says it all really. Basically, that phone platform is dead in the water and this morning I saw a TV advert for it; all they do now is desperately market it using "Office" and "Xbox". Pathetic. That's why Microsoft is trying to extort Android from several different directions. And speaking of which, Kodak seems to be 'pulling a Microsoft' too (now that it doesn't manage to make worthwhile products): "Shares of Eastman Kodak Co (EK.N) soared 16 percent in premarket trading after a trade panel in the United States last week agreed to review a case that could lead to the struggling photography company receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties."

Windows Phone branding -- like lipstick on the analogue photography pig -- won't change the reality. But anyway, the point worth making is that the worst thing Google could do at this stage is legitimise the very same system which threatens its Linux-based platform. Google is doing damaging things for perceived self benefit again (sucking up to the EPO), perhaps not realising that those patent translation it provides could be seen as unifying the system and serving towards the centralised court, whose power could elevate software patents all across Europe (it is a crucial matter and timing counts). What Google should ideally do is just snub the EPO and let it run dry, or realistically sink in its own multi-lingual mess. Instead, Google is helping an arcane system, trying to make PR out of it. Not good. Not evil, either.

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