Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 19th Sep 2012 21:40 UTC
Legal "The International Trade Commission voted yesterday to investigate Apple for patent infringement allegations launched by the Google-owned Motorola Mobility. As expected, Motorola is asking for import bans on just about every iOS device, including iPhones, iPods, and iPads. What might be surprising is that Motorola is also asking for a ban on every type of Mac OS X computer, claiming Apple's iMessage technology infringes a Motorola patent." Let's hope all those products get banned. And that all Motorola phones get banned. Let's hope everything gets banned from the US. And yes, I changed Motorola into Google for the headline.
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RE: Bravo!
by atsureki on Thu 20th Sep 2012 11:22 UTC in reply to "Bravo!"
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It was never Google's way of doing things to use software patents for agression. Even for defense, they did not file thousands of patents for every fart from any of their engineers.

Google hasn't patented anything historically because their valuable innovations are trade secrets. They don't want their crawling, ranking, tracking, and AdSense algorithms to be public domain after 20 years, or to risk competitive implementations in the meantime in foreign markets that don't respect patents. As long as they can prevent leaks, they can keep their core business proprietary indefinitely.

Google's money comes from selling web traffic to advertisers, which they can do more effectively the more they give away for free. A couple gigs of e-mail storage means a lot of data for them to mine and advertise against. It's convenient for them to espouse a pro-freedom stance because it's in their interests for all content to be searchable (readily available in open formats): scanning and digitizing old books, for instance. It also wins them a lot of sympathy from users: they're giving out a lot of content and services gratis (free beer). If copyrights and patents disappeared entirely, Google's business would be healthier than ever.

So don't mistake their free swag for charity or their former anti-IP stance for morality. It's all just the convenient choice of trade secret over legal protection:

Apple DOES patent every fart in Cupertino, even those that smell just like long-lingering ones from who-knows-who, a thousand years ago. And then it uses the legal system predatorily to incinerate the competition.

Google was forced by Apple and Microsoft into this battle, and they had to spend many millions of dollars in ammo, buying Motorola and other sources of patents here and there, well after Android was in the market and well after the world was seeded by their own servers and networks, for which they have developed considerably sophisticated software and hardware, from which no known patent battles have emerged.

Again, there aren't any lawsuits because the secrets haven't leaked.

They felt safe making bold moral statements like "don't be evil" because they didn't foresee a time when they'd have to be, i.e. when they'd be making and distributing I.P.

As soon as they actually made and sold something, they'd be just as litigious as everyone else when it gets copied: they're using their control of the OHA to prevent hardware partners from implementing unauthorized versions of supposedly free software, and now that they've bought a company that makes and sells products, they've gone on the offensive with Motorola's old patents.

Their only user-facing (or as OSNews calls it, "obvious") innovation is minimal, text-based Web design and advertising, which I don't think was ever patentable, but I welcome evidence to the contrary. It's worth noting that Apple has gone the complete opposite direction with their vision of advertising: iAd is all about maximizing advertising content without pulling the user away into a new browser window. It's as un-Google-like as it gets.*

Meanwhile, almost everything Apple innovates is user-facing and completely visible (again in OSNews parlance, "obvious"). All of their value is in the user experience, which is much easier to copy than secret algorithms or metallurgical methods, and it's also much easier to copy than it is to create from scratch. Hence Apple's obsession with patent protection.

It's a half-truth at best to say Apple is the aggressor here. Google bought Android because they saw the trend of data flowing through cell phones instead of traditional PCs. So far so good -- they needed to be a part of that emerging market. But when it came time to produce a product, they cheated. They scrambled to copy from more established players. Originally it was going to be Blackberry, because that's what a data-heavy device looked like when Google started making prototypes, but they changed course at the first sight of iPhone.

My point is to stop painting Google as an innocent philanthropist who was minding its own business when big bully Apple came along and stole all its toys. If Google had done something original in Android instead of copying Java and iOS, these lawsuits wouldn't be happening, just as they're not happening to WebOS or WP7 -- and Google is still coming out ahead despite the law's attempts to stop this sort of thing.

* Does iAd still exist? In any case, I mention it because when it was announced, the parallel was drawn in the tech press between Google getting into phones and Apple getting into advertising. Of course that comparison is ludicrous in terms of both scale and method. Apple isn't trying to roll out a Web-wide advertising business, nor did they copy Google's style in doing so.

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