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Google In Battle With Its Own Lawyers 271

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeps-your-friends-close dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google is at daggers end with a law firm it's been using since 2008, after discovering that lawyers in the law firm, named Pepper Hamilton LLP, were representing a patent licensing business that sued Google's Android partners last month. Google has claimed that Pepper Hamilton LLP never provided notice that it was hired by Digitude Innovations LLC, the firm that filed patent infringement complaints against Google's business allies."
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Google In Battle With Its Own Lawyers

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  • So, (Score:5, Funny)

    by rotorbudd (1242864) * on Sunday February 05, 2012 @05:18PM (#38937153)

    We're talking lawyers here.

    • Re:So, (Score:5, Funny)

      by Kohenkatz (1166461) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @05:37PM (#38937271) Homepage Journal
      The Pogo quote in your sig sums this up better than any other comment on the page.
    • by bbbaldie (935205)
      If you can't trust a lawyer,. who CAN you trust??
      • by jdgeorge (18767)

        The answer SHOULD be you can trust YOUR lawyer. This is a big problem when your lawyer represents your legal opponent, which is a straightforward conflict of interest. When your law firm represents your legal opponent (as in this case) this is a still a conflict of interest.

        Generally, lawyers/firms know better than to allow this sort of problem to arise, because it can result in loss of clients/revenue (among other things).

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday February 06, 2012 @11:03AM (#38941743) Homepage Journal

      In 1958, my grandfather worked for Purina and was severely injured falling four stories down an elevator shaft. The elevator had no doors. He was a complete invalid until he died ten years later. His and my grandmother's lives were living hells.

      Grandma spoke to a few lawyers in the area, all of whom told her she she had no case, despite Purina's obvious negligence.

      My dad found out later that Purina had every lawyer in the state on its payroll. It's disgusting what lawyers who are owned by soulless corporations will do for their dirty money.

  • Lesson of the day: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheDarkMaster (1292526) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @05:20PM (#38937171)
    Never, never trust a lawyer.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2012 @05:44PM (#38937301)

      I really don't get the irrational hatred for lawyers on Slashdot. It's possible that the facts here will show that the law firm has broken a professional code of conduct, which if their jurisdiction is like mine carries penalties under the law. You might as well say "never, never trust a black man" after the hundredth item of news about a black man committing a violent crime, conveniently ignoring the other x million non-violent black men.

      Let me summarise as simply as possible: lawyers provide advice and speak on your behalf in defending your rights under the law. That's all they do. They don't get to make law and they'll face worse consequences than a layperson if they break it. If you don't like the law - and there are lots of laws not to like - then by attacking the lawyers you are essentially saying, "I believe the problem is not some particular law but that we even have the rule of law." You are annoyed because some legislative process exists which gives rights and duties and there are remedies for enforcing those rights and duties. But ubi remedium ibi ius: there is no law/justice without a means of enforcing it.

      Your problem is with your legislature, a corrupt shower of bastards voted in by an ignorant population. We have a similar problem on the other side of the pond, although in our case it's more apathetic cynicism than mindless patriotism. Deal with them and let your judiciary enforce the laws you want. Common law systems are really top of their class, as far as this planet goes.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2012 @05:54PM (#38937363)
        That sounds like lawyer talk. GET A ROPE!
      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2012 @06:02PM (#38937417)

        lawyers provide advice and speak on your behalf in defending your rights under the law

        In this case, those lawyers both defend Google's rights and the rights of their direct competitors. Could be fun in court, one lawyer defending *both* parties. I don't think any judge would accept that.

        Now admittedly, what's going on here is probably a slight bit more subtle: different (I might hope!!) lawyers working for the same company, defending both Google and their competitors. Still it's a pretty clear-cut case of conflicting interests there. If they're ethical, they can be professional about it and not talk about their clients to each other. The problem is, how do you know? At least if those lawyers work for different entities, it's less likely they'll leak information to each other around the water cooler.

      • by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @06:20PM (#38937513)

        Let me summarise as simply as possible: lawyers provide advice and speak on your behalf in defending your rights under the law. That's all they do.

