10.30.10

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Apple is Suing Linux Again, Increasingly Resembling Microsoft

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 5:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lawsuits map

Summary: Another patent lawsuit is filed by Apple against the Linux-powered Android (now at Motorola) and Microsoft’s attempt to ‘tax’ Android everywhere is slammed even by boosters among Microsoft sympathisers

HAVING already sued HTC for its Linux-powered phones, Apple proceeds to using Motorola with similar allegations of software patents violations:

Another day, another patent lawsuit. And this time around it’s Apple suing Motorola over multitouch on nearly all its Android phones — basically everything up to and including the Droid X.

This improved lawsuits map (see above) ought to be updated to include this lawsuit. We found it as part of today’s exchange between the FFII and a Red Hat employee. FFII also wrote about this “consultation on IPR enforcement in third countries” and someone else shared this new patent cartoon from Nina Paley. Yes, the good news is that patents unrest is growing (not just when it comes to software patents as we’ll show in the next post).

“Microsoft can’t compete with free, and as such, needs to jack up the perceived price of an Android installation.”
      –Thom Holwerda, OS News
Despite usually promoting Microsoft’s side and products, Thom Holwerda from OS News is now criticising Microsoft for using software patents against Android. He writes: “Microsoft does have a different angle, though. Microsoft can’t compete with free, and as such, needs to jack up the perceived price of an Android installation. They do this by dredging up some software patents, and by using the utterly broken US patent system, they mafia manufacturers into paying protection money for every Android device sold, thereby levelling the price difference between Android and Windows Phone 7.”

“Redmond threat level: bright orange,” summarises Canonical COO Matt Asay, who says that “Microsoft holds Androids hostage in open source wars” and provides a good explanation starting as follows:

For years Microsoft has raged — and whined — against the open source machine, once going so far as to castigate open source as being “un-American”. Something must be wrong with a development model, as Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Jim Gray once lamented, that evaporates the possibility of profit in software sales.

And yet open source has marched on, eventually claiming mainstream acceptance as it helped highly capitalistic companies such as Google create hugely profitable businesses. While these companies thrive, however, Microsoft remains cautious, as evidenced in its product strategy and in its hiring patterns.
Click here to find out more!

As Microsoft has watched the open source world pass it by, it has had two main responses:

1. Threaten open-source developers with lawsuits.
2. Adopt open source within its own product lines.

Microsoft has been earnest but uneven in its open-source adoption, but sadly consistent in its threats — and the Microsoft-against-open-source threat level moved to bright orange this week with news that Redmond is trying to hold Acer and Asustek hostage by levying patent royalties on them in reponse to those device manufacturers’ use of Google’s open source mobile platform, Android.

TechDirt too has a couple of relevant new posts on this subject area. The first reminds us that OIN (and the likes of it) is not the answer:

We recently wrote about the incredible patent thicket in the smartphone space. For some reason, in the course of a few days, about ten different publications all created a very similar graphic about “who was suing whom” in the smartphone space for patent infringement.

[...]

Are patent pools better than the legal jumble of lawsuits from the graphic above? Maybe. But are they the best solution out there? Absolutely not. Instead, a better solution would be to just let the market compete on the merits of the products and let the market decide, rather than focusing on any monopoly rights that will exclude innovators.

The second post says that “All The Big Social Gaming Companies” got sued for patent violation (including Zynga, which wants patent monopolies of its own):

Someone, who prefers to remain anonymous, sent over the news that a company named Everglades Interactive has sued basically all of the big “social gaming” providers for patent infringement. Among those sued are EA, Playdom, Disney (which just bought Playdom), Zynga, Playfish, Rockyou and Crowdstar. The patent in question? It’s patent 6,656,050, for an “odds accelerator for promotional type sweepstakes, games, and contests.” If you read the details, it seems like the pretty standard process of taking various sweepstakes involving matching pieces (bottle caps, peel off stickers, etc.) to get certain prizes but moving it online. Of course, once you move such a physical process online, you can do slightly different things since you’re not limited by geography and physical distribution. But all that seems like it should be obvious. Not to the patent examiners of course, who judged it patent worthy.

The bottom line is, software patents ought to go. They not only harm Linux but they also occasionally harm large companies (which resort to using them when they can’t compete); the main winners are patent trolls and patent lawyers, who are sometimes the same. The vast majority (or Digital Majority) remains unhappy.

Software patents are for losers

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