Bonum Certa Men Certa

When Phones Become Just a Big Pile of Patents

Wood



Summary: News suggesting (or even preaching) that computing in the mobile world should be treated as just negotiation (and extortion) over patents

The question about software patents is vital to Microsoft, which has essentially become a patent parasite that feeds on Linux/Android. The New York Times (NYT) was accused by Glyn Moody of posting a "puff piece" for Microsoft about the Samsung deal which harms Android. There are many more such examples, including some from Microsoft boosters pretending to report Android news objectively (instead, they spread Microsoft talking points).



According to another new piece from the NYT, Amazon might be after Palm for its patents. To quote:

Will Amazon Buy Palm for Its Patents?



Shares of Amazon fell about 2 percent in the first hour of trading on Friday, amid speculation that the online retailer might be angling to buy Palm, the fallen mobile device business that Hewlett-Packard bought last year for $1.2 billion.


It turns out that Nokia's deal with Apple is now receiving or was receiving federal scrutiny. The Microsoft-led Nokia is now feeding a Canadian patent troll which is likely to attack Android [1, 2, 3].

Canadian companies such as RIM and Nortel get mentioned in the Canadian press, increasingly as part of the promotion of mobile technology as just a pile of patents. What a gross and dangerous simplification. To paraphrase a recent comment, great ideas need to turn into products, not patents. Anyway, from the Globe and Mail:

That means creating investment funds that can pool and manage nationally vital patents in areas such as software and biotechnology. It requires governments to wield a stick.


Did they really mean to lump software in? These are notoriously improper.

Google's Schmidt meanwhile reassures that Google's purchase of Motorola patents won't be trouble. To quote CNET:

In an attempt to allay fears that Motorola Mobility would receive special treatment following the completion of Google's acquisition, the search giant's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, said that competitors have nothing to fear.


More here on the same subject (Bloomberg promotes the "IP" propaganda, still):

Google Inc. (GOOG) Chairman Eric Schmidt said the $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. may spur competition among phone makers using its Android software, and the company won’t play favorites with its partners.

“The Android ecosystem is the No. 1 priority, and we won’t do anything with Motorola, or anybody else by the way, that would screw up the dynamics of that industry,” Schmidt said in an Oct. 1 interview with Bloomberg Television’s Erik Schatzker in Nantucket, Massachusetts.


Sony's large patent collection has alleviated concern for some:

Sony Ericsson CEO Confident Company Will Avoid Patent Wars



Sony Ericsson, the mobile handset joint venture between Telefon AB L.M. Ericsson (ERIC) and Sony Corp. (SNE), will not become embroiled in the legal battles over patents engulfing its rivals because of its large existing patent portfolio and its policy of cross-licensing those patents, its Chief Executive says.


This still leaves smaller companies open to abuse. How is the patent system affecting competition really? Almost by definition, patents are about protectionism and not competition. Pro-patents Web sites that provide people tips on how to get software patents are doing a huge disservice to the producing industry and all those patent deals we keep hearing about are essentially a cancellation of the artificial limitation known as patents. Some companies issue press releases dedicated just to patents because they fail to actually make products. Microsoft increasingly falls into this category too. We seem to hear about Microsoft extorting Linux phone makers more than we hear about Microsoft's phones (there have been several disparate attempts over the years, but all of them failed).

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