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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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  • Scare tactics (Score:5, Informative)

    by nicholas22 (1945330) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:10PM (#35588760)
    These are clearly scare tactics to try to curb the adoption of the platform. But will they succeed? Judging from how these types of things pan out with open source projects the answer is no, because there is little profit to be made. I say it is already too late to try and stop Android now.
    • Re:Scare tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nerdfest (867930) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:16PM (#35588880)
      Or they're trying to litigate themselves a piece of a very lucrative pie.
      • by ackthpt (218170)

        A way around that would be to declare the software is all free. It's just the hardware they are selling.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      These patent suits won't kill Android - the open source project - sure. But it may well stop companies from putting it on their devices (or risk being sued and having to pay up), which could have a very bad impact on Android's momentum. I have no clue how bad thish could get, but I am worried :/

      • Why worry? Bear bating can be fun - for spectators. Especially if the bear gets loose!

        Expect some lawyers to make money, and a few trolls to get molested.

      • by jgagnon (1663075)

        I firmly believe that most companies that have jumped on the Android bandwagon know full well what risks they are taking. The Android bus has a very long route and is picking up more passengers all the time. The real question on my mind is what happens when the bus is full?

        • by nagnamer (1046654)

          And the next stop is in front of the court, no doubt. Oh wait, we've already been there... multiple times.

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

      by alvinrod (889928) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:25PM (#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:Scare tactics (Score:4, Interesting)

      by poetmatt (793785) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:28PM (#35589056) Journal

      They will not even come close to succeeding, and here's the proof:

      how many of these lawsuits found anyone guilty of anything? How many have settled due to a judgment? Answer: zero.
      The only settlement to date, was a private one with samsung where samsung buckled to MS and did not go to court at all.

      Other than that, none of settled, and none have found conclusively on anything. That should tell you how well android is doing, that all we have is misinformation to "Scare people away".

      It's way too late to stop android, beyond of which that even if android is found "guilty", what are you going to do? Stop distribution? Ms aims to stop at the manufacturer level, but if they really wanted they could ship devices with nothing but firmware to let people flash the roms themselves. It's quite impossible to prevent distribution.

      • by Tetsujin (103070)

        They will not even come close to succeeding, and here's the proof:

        how many of these lawsuits found anyone guilty of anything? How many have settled due to a judgment? Answer: zero.
        The only settlement to date, was a private one with samsung where samsung buckled to MS and did not go to court at all.

        But that's the thing. If Microsoft comes after you with a patent lawsuit, your choices are to either cave to their demands, or fight a costly legal battle (and then, possibly, be forced to cave to their demands.)

        It doesn't matter if you're right or wrong, only whether you have the money to stand up to a very powerful rival company.

        • by poetmatt (793785)

          This is not true, and it has never been true.

          Companies such as barnes and nobles are HUGE companies who do not buckle to the likes of Microsoft.

          If they went after you or I? We'd be fucked without EFF support. However, the companies they're suing over android are in no way small fry.

          • by sessamoid (165542)

            This is not true, and it has never been true.

            Companies such as barnes and nobles are HUGE companies who do not buckle to the likes of Microsoft.

            If they went after you or I? We'd be fucked without EFF support. However, the companies they're suing over android are in no way small fry.

            What? Barnes and Noble is "HUGE"? Since when? Barnes and Noble has a market capitalization of slightly over half a billion dollars. Microsoft makes that much in PROFIT in a week. MSFT could buy BKS out of petty cash and never even notice the purchase. I'd guess that Microsoft pays nearly as much in lawyers salaries and legal expenses per year as Barnes and Noble is worth as a whole company.

            • by node 3 (115640)

              After a certain point (which Barnes and Noble is clearly large enough to afford), I don't see how this helps much. It's not like you can do much more with 500 lawyers than you can with 100. What are the extra lawyers going to do? Tag-team every 5 minutes so they don't wear themselves out?

              Research and expertise and focus do benefit from small initial increases in the number of lawyers. So the OPs point stands. For you or me, we probably can't even afford one lawyer to defend us for a full trial of this sort.

