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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Bravo!
by Lobotomik on Thu 20th Sep 2012 05:56 UTC
Lobotomik
Member since:
2006-01-03

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.

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.

I don't think this is a particular patent war that Google intends to win: it looks to me like they intend to poison the well and stop this nonsense altogether. If the judges do indeed ban import of any iDevice into the US of A, many people will roar bloody murder, and Apple must take note.

Apple are so cynical, though, and the belief they invented everything themselves is so inground in their corporate culture, they will present this as a strike by carpetbaggers against their creativity, unlike the aggressions from their side, which are oh, so legitimate. But it is time they accept that they are carpetbaggers themselves, that 99.9% of what they do is based on ideas learned and copied from elsewhere, with 0.1% of a (very nice) sauce poured on. This 0.1% might be exquisite enough to have the world beating at their doors to buy their products, but it must not give them the right to block others from making their own sauce, even if they take inspiration from Apple's ideas. After all, the others are also pumping out ideas that Apple is snorting greedily when nobody looks.

I hope Google prevails, and then Samsung with their appeal, and Apple loses face and is shown to be the serial imitator/improver every other company is, and the whole legal patent system implodes pushed by its considerable negative energy.

Reply Score: 8

RE: Bravo!
by darknexus on Thu 20th Sep 2012 06:47 in reply to "Bravo!"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

I don't think this is a particular patent war that Google intends to win: it looks to me like they intend to poison the well and stop this nonsense altogether.


One can hope, but the more cynical side of me says that's probably not the case. Even if it were, tactics of poisoning the well often have a nasty habit of coming back to poison the poisoners along with the rest. I do hope the entire system implodes but, should that happen, we need to be ready to make sure that whatever replaces it isn't even worse. A vacuum is filled quite quickly when power is broken, and often that which steps in ends up making what came before look like a land of fairies and unicorns by comparison.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Bravo!
by JAlexoid on Thu 20th Sep 2012 10:25 in reply to "Bravo!"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

This is a spiralling escalation. Neither Apple, nor Google, nor ex-Motorola are innocent here.

Apple has a stupidest stance there , though. Claiming that bounceback is the "unique" feature of iOS, while Windows Phone happily has that as well...

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Bravo!
by StephenBeDoper on Fri 21st Sep 2012 00:13 in reply to "RE: Bravo!"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

This is a spiralling escalation. Neither Apple, nor Google, nor ex-Motorola are innocent here.


Agreed. I'm not an "all commerce is evil" type, but it does seem that there's some threshold that companies inevitably reach once they get big enough or successful enough, where the legal and/or marketing departments assume control. Some would probably say that threshold is called an "IPO" - though I could name more than a few privately-operated companies that behave exactly the same way.

Apple has a stupidest stance there , though. Claiming that bounceback is the "unique" feature of iOS, while Windows Phone happily has that as well...


Hear, hear. If there were one change to patent law that I'd most like to see, it would be an end to selective/strategic enforcement of IP. Trademark owners can't pull that kind of BS, so why are patent owners allowed to? I'd say make it work just like trademark law, especially the "enforce it or lose it" aspects... especially now that the distinction is being blurred with things like "trade dress" patents.

Not that I have any real expectation that will happen. I think the sad fact of the matter is: the only people/organizations with the power to change patent law are exactly the same people who benefit from the current laws. And as long as that fact holds true, then I have no expectation that we'll see any significant changes (well, except changes for the worse).

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Bravo!
by atsureki on Thu 20th Sep 2012 11:22 in reply to "Bravo!"
atsureki Member since:
2006-03-12

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: http://www.paulgraham.com/softwarepatents.html

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.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE[2]: Bravo!
by jared_wilkes on Thu 20th Sep 2012 13:19 in reply to "RE: Bravo!"
jared_wilkes Member since:
2011-04-25

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.


Google has patented Google Doodles and how they appear on the page.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Bravo!
by flypig on Thu 20th Sep 2012 15:20 in reply to "RE: Bravo!"
flypig Member since:
2005-07-13

I don't necessarily want to disagree with all of your points or your overall analysis, since I've no doubt Apple and Google have very different approaches and motivations.

However, I'd disagree with your claim that Google hasn't patented anything. Google has been clear on the importance of IP from the outset and the fact the PageRank algorithm* was patented back in 1998 is arguably what allowed them to build such a dominance in search.

http://www.google.com/patents/US6285999

Also, when Google introduced the phrase "Don't be evil" I suspect they weren't thinking about patents. Although I'm sure their intentions when introducing it were honourable, you credit them with too much prescience!

* PageRank is a Google trademark.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Bravo!
by StephenBeDoper on Fri 21st Sep 2012 01:45 in reply to "RE: Bravo!"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

Very interesting comment, and clearly one that had a lot of thought put into it. And I agree with just about everything in it, up until this point:

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.


Strip that paragraph of all the emotionally-loaded phrasing & implied value judgements, and you basically have a textbook description of how any responsibly-run business would act when entering a new market.

If if a supermarket chain creates their own version of a preexisting "brand" product, do you consider that to be a cheat? It's generally not seen that way - and whatever else one can say about Android, it's clearly more than just a store brand knock-off of iOS.

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.


WP7, maybe. But webOS? Speaking as someone who owns a Pre 2, an iPod touch, and a few and Android device, webOS is a HELL of a lot more iOS-like than any implementation of Android I've ever encountered. Not that I think that's a bad thing - the developers of webOS obviously looked at iOS for inspiration, AND (more importantly) looked for ways they could improve on it. That is, I'd argue, exactly the same way that most innovation occurs - by taking something that already exists & improving on it. That's also same approach that Apple themselves used when entering the smartphone market.

If anything, one of my pet peeves about Android is that the primary goal of many design decisions seems to have been "do it differently than iOS" (instead of "do it in whatever way works best"). So I do find it odd to see Android constantly painted at some kind of exact 1:1 clone of iOS.

Reply Parent Score: 3