        No, they do one other thing, which is the thing people hate them for: They self-replicate. If you encounter a lawyer, you need to get your own lawyer to deal with them. When it turns out that your lawyer has a conflict of interest, you need another lawyer to take on the work the first lawyer had, the lawyer's other client that created the conflict needs another lawyer for the same reason, you then need a different kind of lawyer to consider going after the first lawyer for malpractice for not disclosing the conflict, your old lawyer needs his own lawyer to defend against the possible malpractice claim, on and on. By the time you're the size of Google you're drowning in a sea of lawyers.

        While it's true that the legislature is in part responsible for the laws that result in anyone attempting to do business in this country needing to hire an entire division of attorneys, the attorneys themselves are the ones who lobby to keep it that way.

        I'll give you an example: Software patents. The strongest lobby preventing software patents from being eliminated is the software patent lawyers. Larger software companies hate them (because of patent trolls), smaller software companies hate them (because it allows larger companies to crush them), individual software engineers hate them (because it's all a giant waste of time). The only people who want them are patent lawyers and patent trolling companies that are full of patent lawyers.

        • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @06:38PM (#38937625)
          You miss the fact that most of those laws you need lawyers to deal with were written by lawyers. To quote the GP, "Your problem is with your legislature, a corrupt shower of bastards voted in by an ignorant population." And most of those people in the legislature are lawyers.
          This brings up my second law of voting, "Vote against the lawyer." When voting, if one of the candidates is not a lawyer, unless there is an overwhelmingly convincing reason to do otherwise, that is the candidate you should vote for.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Knowing the law is kinda advantageous both to reach and to work in a position where you're making it. Lawyers are a good example of people who know and understand the law. Now it's not necessary to have as much understanding as a lawyer to work in the legislature, nor is it sufficient. How about having a word with your fellow voter about this? Your representatives don't vote themselves in, no matter how cynically you want to try to paint it.

            Or look at it another way. Choose a random lawyer then choose a ran

          • by ilguido (1704434) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @07:52PM (#38937983) Homepage
            Exactly, that's what I learned attending the Operating Systems course at the university:

            A lawyer does not work for only one client at time. While one case is waiting to go to trial or have papers typed, the lawyer can work on another case. If she has enough clients, the lawyer will never be idle for lack of work. (Idle lawyers tend to become politicians, so there is a certain social value in keeping lawyers busy.)

            Silberschatz, Galvin & Gagne, Operating System Concepts

          • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2012 @08:26PM (#38938127)

            No, they're not. For example, less than 35% of the US House of Representatives are lawyers.

            Laws are written by lobbyists and rich business executives.

        • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @06:56PM (#38937735)

          Well put.

          Personally, I've found my opinion of lawyers is concisely stated in this quote from Henry Peter Brougham, a British Lord, statesman, and, yes, lawyer:
          "A lawyer is a learned gentleman who rescues your estate from your enemies and keeps it himself."

          Or paraphrasing a friend going through a divorce:
          Seeing my lawyer has all the all the discomfort of a dental procedure, all the frustration of a visit to the DMV, and all the aggrivation of a cell phone bill. Except I don't get anything as useful as a root canal, a drivers licence, or a cell phone. I just get the promise of another visit in a month.

        • by richwa (936556) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @08:07PM (#38938053)

          Lawyers are nothing but hired guns to fight battles. An attorney is required to provide the best defense or offense for their client regardless of what they think of their client. If attorneys started refusing to provide legal defenses for the worst of the worst then how would we really know who they are; the government would be free jail most anyone by claiming them "the worst of the worst."

          The biggest source of lobbying for software patents are companies like MS and groups like the Business Software Alliance not patent attorneys (unless they are paid for doing the lobbying.) This are the same people that have pushed for SOPA and ProtectIP. (MS and BSA rescinded their support, I think, after all our hue and cry.)

          Your example of software patents falls flat. You are absolutely right about software patents; they should not exist. But, it's not the patent lawyers that are creating the problems, it's the people that hire the lawyers that are the root problem. (In most cases these people are not attorneys but usually Wall Street, vulture capital types.)

