Bonum Certa Men Certa

Former Microsoft Lawyer and Pro-Microsoft Lobbyist Lie and Distort Android Legalities to Distract From Motorola Sale

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Summary: Team Microsoft provides a distraction to take people's attention away from the news about Android getting more solid legal basis

WELL, guess what? It seems as though we correctly predicted this sale of Motorola to Google even a day before it happened. "It's all about the patents," says ZDNet in the headline and it is probably true. Motorola also gives Google a chance to fight Microsoft and Apple in court, defending Android from some insidious allegations, using counter-attacks with Motorola patents (Google inherits these legal cases which were invoked separately by Microsoft and Apple). Google is buying them at above real value and Google's CEO explains why. Here is Google's official statement. A lot has been written about this already, so we need not say much except that it harms the efforts to fix the patent system but probably helps Linux in the short term.



Here is where it gets interesting. Apart from some dishonest 'journalists' who try to spin this against Google, there are some dishonest people, such as a lawyer previously employed by Microsoft (who later spread some lies about Android), who talk nonsense to distract from the above news. It is proposed by Microsoft's buddy Naughton that Google's Android has GPL problems. Well, just google "Naughton microsoft" and you will get "Lawyer behind Android infringement claim has Microsoft ties" (he hid his Microsoft ties by deletion and later got caught doing this). We covered this at the time while some reposted known lies. Anyway, his latest decoy spawned some headline trolling [1, 2, 3] and a storm over nothing, possibly promoted by Florian Müller's 'spamming' of journalists. He is debunked in Slashdot and other such sites (waste of space and focus), including Groklaw which writes:

Attorney Edward Naughton of Brown Rudnick has written [ Part II] more misinformation about the GPL in yet another false prediction of Android's doom. Once again Mr. Naughton takes a non-story and blows it out of proportion, and of course, FOSSPatents does its part to blow hot air into the story as well.

If the idea is to scare off potential Android OEM's or purchasers of Android-powered phones, this sort of scare tactic is just rubbish. It has failed in the past, and it will fail this time.

People who don't understand the GPL probably shouldn't write about it, including lawyers. I'll show you the mistakes in the article, and please note that while I am a member of the board of directors of Software Freedom Law Center, which will factor into this story, I speak only for myself and Groklaw, not for SFLC in this article.


Bradley M. Kuhn too has responded to this:

Unfortunately, Edward Naughton is at it again, and everyone keeps emailing me about, including Brian Proffitt, who quoted my email response to him this morning in his article.

As I said in my response to Brian, I've written before on this issue and I have nothing much more to add. Naughton has not identified a GPL violation that actually occurred, at least with respect to Google's own distribution of Android, and he has completely ignored my public call for him to make such a formal report to the copyright holders of GPL violations for which he has evidence (if any).


Here is a summary of some responses:

Even as Google announced their acquisition plans for Motorola Mobility today, vague legal accusations were re-hashed by IP attorney Edward J. Naughton that imply that all Android manufacturers are at risk of losing their rights to distribute Android because of they did not comply with the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). But the head of the Software Freedom Conservancy states there are still, despite the arm waving, no legitimate claims made on Android GPL violation. Actually, Naughton doesn't just imply problems for Android vendors, he just comes right out and says it: Android manufacturers have already lost their licenses to distribute GPLed code inside Android. "Not long ago, open source advocates sued more than a dozen major consumer electronics manufacturers, claiming that the manufacturers had lost the right to use GPL'd software in their devices. It looks like the same could be said of Android: virtually every one is unlicensed," Naughton wrote in his blog.

One of Naughton's biggest cheerleaders, FOSSPatent author Florian Mueller, is also explicit in his own amplification of Naughton's theories:


Nothing to see here then. Microsoft is still briefing its gang which includes lobbyists like Microsoft Florian, who occasionally communicates with Naughton as well. it's just a coordinated attack on Android. You can only cry "Wolf!" twice. Why is anyone paying attention to those people rather than cover the real news, which is about Android gaining a patent shield against Apple's and Microsoft's patent cartel?

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