      • by node 3 (115640)

        Ms aims to stop at the manufacturer level, but if they really wanted they could ship devices with nothing but firmware to let people flash the roms themselves. It's quite impossible to prevent distribution.

        If that were the way Android was distributed, it would certainly prevent distribution to well over 99.9+% of its current market.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      Oh man, how did I miss this? From the article:

      Mueller writes that for Google it could be a spell for trouble

      Yes, that Florian. Why do people even bother printing articles from the man?

    • by Skal Tura (595728)

      Indeed scare tactics, but this also shows two things:
      A) Android is considered a threat
      B) Patent system is flawed and stiffles innovation

  • Is there an Android app for following and tracking these lawsuits? I'd sure like the process to be just as easy as using an Android phone, because let's face it, these lawsuits wouldn't be pestering Android if they weren't a major force to be reckoned with in the smartphone market.
  • 37 in one year? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cyberfin (1454265) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:12PM (#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.
    • Re:37 in one year? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:39PM (#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.

    • We should coin a law about this: The products competitiveness and usefulness for the consumer in the United States is directly proportional to the number of lawsuits filed against it to keep it off the market.
      • by TheEyes (1686556)

        We should coin a law about this: The products competitiveness and usefulness for the consumer in the United States is directly proportional to the number of lawsuits filed against it to keep it off the market.

        Er, wait, doesn't that mean that i4i's suit against Microsoft makes OOXML a "good" thing?

        I think this "law" needs some refinement.

    • by IBitOBear (410965) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @02:17PM (#35590492) Homepage Journal

      It occurs to me that Google is approaching a perfect moment to strike against software patents utterly. Having very few of their own and having a clearly innovative product that is much in demand, they are in the perfect position to show that software patents are harmful to innovation "even for a large company like us.'

      Were they to now begin, in each of these cases, a concerted affirmative defense that software, when executing on a "general purpose computer" can not possibly be in violation of any patent.

      The argument would have to be two-fold:

      First, one can not make a "specific machine" out of a "general machine" by adding functionality. Just as putting a single copy of Moby Dick on a book shelf (or indeed filling a bookshelf with copies of Mobey Dick) does not divest the bookshelf of its bookshelf-ness and convert it into a "Mobey Dick location structural support machine", putting software on a PC or a phone doesn't reduce the nature of the PC or phone to convert it into a "specific machine".

      Second, the demonstration of excessive burden and harm that can be brought to bear on a individual device, and makers there of, when the "specific machine" theory is applied as is, given that the one "specific machine" is getting sued 37 times for more than one patent per time, because the individual android device(s) are apparently being forced into a quantum superposition [<==turn that into lawyer speech] where they are each individually transformed by software int dozens or hundreds of individual specific machines.

      The very fact that in each law suit the patent needs must read "what is described" is "a machine where" and yet it is sure as rain that the individual pantents don't reference one another in scope. (That is, two patents on say a automobile brake system can be inclusive of one another if one is for say, an actuator and the other is for a caliper, since both will mention the existence of the others collateral components; whereas a "web status update specific machine" would be exclusive of a "local document indexing specific machine").

      The fact that in each case Google can reference the other cases as demonstration of cumulative harm caused by the current misinterpration of the precident would give them perfect grounds to argue before the court(s) that software simply cannot rationally or legally be patent material, particularly under the "promote the useful arts and sciences clause".

      The ultimate goal would be to get a ruling that software running on, or that can run on, a general purpose computer can not, by definition, be in violation of any patent. Barring that, getting software classified the same as 'perpetual motion machines' as a 'we don't do that' clause of all patent law whoudl be just as ideal.

      • by naasking (94116)

        First, one can not make a "specific machine" out of a "general machine" by adding functionality.

        There is already established precedent that says you're wrong on this point. You're better off arguing that software and math are synonymous, and since the latter is unpatentable we have a contradiction: either certain types of math should be patentable subject to criteria X, or software is inherently unpatentable. Either outcome would be acceptable, because it would at least require someone to very specifically

  • Florian (Score:5, Informative)

    by MikeKD (549924) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:15PM (#35588868) Homepage

    More crap from Florian Mueller [google.com]?