          The real reason that lawyers have a bad rap is that they can win big $$$ for their clients from corporations thus cutting into their profits ergo a long-term on-going swiftboat of them. What people forget is that is people like them -- people like us -- that are sitting on those juries and making these awards in the name of justice and in attempting to prevent future damages to the common good. As long as an attorney can get $100 million from a company like Exxon when they purposely give someone cancer, attorneys will be vilified by those who care more about their profits than our well-being; it's called negative advertising and it works.

          • by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @11:01PM (#38938653)

            The biggest source of lobbying for software patents are companies like MS and groups like the Business Software Alliance

            What makes you think they want software patents? They're the ones having to pay record damage awards to patent trolls. At best they're agnostic.

            Granted Microsoft has been getting into the patent trolling business with Android to some extent, but that isn't evidence of software companies wanting software patents, it's evidence of patent trolls wanting them: Any company that collects more revenue from patent licensing than they do from selling their own software is no longer a software company.

        • by evilviper (135110)

          Larger software companies hate them (because of patent trolls), smaller software companies hate them (because it allows larger companies to crush them), individual software engineers hate them (because it's all a giant waste of time). The only people who want them are patent lawyers and patent trolling companies that are full of patent lawyers.

          This is not true at all. I work for a medium-sized company. We make lots of real hardware, and lots of real software... we are not a patent troll. However, the to

          • by Sabriel (134364) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @10:12PM (#38938479)

            The root issue I have with patents - software or otherwise - is that anyone and everyone who independently arrives at the same solution are all screwed, solely because one entity has paid the government to prevent anyone else from using that solution without paying up.

            It's a protection racket under colour of authority. "Pay me for having the same idea I had, or I'll send the boys^Wgovernment around to ruin you." That's the patent system. That's "gimme gimme gimme."

            Until you change that fundamental aspect of the system, until patents allow for independent invention, that's the system you're defending.

            As with Free Software, if you don't like it, go develop an alternative yourself, and release it for free. On2 & Google did exactly that.

            And how far do you think On2/Google would've gotten if they hadn't had their own army of mercenaries^W laywers to deter the existing codec patent holders from attacking them?

          • by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @11:33PM (#38938799)

            We make lots of real hardware, and lots of real software... we are not a patent troll. However, the top executives love software patents, because they are about 90% profit.

            It sounds to me like you are a patent troll. If you actually made products then you would be the ones paying the license fees rather than collecting them, which leaves you in an approximate break even situation. Certainly that is inherently the situation industry wide: The average software company has a negative ROI from the existence of software patents, because every license fee collected by anyone is paid by someone else, and some of the recipients are patent trolls, which means that the system is necessarily a net negative for the companies that actually make software: The payments between software companies are breakeven on an industry level and the payments to trolls are deadweight losses.

            We're somehow fine with the extensive R&D that has gone into mechanical engineering being patentable, but as soon as you can replace these with digital systems, the same R&D effort is no longer protected in many countries. It makes no sense

            It makes perfect sense. Hardware has physical constraints, software is pure abstract math. You can't patent math -- and for good reason. I'm sure Einstein worked very hard on E=mc^2, but explaining how fusion works doesn't give you any right to exclude people from using sunlight.

            it's just going to drive us back to a proprietary world, where everything is fiercly protected as trade secrets, and anything open is a thing of the past.

            How do you expect trade secrets to be maintained within software that is distributed to the general public?

            The most "pure" use case for software patents is MPEG. They wouldn't represent the best technology companies around the world have to offer, if software implementations could not be capitalized upon. And don't tell me about free software... Theora and WebM were both developed by On2, which made its money with proprietary codecs which could be licensed for less than patent licenses for the MPEG technologies. If not for software patents, we probably wouldn't have made it past Cinepak, or MPEG-1 at best, before falling back into proprietary-only solutions.

            What are you talking about? You can't have a "proprietary" video codec without software patents. It would get reverse engineered inside of two weeks. On top of that, most of the codec research is done by universities rather than private companies.

