Wow. FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller, the go-to blogger for analysis of the mobile patent wars, says that Google has given Motorola Mobility, which it’s in the process of acquiring, permission to seek an injunction preventing Apple from selling the iPhone 4S and iCloud. Steve Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson he was willing to go “thermonuclear” on Android; the longer these lawsuits last and the nastier they get, the more the whole thing does start to feel like warfare.
Tag Archives | Patents
Microsoft has struck a deal with Quanta, the giant contract manufacturer, to license its patents which may be violated by Google’s Android and Chrome OS. (I knew that Microsoft had been doing these pacts for Android, but wasn’t aware that it thinks that Chrome OS also rips off its intellectual property.)
Jay Green of Cnet reports:
As Android has grown and surpassed Microsoft’s mobile-phone operating systems in the marketplace, the company has targeted handset and tablet makers that use the Google operating system. It’s racked up a laundry list of licensees in a little more than a year, starting with longtime partner HTC. Just last month, Microsoft reached an Android licensing agreement with Acer.
I’m not criticizing Microsoft for its dealmaking. For one thing, I’m not a patent lawyer, so I don’t have a stance on the legitimacy of its claims against Google’s products. For another, aggressive licensing is probably less depressing than what the rest of the industry is doing: Attempting to sue everybody else’s pants off. But considering the company’s lack of success with Windows Phone so far, the possibility exists that it’ll slowly devolve from a product company into a patent-licensing one–and that would be sad.
Patently Apple is one of my favorite sites to watch for news on Cupertino’s latest and greatest, and its latest post is no obsession. The site has dug up patents that indicate the company has worked on the idea of integrating pico projectors into iOS devices, as well as developing some type of projector accessory for Mac devices.
What’s a pico projector? The devices have become popular as a low-cost way to project an image anywhere. I’m seeing more and more of them at tech shows lately, although typically as a standalone device and not integrated like we’re seeing here.
There’s definitely a cool factor: as well as offering the projection capabilities you’d expect, Apple’s patent involves making the projected images gesture enabled. Say you have two iOS projecting devices side by side, for example. You could transfer the projected content from one device to the next by swiping. Pretty cool, eh?
Over at This is My Next, Nilay Patel’ latest piece on patents makes the case that much of the current fury over patents on software is misplaced. It’s a long, good read.
Yesterday, Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond blogged about the patents arms race that has major tech companies building gigantic portfolios of pricey patents, then using them to launch lawsuits or extract licensing fees (or, sometimes, to defend themselves against other companies launching lawsuits or extracting licensing fees). He called his post “When patents attack Android,” and accused Google competitors such as Apple and Microsoft of conspiring to buy patents and use them to damage Android in the marketplace.
And then something unexpected happened: Microsoft released an e-mail from a Google executive which seemed to prove that Microsoft had invited Google to join it in bidding on some of the patents in question. Google declined to participate. Some conspiracy!
Drummond’s post has accomplished something which you might have thought was impossible: it’s leading to blogosphere coverage which largely sides with the patent aggressors. And while I agree with at least part of the gist of the post–patents on questionable “inventions” are stifling innovation rather than aiding it–the post doesn’t make a convincing case that Google is being persecuted.
The public radio program This American Life did an excellent, depressing story on patent trolls–ranging from Nathan Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures to tiny, shadowy outfits–and their ugly business that’s enabled by a broken patent system. Here’s a transcript.
Last week, a company named Lodsys sent letters to a bunch of iOS developers saying their use of iOS features were violating its patents, and demanding royalty payments. Now Apple has sent a letter to Lodsys saying that the license Apple holds to the patents in question covers third-party developers as well. The story doesn’t end here–the companies which Lodsys is threatening still have to choose between coughing up money and facing protracted, expensive legal trouble-but Apple’s intervention is an encouraging development. I’d like to see Lodsys’s bid to collect royalties from users of Apple’s APIs fail decisively, if only so that other patent trolls don’t have an incentive to pull similar tricks on small developers.
So Apple is suing Samsung, accusing it of imitating Apple products with its Galaxy phones and tablets. The most startling thing about the news may be that the two companies weren’t already in court with each other. Over the past few years, the mobile industry has been so rife with suits and countersuits that if every complainant managed to sue every subject of its ire out of business…well, there’d hardly be a mobile industry left.
I had trouble remembering the precise details of the umpteen cases that have made headlines–as well as some related relationships, such as Microsoft’s licensing agreements with Amazon and HTC–so I decided to document them with a handy-dandy infographic, as much for my own edification as anyone else’s.
More news in the never-ending saga of technology companies suing each other over patents: Microsoft is suing Barnes & Noble and its manfuacturing partners Foxconn and Inventec, saying that the bookseller’s Android-based Nook and Nookcolor e-readers violate Microsoft software patents dating back to the 1990s. The move isn’t a shocker given that Microsoft had already sued Motorola over Android phones and struck licensing agreements with HTC (for Android phones) and Amazon.com (for the not-based-on-Android Kindle e-reader).
The license fee that Microsoft says it expects makers of Android devices to pay it would make it the only company to collect a royalty on every Android-based gadget sold. (Google gives away the software.)