"I feel for Google - Steve Jobs threatened to sue me, too." That's the telling start of Schwartz' blog post. He recalls how after Sun unveiled its Project Looking Glass 3D interface, Apple threatened to sue Sun. "Steve called my office to let me know the graphical effects were "stepping all over Apple's IP"," Schwartz recounts, "If we moved forward to commercialize it, "I'll just sue you"."
Schwartz' retort to Steve Jobs' threat was clear and concise.
Schwartz says they never heard anything from Steve again on this topic. Sun eventually abandoned Project Looking Glass, but he claims that had nothing to do with the legal threats; enterprise customers simply weren't waiting for a new desktop.
Microsoft tried to do something similar to Sun. Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer came to meet with Scott McNealy (Sun's then CEO); Greg Papadopoulos (Sun's CTO) and Schwartz were present as well. The meeting was about Sun's OpenOffice, and how OpenOffice infringed upon patents owned by Microsoft. Gates was clear. "Microsoft owns the office productivity market, and our patents read all over OpenOffice," Gates said, "We're happy to get you under license." Something clearly incompatible with the idea of Free and open source.
Schwartz more or less anticipated Gates' words, and retorted Gates in the same way he retorted Jobs. "We've looked at .NET, and you're trampling all over a huge number of Java patents," Schwartz told Gates, "So what will you pay us for every copy of Windows?" Schwartz states the meeting didn't last long.
According to Schwartz, using patents offensively is a clear sign of desperation, and such threats or even lawsuits generally have the opposite effect: they fuel the growth of the product or company getting sued. "Having watched this movie play out many times, suing a competitor typically makes them more relevant, not less," Schwartz explains, "Developers I know aren't getting less interested in Google's Android platform, they're getting more interested - Apple's actions are enhancing that interest."
As soon as Google puts its money where its mouth is, i.e., they sue Apple, the interest in Android will only grow even further.