            But never mind that, let's talk about On2. If Google found it cost effective to pay the money (in the form of buying the company) to develop a new codec so that it would be available for everyone to use for free, what makes you think they wouldn't have done the same thing without software patents? If anything the free codec would have been better, because it wouldn't have had to make intentionally inefficient choices specifically to avoid the MPEG patent pool.

        • by ATMAvatar (648864) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @09:54PM (#38938431) Journal

          Another reason why people hate lawyers as individuals:

          Lawyers appear to have no morality. This is not really the fault of the lawyer - in fact, one could say it is the job of a lawyer to check his/her sense of morality at the door so he/she can properly represent their client. That makes it incredibly difficult to separate out those lawyers who are decent people only doing their job and those lawyers who really have no morals. The obvious, emotional/knee-jerk response is to assume that they are all sociopaths.

      • by bobstreo (1320787)

        In my experience lawyers exist to extract money from clients. It is either in the form
        of retainer fees, hourly charges or percentages of court winnings. In the case of a "bad" lawyer it is
        probably all three.

        Representing both sides is just an opportunity to get the most money from the most people.

        • by Achra (846023)
          A friend of mine heard the following statement while in law school from a professor: "Lawyers exist basically to slow things down and get paid a lot of money." From my experience as a pro se litigant, I would have to agree. I honestly would never be able to afford to pay a lawyer for the work that I do myself. It's like working on your own car: if you can afford to have someone else do it for you, that's great.. but I've never been that guy. :)
        • by perpenso (1613749) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @10:50PM (#38938617)

          In my experience lawyers exist to extract money from clients.

          When I told my lawyer that I needed a EULA for an iPhone / iPad app [perpenso.com] and gave him a list of concerns, he called me back 15 minutes later to say that Apple's App Store EULA covers third parties like me and that my listed concerns are covered there. That I didn't need my own EULA.

          There must be something wrong with my lawyer, he served me well rather than extract the maximum amount of money. YMMV.

      • by mrbester (200927)
        How many lawyers are politicians and thus can make law? Last I heard it was a distinctly significant number.
        • by HiThere (15173)

          It's not that most lawyers are politicians. Very few are. It's that most politicians are lawyers. Almost all are.

      • by TheDarkMaster (1292526) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @06:23PM (#38937539)
        In an ideal world you would be correct, but in the real world lawyers give so many reasons to be hated that it is very, very difficult to speak well of them.
      • by superwiz (655733)

        lawyers provide advice and speak on your behalf in defending your rights under the law. That's all they do.

        Oh? So the verb "advocacy" derived from the noun synonym for a lawyer, "advocate", never describes the professional behavior of lawyers? They never advocate for bad causes in order to benefit financially? Sure, other professions might do it as well, but lawyers are the ones who formally do it.

        Your problem is with your legislature, a corrupt shower of bastards voted in by an ignorant population.

        Pure nonsense. The legislature has been stripped of virtually all power at this point. You'd be hard pressed to name a legislative power which the executive branch has not also claimed for itself.

      • Your problem is with your legislature, a corrupt shower of bastards voted in by an ignorant population.

        Which is made up predominately with lawyers.

        Lawyers who use lawyer speak and care not for what is right for society, but with technicalities and winning arguments and power using them.

      • by sjames (1099)

        It's only natural. Lawyers are more or less the public face of a very broken judicial system. This is because of the terrible commercials the bottom feeders have running 24/7 trying to convince people to sue for anything and everything imaginable. While those lawyers are not all of them and may not be truly representative of the profession, it's what people see. Other than cases where the defendant has deep pockets, it is nearly impossible for a person making the median income in the U.S. to afford a lawyer

      • by HiThere (15173)

        There are, indeed, legal penalties. They are almost never enforced. Most "decent lawyers" defend the actions of the obviously criminally corrupt ones. Hatred of them is not irrational, when they are your deadly enemies. (As a class. Please note that there are significant exceptions.)

