This I didn’t expect. While we’ve had individual people high up Google’s chain of command speak out, there wasn’t yet any form of official response to the patent shenanigans surrounding Android. For the first time, the company has posted on the official Google Blog about the issue, and the company is clear. Several companies, including Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle, are working together to attack Android through patents. Google is not going to sit back and take it, though. Update: Stuff just got real. Popcorn! Or better yet, coffee!
I wasn’t actually supposed to write for OSNews for a few days due to an insane workload for finishing up my masters’ thesis (no more school ever again ever and ever!), but you didn’t really think I’d let this opportunity pass me by, right? I’m a little ahead of my schedule anyway, so here it goes.
The post is written by David Drummond, senior vice president and chief legal officer at Google. He notes pretty much the same things many of us have been saying: Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle are working together to litigate against Android instead of competing with it.
“But Android’s success has yielded something else: a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents,” Drummond writes, “They’re doing this by banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the CPTN group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the Rockstar group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them; seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Mobile; and even suing Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung.”
“Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it,” Drummond continues, “A smartphone might involve as many as 250000 (largely questionable) patent claims, and our competitors want to impose a tax for these dubious patents that makes Android devices more expensive for consumers. They want to make it harder for manufacturers to sell Android devices. Instead of competing by building new features or devices, they are fighting through litigation.”
This is about as harsh as Google has ever been about this issue, and is almost a verbatim copy of everything I (and others on OSNews) have been saying. Which, coincidentally, makes me feel a little dirty. I hate it when I agree with a large company – since that usually happens right before I magically spend another â‚¬500, but alas.
Google has been quite passive about the various anti-Android lawsuits, and this left many of us wondering: is Google just letting device makers take the hit? Well, as it turns out, it appears Google is working behind the scenes to subvert this coordinated Android attack. Drummond refers to the various antitrust investigations concerning these patent cartels – I’m sure Google had its lobbyists nudge and wink at the US DoJ. Google is also working on strengthening its own patent portfolio.
“Unless we act, consumers could face rising costs for Android devices – and fewer choices for their next phone,” Drummond concludes.
Of course, Google is by no means a saint (can we still count the various search/advertisement-related antitrust investigations on one hand?), but when it comes to patents, Google is clearly on the receiving end of a whole lot of dirty and shady back room cartel-esque deals. It’s sad Google now has to patent up as well, but did any of you seriously expect Google had the clout in US Congress to change the patent system?