    Yes [google.com].

  • Yet more FUD (Score:5, Informative)

    by messagelost (1989296) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:16PM (#35588884)
    Why does slashdot keep posting Florian Muller's inane anti-Andriod ramblings? Surely if there is such a looming threat, someone besides a repeatedly discredited hack has to be writing about it.
    • Because we keep getting trolled into commenting and getting them more ad revenue, that's why.

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

      by thestudio_bob (894258) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:33PM (#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.

      • 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.

        Now that you're done with a sarcastic response, perhaps you'd actually like to respond to the issue. Florian Muller has, in the last week alone, tried to scare up a bogus "serious Linux copyright threat [slashdot.org]" and got roundly slapped down as inane. He clearly no understanding of copyright law, patent law, Linux or Andriod. Why slashdot keeps posting his blog as if he was an expert on these is baffling.

        • by 517714 (762276)
          His status as an expert is not an issue, he is the village idiot, but his status as a catalyst for a lively discussion is hard to deny. We don't come to this forum so we can talk about the weather.
    • Re:Yet more FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:36PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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.

        • by lorenlal (164133)

          This is a very good point actually. Thank you AC.

          It looks to me like Google is hoping someone decides to step up sue them. I'd be willing to bet it'd be a great show... We might finally get that patent reform we've all been asking for.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by fermion (181285)
      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

      • > One has to wonder...

        Actually, no, there is no need to wonder. The only innovation in the iPhone is taking ideas and technology from other people and companies and putting it on a smart phone.

        The multi-touch you seem to think everyone stole from Apple, guess what... Multitouch Overview [billbuxton.com].

        Apple is not even close to being the inventor of multi-touch and it is not even that difficult to discover this fact if one simply does a quick google search before making false assumptions and writing a paragraph based

      • by vegiVamp (518171)

        > it had to copy the iPhone and other existing model instead of innovating

        There are only so many ways to display a button that starts an application. The main "innovation" that Apple brought to the iPhone, was multitouch - and even that had been done before, just not in a commercial application.

        I won't go as far as to say that innovation is overrated, but packaging and marketing existing technologies is not innovating. Apple produces fine products - smooth, clean, and mostly just works - but they're not

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

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @01:28PM (#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?

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        There'll be an Android patent license consortium if that's the case similar to what MPEG-LA does. You can license the patents individually from Apple/Microsoft/etc/etc/etc or just pay one entitiy and get all their licenses in one bundle.

        Google makes the code available. OEMs will be encouraged to buy the consortium licensing, and life will go on as it always has. Price of the patent licenses will be just a cost of using Android and its ecosystem, nothing more. It's a strong enough ecosystem that could suppor

      • You can go WinPhone and be indemnified by MSFT

        Unfortunately that indemnification that you paid for does not cover nobody wanting to buy your product. I am pretty sure the smartphone manufacturers could not care less which OS is running on the phone as long as they sell like crazy.

        When Asus was working on the first netbooks they tried to get Windows XP from Microsoft because they already knew from their research that nobody was going to pay a premium price for a low power laptop running Windows 7. Highly por

  • Aren't there lawsuits against iOS too? Patent lawsuits are just a cost of doing business these days.
  • by rufty_tufty (888596) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:18PM (#35588918) Homepage

    That is a poor and misleading graph for several reasons not least:
    There is no comparison to other software platforms
    The style chosen only escalates, the graph doesn't go down when the court case is resolved in either party's favour.
    Ambiguous because not all court cases are equal, some cases could be more valid than others.

    FUD, IMO

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      Don't forget, Florian had help from a REAL LIVE graphic designer! He probably used all kinds of professional tools, like Adobe Illustrator, to make that graph possible. That counts for something, right? Right?

  • by Dan East (318230) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:20PM (#35588948) Homepage Journal

    Never has an operating system had so many challenges to its intellectual property in such a short time period as the Google operating system has had in the last year.

    That's because an operating system never gained such popularity in such a short time period*. I expect if the number of patent lawsuits were charted against the number of users, we'd see that the ratio for Android would be normal (or less) compared to other operating systems. It's just that typically these things are spread out over several years, which is how long the OS takes to really become popular.