        It's like the way doctors support other doctors who are criminally incompetent or careless. Or corporation heads support corporation heads. In each case the hatered is justified, because these are people who regularly and

      • Some might say it is because that it takes so long to become a practising lawyer that they become trapped in the ivory tower and don't relate to real people any more. Me, I'm inclined to believe it is that plus the fact that by over-complicating law they have found job security and higher wages. This leads lawyers to pursue legalities instead of justice (which is a form of ethics). This case is a great example. It is probably legal for them to represent both sides. It certainly is not ethical or just. It is
      • by hey! (33014)

        Let me summarise as simply as possible:

        Let me summarize more succinctly: people are selfish bastards. Lawyers are merely the instrument with which they make use of the coercive power of the state to act like selfish bastards. Large corporations are like people, but with even fewer scruples and a lot more power and money.

      • by hot soldering iron (800102) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @08:50PM (#38938211)

        You think the hatred of lawyers is "irrational"? This site is FULL of rational people, and most all of them either hate lawyers, or have had little to do with them. So guess which group you sound like...

        You then blame the executive branch of government, which is mostly lawyers, and seem to be saying "hate the game, not the players". But the players are the one's running the game...

      • Hated of lawyers? (Score:5, Informative)

        by phorm (591458) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @09:26PM (#38938349) Journal

        I don't see a hatred against all lawyers, but a general distrust of the industry and a hatred of bad/immoral/etc lawyers.

        NYCL is fairly popular here, as are the folks at Groklaw (OK, P.J. is actually a paralegal). The others (patent troll lawyers, Jack Thompson, etc) are surely unpopular here, but IMHO in most cases their lack of popularity is rather warranted.

        • by msobkow (48369)

          I've dealt with some exceptionally helpful, good lawyers in my life.

          But you don't hear about them in the news. You hear about the ambulance-chasing shills, the ones who rip off their clients, the scammers who take the majority of settlement funds in class actions, etc.

          In this particular case, Google has every right to complain -- the firm exhibited extremely bad judgment in taking on this new client, due to the obvious conflict of interest. They've demonstrated that like many firms, greed overrides c

      • "I really don't get the irrational hatred for lawyers on Slashdot."

        Who said it's irrational? A lawyer?

        "lawyers provide advice and speak on your behalf in defending your rights under the law."

        If only so it were.

        "They don't get to make law"

        Please go and see which are the most common studies among those that do get to make law.

        "and they'll face worse consequences than a layperson if they break it."

        No. They face bad consequences *if* they get caugth. Which is exactly what they are best tooled not to happen.

        "b

      • by Apple Acolyte (517892) on Monday February 06, 2012 @02:01AM (#38939405)

        First AC, I commend you for the very reasonable defense of your (presumed) profession. I agree with much of what you wrote. But I felt compelled enough to login to speak to one point you raised:

        They don't get to make law and they'll face worse consequences than a layperson if they break it.

        I have dealt with more than a few lawyers, including working with them (for free on my part) and employing them. I have considered law school in the past (the direction I was urged by family and friends to go in) - I enjoy law and our legal system (generally). The fact is, however, it is not within my realm of experience to corroborate your claim that lawyers face worse consequences if they break the law. I have experienced quite the opposite.

        When I went up against a lawyer who was trying to steal away corporate rights from an organization I helped manage, I witnessed said lawyer act in bad faith, violate the canons of ethics in many respects and even perjure himself in a brazen fashion, in an attempt to prevail against our side. We contacted his state bar with proof of these strong claims and were essentially told that while perhaps some of his actions were questionable, he wasn't violating their standards. They showed us that, at least in that instance, first and foremost lawyers protect one another.

        Against substantial odds we prevailed against the scum bag lawyer being discussed, but other than the settlement that barred him from attacking us in the future, we got not satisfaction in recompense for his wrongdoing from the legal system. No repayment for the very considerable legal expenses he forced us to pay to fight him off.

        So, Attorney AC, based on my admittedly thin anecdotal experience, lawyers very often don't get punished for violating the law. They know how to take advantage of the system, and their colleagues protect them. They resort to underhanded and at times explicitly illegal tactics to gain the upper hand, and they don't get called on it except in extraordinary situations. I've also found that even good lawyers often have to resort to doing bad things in the course of their duties. Given that so many lawyers are scum, it's not hard to surmise that even the good ones have to act like scum in the course of dealing with the true scum. There is such a thing as a good lawyer; many presumably exist. They don't deserve to be negatively stereotyped. But the profession itself, at least in the US, justifiably carries a bad reputation.

