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Google Businesses Patents The Courts Technology

Skyhook Wireless Sues Google Over Anti-Competitive Practices 228

Posted by Soulskill
from the location-location-location dept.
dwightk writes "According to a lawsuit brought by Skyhook Wireless, Google allegedly forced Motorola, among other Android handset makers, to use Google's own location services instead of alternatives like Skyhook's. Quoting the lawsuit: 'In complete disregard of its common-law and statutory obligations, and in direct opposition to its public messaging encouraging open innovation, Google wielded its control over the Android operating system ... to force device manufacturers to use its technology rather than that of Skyhook, to terminate contractual obligations with Skyhook, and to otherwise force device manufacturers to sacrifice superior end user experience with Skyhook by threatening directly or indirectly to deny timely and equal access to evolving versions of the Android operating system and other Google mobile applications.'" John Gruber points out another interesting excerpt from the complaint regarding Google's procedure for determining Android compliance, which includes what Skyhook calls an "amorphous outline of additional, non-standardized requirements" that "effectively gives Google the ability to arbitrarily deem any software, feature or function 'non-compatible.'"
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Skyhook Wireless Sues Google Over Anti-Competitive Practices

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  • FUD (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 17, 2010 @09:42AM (#33610300)

    1) This requirement only applies to Android that is bundled with Google's proprietary apps/services. If you take Android without Google's integration and market... you can use what you want.

    2) There are many alternative markets out there.

    3) You can use alternate location services in apps from the market...

    4) Google tried to work with Skyhook requesting examples of their location data.... Skyhook refused... so since Google couldn't guarantee it would work with their services... etc

  • by AHuxley (892839) on Friday September 17, 2010 @10:00AM (#33610474) Homepage Journal
    http://www.skyhookwireless.com/whoweare/management.php [skyhookwireless.com]
    "... and Allen & Company." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Tenet [wikipedia.org]
    "... February 2008 to become the managing director of the secretive investment bank Allen & Company."
    NSA/Google http://www.pcworld.com/article/188581/the_googlensa_alliance_questions_and_answers.html [pcworld.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 17, 2010 @10:08AM (#33610576)

    Whereas Apple, who dropped Skyhook too, had also replaced the functionality with their own implementation isn't doing the same thing?

    All we have here is a company getting pissy their limited business model has been replaced on two very popular platforms. Tough titties. If they want, they can release their own applications that use their implementation, and then compete in the market. Too easy though, they know their toast is done. They're looking for a payout from the big boys before shutting up shop.

  • by papa_lizard (1690036) on Friday September 17, 2010 @11:19AM (#33611372)
    If you had read the actual jury demand (oh wait, this is Slashdot, nevermind), you would've realized it's not just about Android being sold as "Open". The main things that will probably get Google fried are:
    1. 1. Skyhook had a contract with Motorola to include Skyhook's technology in their handsets. When Google found out, they forced Motorola to breach their contract and replace Skyhook's technology with Google's.
    2. 2. Skyhook had a contract with a company (called "Company X" in the demand) to include Skyhook's technology in their handsets. These handsets, with Skyhook's technology integrated, passed the Android certification tests put forth by Google. Then Google discovered that the handsets weren't using Google's location services, and forced Company X to remove the Skyhook tech or face losing the "Android" certification. (Again, forcing another breach of contract)

    As a result of Google forcing Skyhook's partners to breach their contracts, Skyhook lost millions of dollars of licensing revenue and is seeking reparation.

  • Re:Fanboys (Score:4, Informative)

    by Space cowboy (13680) on Friday September 17, 2010 @11:33AM (#33611522) Journal
    SkyHook had a contract to supply Motorola (worth tens of millions of dollars - lifeblood to a company of that size) and when Andy Rubin (a Google VP) heard about it, he phoned up Motorola. "Conversation" ensued, involving the use of a "stop ship" order to prevent Android from shipping on that Motorola hardware. When the dust settled, Motorola was using Google's location services, not Skyhook's.

    This has nothing to do with Google integrating anything, and it's totally evil. Quote from Google-IO: "If you believe in openness, if you believe in choice, if you believe in innovation from everyone, then welcome to Android" - Vic Gundotra, another Google VP. I don't think so Vic. You and Andy ought to talk...

    Simon.
  • Re:Fanboys (Score:4, Informative)

    by Space cowboy (13680) on Friday September 17, 2010 @12:17PM (#33611988) Journal
    Source: e-week [eweek.com]

    Simon
  • Re:Pretty simple (Score:4, Informative)

    by canajin56 (660655) on Friday September 17, 2010 @12:49PM (#33612334)
    To add further clarification, Skyhook is suing not, as they claim, because Google said you can't use Skyhook. This is false, as Samsung phones come with serveral Skyhook-based apps installed by default, at least on Bell. No, if you read the complaint, Skyhook had a contract with Motorola that said you have to disable Google Location Services as part of the API. Google is correct that disabling the API would mean some apps in the store would not work. They have made the choice that if an Android device cannot run apps from the store even if it's on the correct version of AndroidOS, then it's not allowed on the store. Motorola was not told that they can't use Skyhook, they were told that they can't use it exclusively. Though since Google Location Service was off by default on my phone, I'm inclined to believe that Skyhook is lying when they say Google demanded that GLS be on by default, and impossible to turn off. As far as I know, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a Droid phone that uses Skyhook by default, so long as the user has the option of turning GLS on as well. You're probably even allowed to make it so Skyhook is always on and can't be disabled. But, you can't disable part of the Android API and expect to be compliant.
  • by canajin56 (660655) on Friday September 17, 2010 @12:51PM (#33612384)
    That's not what happened, though. It's not that Skyhook is incompatible. Skyhook software is allowed. My Droid came with Skyhook software on it, and on the first page with Google Maps bumped to page 2 of the app list. The issue is that Skyhook tried to force Motorola to make Skyhook always on, and make it so the user cannot use Google Location Service, or any software that relies on Google Location Service, such as Google Maps. Google said "no, you can use Skyhook as the default but you are not allowed to disable parts of the AndroidOS API" and Skyhook is crying. The Motorola AndroidOS implementation is what was decided "non-compatible", because they disabled part of the API. It's not Skyhook that's not compatible.
  • by DrYak (748999) on Friday September 17, 2010 @05:57PM (#33615750) Homepage

    what the fuck ?!?

    Android is open-source, freely available, freely downloadable, freely compilable. Google has no control on it, as proven by the countless chinese clone-maker shipping iClones running un licenced. Or Koolu having ported android on the openmoko's freerunner.

    the only thing the google licence is the closed source proprietary part : the "google experience" - the collection of google apps ported to the android system. See how Cyanogenmods is able to create ports of newer versions of the OS (because android is free/libre) but reqire the users to make a backup of their google apps, because they don't have a licence to provide them.

    motorola wasn't forced to drop skyhook for the mere reason they wanted android. If they really wanted both android and skyhook badly, they could have used the open-source android and bundled their choice of aps.

    the problem stems from the fact that motorola wanted the google applicstion pack too. And its licencing terms

    to compare with microsoft: it would be as if microsoft either licenced a paid windows to oems, which contains IE, MS Office, Visual Studio. (and requires no other alternative). Or gave away free copies of windows only, including the source, and let the oem combine their choice of software (firefox, thunderbird, openoffice.org, eclipse, etc.)

    the licence requirement are dubious, but none the less, the phhone makers are free to use a different suite of apps (as done on FreeRunner and chinese iClones)

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