    * Yeah, I just made that up off the top of my head.

  • by ilsaloving (1534307) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:20PM (#35588952)

    I can only guess that all these big companies see android as a big threat. And they're probably right. Android is vacuuming up the mobile and tablet markets, both of which are the biggest growing sectors right now. If the trend continues as it has been, then the current big players are going to find themselves locked out almost entirely unless they do something to stall Android's advance.

    • Android is vacuuming up the mobile and tablet markets...

      I think you know Android is not vaccuming up the tablet market...or is it? Where is the proof?

      • by wierd_w (1375923) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:53PM (#35589430)

        Well...

        Lets browse the tablet internet market for a second...

        For IOS, we have Apple's iPad. Strategy Analytics says that:
        IOS went from 95.5% market share of tablets in Q3 to 75.3% in Q4 2010.

        Then we have "everyone else":
        Android went from 2.3% in Q3 to 21.6% in Q4.
        "all others" went from 2.3 in Q3 to 3.1 in Q4.

        To me, this looks like android is spreading like wildfire in the tablet space. It snatched up more than 20% of market share in ONE QUARTER. While it is doubtful that growth like that is sustainable, even modest growth after a spurt like that could really put the screws to Apple.

        • by powerlord (28156)

          To me, this looks like android is spreading like wildfire in the tablet space. It snatched up more than 20% of market share in ONE QUARTER. While it is doubtful that growth like that is sustainable, even modest growth after a spurt like that could really put the screws to Apple.

          You're kidding right?

          There wasn't really a tablet market of measurable size until the iPad.

          The growth of Android in Q4 is other manufacturers getting into the game and offering alternatives (a good thing for the consumer).

          I'm actually more surprised that Apple has managed to hold onto ~75% of the Tablet market. If Apple can hold onto 60%-70% of the market, then they are doing Just Fine and have nothing to complain about as the market grows and heads toward saturation (at some point in the future).

          • Uhm no they're not doing "Just Fine" just like Microsoft is not doing Just Fine holding a much larger percentage, because the flood gates have opened. Actually it is very surprising how Apple managed to lose so much of its market share, when indeed it pioneered the *adoption* (as opposed to the inception of the table market, which is how fans would have you believe).
          • by brkello (642429)

            At any point, that big of a jump is significant. There isn't really too many Android table options at the moment and one of the main ones hasn't released its wi-fi only version. There was a tablet PC market before Apple. Apple just made it trendy. To cut in to it that much in one quarter is pretty nuts. If you held a business where you pretty much owned the market and some guy came in and took 20% of your customers in 1 quarter and you weren't concerned, you would be one terrible CEO.

            • by 517714 (762276)

              Apple and Android Shipments

              3Q 4.2M 4Q 7.3M iPad

              3Q 0.1M 4Q 2.1M Android

              Apple increased shipments by 3.1 million and Android only 2 million therefore Apple's market is increasing 55% faster than Android's. Android is doomed!./sarcasm Four data points is not enough to draw much of a conclusion. These are shipments, not sales to end customers, and Apple probably sold only 6M using that measure, and Android under a million. Android is doing very well, it may be able to get 40% share this year.

              You

        • by wrook (134116)

          Of interest to me is where the demand is. I live in Japan and I've started to see Galaxy Tabs everywhere (there are even 3 here in the school staff room as I speak). I've yet to see anyone with an iPad. I suspect this is because Docomo and AU are *really* pushing Android (and working very hard at establishing "Android" as a viable brank) and Softbank is the only telecom vendor pushing iOS devices. And while iPods are quite popular here, it doesn't seem to be translating to iPad success. I suspect this

    • Well, to be brutally honest, Android is leading the smartphone market and it is almost non-existent in the tablet market.

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:23PM (#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.