      • There is nothing irrational about the hatred of lawyers in today's world. A lawyer will take a struggling single parent's last dollar, before telling her that he cannot help her. We've seen lawyers take money to represent a client, then abandon that client days before a court hearing. I've personally seen a lawyer take hundreds of dollars from struggling young parents AT CHRISTMAS TIME, just to inform them that there is almost nothing he can do for them.

        While some individuals might be admirable persons,

      • Ehhhh NO....

        Yes lawyers provide advice, and yes lawyers defend your rights. HOWEVER, lawyers also use loopholes that go beyond common sense. As an engineer I had to take law (that's how it is in Canada). So the lawyer who talked to us talked to us about the following case.

        His client drove through a stop sign and rammed another person and causing quite a bit of damage. The thing is that his client was guilty of running a stop sign. Though his client asked if he could "get out of jail." The lawyer (he) looked

    • More like: "Never trust a man in a suit".
      Lawyers are just a small subsection of this greater grouping.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      Never, never trust a lawyer.

      Soooooo.... thats "Always trust a lawyer"?
      Rather lawyer-like double-speak there.

    • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Sunday February 05, 2012 @08:00PM (#38938025) Journal

      * Except NYCL!

  • by unity100 (970058) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @05:20PM (#38937179) Homepage Journal

    google has the finances to buy out entire u.s. legal system. why have not they set up their own shark team yet ? ............

    really. the way silicon valley takes these threats to the digital age - like copyright/big media, patent trolls etc, anti-net neutrality etc - is WAY too carefree and lighthearted. even, totally oblivious.

    for example, sopa/pipa thwarted, another is being cooked, acta already being pushed, and silicon valley is not doing shit.

    • by Neil_Brown (1568845) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @05:38PM (#38937279) Homepage

      why have not they set up their own shark team yet ?

      Google has its own legal team, but that doesn't end the need for external legal advice at times, if only because of the ability to scale up quickly by using a law firm (e.g. during a discovery phase of litigation, or due diligence during an acquisition).

      (I'm employed as a lawyer in a substantial in-house legal team, which has a panel of law firms.)

    • by KiloByte (825081)

      Google could buy out the whole MAFIAA with little leverage, and with cooperation with Facebook and co, even straight out. Due to the way Hollywood accounting and similar practices work, lawsuits against those "not a subsidiary, honest" companies would probably be enough to recover that money, before even starting an asset sale. And even if such a corporate raid would end up with a loss -- heck, the balance in lobbying would shift so much we could even possibly get an outright abolishment of copyright.

      • by SteveFoerster (136027) <{moc.retsreofevets} {ta} {evets}> on Sunday February 05, 2012 @06:09PM (#38937471) Homepage

        Google could buy out the whole MAFIAA with little leverage, and with cooperation with Facebook and co, even straight out.

        ...were it not for antitrust legislation.

      • by Score Whore (32328) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @07:04PM (#38937765)

        Disney has a market cap of $71.86 billion. News Corp (owns Fox Entertainment Group which owns 20th Century Fox) has a market cap of $50 billion. Sony (owns Sony Pictures) has a market cap if $19 billion. Comcast market cap $74 billion (owns Universal Pictures.) Time Warner (owns Warner Bros. Pictures) market cap $38 billion. I've no idea what Viacom is worth as they're private. The five publicly traded companies have a combined market cap of $252 billion.

        Google has $44 billion in cash. Facebook's IPO hopes to raise $5 billion. Not only could they not "buy out the whole MAFIAA with little leverage", they couldn't do it even if they sold their souls. And it's unlikely anyone would want to buy those two souls. FB will have P/E of 166, GOOG's P/E is 20. Two of the most profitable companies in the world don't have such high P/E ratios. (AAPL P/E is 13 & XOM P/E is 10.)

