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Android Google Patents The Courts Your Rights Online

37 Android Patent Lawsuits 154

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the something-to-think-about dept.
An anonymous reader writes "37 lawsuits have been filed against Android in a little more than a year, the latest one of them being Microsoft's lawsuit against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec. ReadWriteWeb says 'the number of patent lawsuits related to the Android operating system is unprecedented' and shows an infographic that is also available on Twitpic and as a PDF file, on Scribd. The first two suits were filed in March 2010 by Apple and MobileMedia against HTC. The original source of the chart, the FOSS Patents blog, says that Android's market share is only one factor, other reasons being that Google's patent portfolio is 'far too weak for what's undertaken in connection with Android'; that Google doesn't do 'inbound licensing' from trolls; and that Google tends to ignore patent issues because Google itself is rarely sued: in most of these cases, Android device makers are under attack."
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37 Android Patent Lawsuits

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  • 37 in one year? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyberfin (1454265) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @01:12PM (#35588814)
    Google must be something right. In the sense that they're allowing manufacturers come up with ways of using technology that pisses off big patent holders. Whether they're wrong or right I think is irrelevant, just the fact that they're pissed off.
  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @01:14PM (#35588838)
    Where's the 'Astroturff' mod tag where we need one? I know it's in the list of requested mod options right below 'Asshat' and right above 'Bastard!'.
  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @01:16PM (#35588880)
    Or they're trying to litigate themselves a piece of a very lucrative pie.
  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @01:23PM (#35589010) Homepage Journal

    Beg the question much? Are we really saying "they are infringing, now let's see how much it costs them"?

    Android is a collection of almost entirely free software, born out of the best ideas that could be packed into a phone. It is disgusting to think that Apple has a claim for a patent on "touching a screen with more than one finger" or that Microsoft is the only one that is ever allowed to use "a specifically designated key that initiates a search function". These ideas are so blatantly obvious, and yet the IP system in the US is rolling over to credit anyone who patented any ridiculous thing, and award them huge settlements.

    I dont know whether to be disgusted because this is basically only useful as a make-work project for lawyers and courts, or because it means that real innovation will need to happen outside the borders of the US if it's going to happen at all.

  • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alvinrod (889928) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @01:25PM (#35589024)
    Actually, there's a good deal of profit to be made. HTC already settled a suit with Microsoft and is now paying Microsoft royalties [linuxfordevices.com] for the Android devices they sell. Some of the companies that file them don't care if Android continues to be wildly successful because they'll still make money. If Oracle is successful in their suit, it's possible that Google or the handset manufacturers will owe some amount of money for every Android device sold. At that point it's in Oracle's interest to make sure Android keeps doing well because they make money off of it.
  • Re:Yet more FUD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thestudio_bob (894258) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @01:33PM (#35589122)

    Why does slashdot keep posting [INSERT-PERSON-AGAINST-COMPANY-X] inane anti-[INSERT-COMPANY-X-PRODUCT] ramblings? Surely if there is such a looming threat, someone besides a repeatedly discredited hack has to be writing about it.

    All fans of company X and their products, please copy and store for future use. You're welcome.

  • Re:Yet more FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @01:36PM (#35589184) Homepage Journal

    Well, the summary at least brings up an interesting and important point. We all know that Google is a major innovator, but for a such a technology driven company they have relatively few patents. It may be that it simply doesn't take the throw the crap against the wall and see sticks approach to patenting. That's a good thing for society, but maybe not so good for Google.

    Just because you ignore abusive patent practices doesn't mean those practices ignore *you*. One of the reasons companies amass huge patent portfolios is as defensive armor. You threaten to tie me up with BS lawsuits and I'll return the favor.

    Think about that. Under the system of software patents we have now, you have to abuse the system to protect yourself from abuse of the system.

  • Re:37 in one year? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @01:39PM (#35589212) Homepage Journal

    I wish I had mod points. The poster is right on point.

    One way to get rid of this ridiculous patent situation tech is in right now is for big, not-so-evil companies to innovate and let some of these suits happen. When these get to trial I think a lot of these patent holders are going to look ridiculous to judges. We need judicial review of the entire system by a good, non-corrupt judge. Too bad the non-corrupt judges are hard to find.

  • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @01:44PM (#35589282)

    First, this is great news for Microsoft and Meego. When manufacturers will start to get really sued for all the patent issues Google ignores, they will look at other possibilities. HTC has always been both Android and Windows Phone 7 supporter, so they will drop Android and just make Windows Phone 7 devices.

    Way to make the inferior product de-facto. Same old Microsoft, this is why we wanted them destroyed, remember?

  • Re:Yet more FUD (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @01:55PM (#35589470) Homepage Journal
    One has to wonder if there are some shenanigans going on. Android is spoken of in glowing hyperbolic terms, often asserting that the development team were superheroes, but they did not appear to actually have a product, and were quite quick to sell out to Google, indicating that they might have had known that the Android tech was not something they could get onto the market themselves. Certainly the Danger tech had little success, and has become part of MS.

    For Google to get android out so quickly it had to copy the iPhone and other existing model instead of innovating. The one innovation on the smartphone, the open model to the end user, and the keyboard, are not roaring successes. The end user does not have right to keep Apps on the Android if Google wants to delete them, mobile phone vendors are locking the phone, and many models do not have the keyboard. Multitouch with is an non-obvious innovation was lifted from Apple instead of created independently.

    This is not to say that the lawsuits are good or bad, just that HTC had a relationship with MS that could have lead to some IP contamination, and Apple clearly has some traction in assertion that it invented a device with others are using without permissions. In this case, neither Apple or MS are patent trolls since they both have unique products that they market. OTOH, the android devices are neither unique or innovative.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @02:22PM (#35589812)

    Way to make the inferior product de-facto. Same old Microsoft, this is why we wanted them destroyed, remember?

    This IS Microsoft posting. They do this every single time an anti-Android news article comes up. Within the same minute of the news article, they've already got a "glory to the almighty Microsoft" comment ready to go, top of the page. Hell, they're faster than even the first post trolls, and they're expecting us to not notice this somehow.

    Put simply, Microsoft is scared shitless that A) they missed out on the mobile market, B) their attempts to buy into it are failing badly, and C) they can't buy out the current smartphone market leaders (Apple, Google, RIM). They're confused and desperate, thus they've got their clumsy astroturfing FUD squad out in full force, because that's all they know how to do. They're just as divorced from the real world as the rest of Microsoft's engineers, marketeers, and managementeers are, only they're trying to directly interact with people.

  • Re:Yet more FUD (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @02:28PM (#35589886) Journal

    Because even a broken clock is right twice a day? We have seen from the lawsuits over their book scanning that Google DOES play fast and loose with the rules, then add in the fact that Google refuses to indemnify their OEMs that use Android or WebM and the fact that while Google makes the money on the searches they take NONE of the risks that the OEMs are facing spells BAD NEWS in my book.

    Well Google be able to pull it off? Who knows, balls and a lot of money have gotten many people very far in the past. But one has to ask how long the usually VERY risk averse OEMs are gonna be willing to have their asses just hanging in the breeze ready to be hit by patent trolls while Google rakes in the cash while not stepping in to their corner to share the burden.

    Sorry but I believe the first poster was right, this will be good for MSFT, Meego and H.264 and bad with a capital b for Android. You can go WinPhone and be indemnified by MSFT or Meego and be covered by Intel. MPEG-LA doesn't indemnify but with their patent portfolio anybody that makes anything to do with video or audio would be suicidal to step in the ring with them. Go Android and you better have some good lawyers on retainer. Now if you are a risk averse OEM, which would you choose? Free as in beer isn't so free if I have to pay lawyers to constantly fight lawsuits now is it?

  • Re:Yet more FUD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @02:43PM (#35590076)

    Yet, every time Google patents something stupid, Slashdot is full of posts saying "So much for 'Don't be Evil'....", regardless of the fact that Google doesn't abuse it's portfolio and still doesn't have a large enough one to fend of attacks.

If a thing's worth having, it's worth cheating for. -- W.C. Fields

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