    • by JAlexoi (1085785) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @01:04PM (#35589578) Homepage
      You know what's infuriating for me? As a citizen and resident of a country where software patents are explicitly forbidden, I still end up paying for those software patents...
      It's OK if the product was designed, manufactured in US or the company is American. But why do I have to pay for the software patents on devices that are neither targeted at US, not manufactured in US and the company is not based in US? All HTC Android devices have the license fee for those software patents included and forwarded to MS. That is the fucking loophole that I hate.
      Basically that is one of the imperialistic features of current US. Reminds me of stamp tax...
      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        That's more of a question of how effective is it to make a "US-only" device and an "Everyone Else" device. HTC could very well make a phone using just the open sourced version of Android, thank Google with a nicely worded letter and nothing more (instead of being a premiere partner in AOSP, OHSA, etc. and paying activation fees to Google for every handset) but what would be the point? Do you really want an Android replica with no actual ties to Google? No app market? No one-stop activation?

    • by brkello (642429)

      Why can't we sue the patent office?

  • by powerlord (28156) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @12:27PM (#35589050) Journal

    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.

    This is probably the single most important bit. Not whether it is correct or not, but for what is implied in the statement.

    I imagine if a phone distributing Win-WOMPIT (Whatever Our Mobile Platform Is Today) gets sued, MicroSoft would probably be target #1, or at least an often named Co-Defendant. With the iPhone the manufacturer of the handset and OS are the same, and Apple has (and is/will) field these sort of things on its own.

    With Android, if people are going after the Handset manufacturers independent of Google, then they might feel it opens them up to too much individual liability (wether or not it is true). If that happens, then no one will want to make Android devices, since they will just cost more in legal fees.

    Maybe this is yet another reason for Google to buy out T-Mobile instead of AT&T. Let them take over a Cell Carrier, open up their air-waves, and provide a "foundation" to start actually making 'native' Android phones for their own network?

  • 37 lawsuits have been filed against Android

    In a row?

  • It doesn't pay to write free software that's any good.

    Thanks, Patent Office!

  • The patent trolls are taking over slashdot. Microsoft must be happy now. Sigh

  • I understand physical items, the time required to design and develop a physical, I can hold deal and the longer lengths of time required to develop.. but software? Plus there's more than one way to write code to obtain the same outcome.. Why aren't the terms shortened so progress and such can actually happen?!

    • by yurtinus (1590157)
      It's not so much the term lengths - software can have just as long a development time as hardware as well as decent longevity (compare say the age of your favorite text editor with the age of your cell phone...). The problem is the abundance of pretty obvious innovations that get patented coupled with potentially huge consequences for infringement.
    • by msclrhd (1211086)

      Exactly. 12-15 years is too long in the software world (think Windows 95 vs. Windows 7).

      Patents are supposed to help benefit society by having inventors document their invention and getting a limited time exclusivity right for it. There is no reason why this cannot be true for software, but limited to 2-3 years (e.g. multi-touch).

  • CPTN Holdings-a Microsoft-led group that includes Apple, EMC, and Oracle is in the process of buying 882 of Novell’s patents. Given the recent patent-related legal action by MS and Oracle against Android/Google, why doesn't Google bid on Novell's patents? Wouldn't it put Google in a much better defensive position?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    For the (how many are there, these days?) folks at Microsoft who actually do invention and implementation as opposed to managing various marketing, licensing and litigation schemes, this must be pretty embarrassing, sad-making. Can't seem to compete by getting useful and compelling products into the hands of consumers, so fight in the courts? Pathetic, really.

  • Wouldnt this problem be bypassed by handset makers selling phones with a vary basic(featurephone like) custom OS. Let the community develop Android for specific models, but make the phone hardware in such a way that it is easy for the community to develop for and customise.Then users can install Android on their own. Provide a backup ROM like some GPU makers provide to prevent bricking.

    Somewhat like selling laptops without an OS

  • 37?!? [youtube.com]

    Try not to get sued on the way to the parking lot...

  • The whole industry is fucked up and has been for a very, very, long time. Given the number of countries and the number of players with a vested interest, the only way we'll see reform is from a total collapse of the patent and copyright systems like we're already seeing with music and movies.

    I, for one, would LOVE to know how much money the top 50 IT companies in the world have SWAPPED over patent and copyright lawsuits in the last 20 years - I'm quite sure the figure would be mind blowing for mere mor

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