03.06.14

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Patent Stacking by Microsoft, Apple, Nokia et al. Makes Android/Linux More Expensive, Less Competitive

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 8:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The return of discussions about patent stacking and the role played by the anti-Android camp

ANDROID really took off not just because it’s Free/Open Source software but also because it was free. Now, a few years down the line, Android phones can cost as much as €699 (Samsung Galaxy S5) and although the main reason may be Samsung’s greed (knowing that some people would be willing to pay this price), we should not forget the role patent stacking plays. We have written about it for years.

Microsoft Nokia and Apple signed a secret deal which Samsung now formally complains about, as we covered earlier this week (the latest Google and Samsung complaint is in China). “Nokia,” explains Sosumi, is “now a patent troll and a Microsoft tentacle” (it has been like that for 3 years).

There is secrecy there that harms Android. Not only do Microsoft and Nokia pass patents to trolls who target Android; they also try to engage in patent stacking themselves. A pro-Apple site mentioned this latest twist the other day: “Last October, Apple filed a motion seeking sanctions against Samsung and its outside lawyers, accusing both of unlawfully sharing sensitive data about Apple’s 2011 patent license agreement with Nokia. Specifically, the motion stated that a Samsung executive informed Nokia that the terms of the patent settlement were “known to him”, and used that information to negotiate other patent agreements in Samsung’s favor. The license terms between Apple and Nokia were marked “Highly Confidential – Attorneys’ Eyes Only”, but were shared with other Samsung employees.” Bear this in mind whenever pundits try to claim that Nokia is befriending Android.

Patents which are based on secrecy like this are a matter of price-fixing and collusion. This should be against the law, but guess who writes the laws these days? In India, for example, one major newspaper now publishes the article “India must call the US’ bluff on patents” [1] and in Red Hat’s site Rob Tiller is finally slamming software patents [2] (which he rarely does), adding to increased opposition to software patents these days [3], in light of an imminent SCOTUS milestone event (Red Hat too is involved).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. India must call the US’ bluff on patents

    Apart from the deterioration of the business environment generally, which impacts both domestic and foreign investors, retrospective taxation has figured most prominently in the media as the principal cause of growing scepticism among foreign investors. Entirely missing from the discourse has been an equally potent factor with wholly foreign origins: the hijacking of the economic policy dialogue between the United States and India by pharmaceutical lobbies in the US. Big Pharma has convinced the US government that the country’s interests are synonymous with its own. With its own list of grievances against trade restrictions in India, the National Association of Manufacturers, a lobby group of the United States manufacturers, has lent its support to the pharmaceutical industry.

  2. The Supreme Court jumps into the software patent thicket

    Software patent thickets are often compared to minefields, but with a note of resignation, as though there’s no avoiding them. The U.S. Supreme Court now has before it a case that could go a long way towards addressing the litigation risks and business uncertainties created by software patents. The case is Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, and the issue is whether claims to computer-implemented inventions are eligible for patents.

  3. Public Knowledge Deflates Another Dubious Software Patent By Reducing It To Seven Lines Of BASIC

    Public Knowledge is back at it, carving holes in dubious software patent claims by distilling supposedly “complex” ideas into a minimal amount of code. Late last year, Public Knowledge filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit involving Ultramercial, whose disputed patent basically involved appending “on the internet” to a very basic idea.

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