        • by Solandri (704621) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @11:32PM (#38938785)
          The meme started out as $random_big_tech_company could buy all the RIAA companies. Which is true - the record companies average something like only $13 billion a year in revenue. Their entire industry is small potatoes compared to even a moderate-sized tech company

          Somewhere along the way, people began to substitute RIAA with MPAA, then MAFIAA. That's false - the movie industry is much, much larger than the record industry. (Incidentally, you should be pricing just the subdivisions which make movies when talking about the MPAA, not the parent company.)

          Generally though, slashdotters see the RIAA as much more evil than the MPAA. I mean they're both on the wrong side of the copyright debate, but the movie industry at least prices a 90 minute Blu-ray/DVD for ~$20 which took a staff of thousands to make. They have a thriving movie rental business model, as well as a pay per view model (essentially streamed movies). They're adapting to new technology and developments in their business. Maybe not in ways we always agree with, but at least they're trying.

          The record industry OTOH wants about ~$15 for a 45 minute CD album which took a staff of a few dozen to make. They fought tooth and to kill DATs (succeeded) and MP3s (failed). And the royalties they "negotiated" with Internet streaming companies are so ridiculously high it basically drove them out of business. Of the two branches of the *AA, the RIAA is much, much worse. Which is why the meme about tech companies just buying them out began.
    • by marcroelofs (797176) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @05:59PM (#38937407)
      More to the point, why would a lawfirm having a client with the stature and glamour like Google risk all by even negotiating with a conflicting cient.
    • by oiron (697563) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @07:00PM (#38937743) Homepage

      Many things can't be done by in-house lawyers. I don't know how it is in the US, but here in India, a case cannot be argued in court by in-house lawyers. This is done partly to reduce conflicts of interest. An attorney is supposed to be able to give his client advice the client doesn't want to hear, and by being independent, that's supposed to help a bit.

      Also, having a specialized company handling multiple clients rather than each company trying to replicate the function is probably more efficient?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If that happened in my state and Google wanted to push it to the end, that firm could lose its firm license and the lawyers in charge could lose their licenses too.

    But then again, my state takes conflicts of interest very seriously.

  • Concurrent COI (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jayfield (2317990) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @05:24PM (#38937191)
    It sounds like this law firm just violated Model Rule 1.7(a)(1), which is concurrently representing adverse clients. Someone's getting in trouble with the state bar...
    • Seriously? will they get in "trouble" or will heads really roll? I get the impression that you have to be pretty bad fairly repeatedly before the bar does anything.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A perfect example from Schlock Mercenary [schlockmercenary.com], back when the art was bad, but the writing was amazing. Today the writing is still amazing, and so is the art.

      Odd choice of captcha - buttocks.

    • Re:Concurrent COI (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 05, 2012 @05:41PM (#38937291)

      The only problem with this is that no one has sued Google, outside of Oracle. The cases were against other companies and not Google itself. It's definitely dishonest, but then again it's lawyers. They probably have plenty of wiggle room to steer clear of any real problems.

    • by gpmanrpi (548447)
      Well I assume they would have violated actual rules in their jurisdiction. Some states have more flexible conflict rules. If we are assuming California, I would have no idea. But to give the allegory in Florida where I am licensed, they would need to alert the clients of the conflict and then most likely withdraw. If the same attorneys worked on both sides of cases they could be in real trouble. They may have to repay legal fees as well, and they may be then disciplined depending on the nature of the h
  • by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Sunday February 05, 2012 @05:25PM (#38937199) Homepage

    There's no conflict; the lawyer's interests are perfectly consistent.

  • I'm sure the Nazgul are free post SCO.

    • by darkonc (47285)
      We're not *quite* post SCO... The bankrupt ghost of SCO is still trying to push pieces of the lawsuit through the courts.
  • The lawyers promised to do no evil!
  • For a company full to the brim with extraordinarily smart and gifted people, Google sure is being.. less than cunning as of late. Sure, they may succeed, despite themselves, eventually, but fuck, it looks bad. The numerous screw-ups with Google+ come to mind, and then letting Microsoft collect "taxes" from nearly all Android licensees (and Google just sitting around with its dick in hand) and now this.

    I look at these apparent mistakes, and kind of hope there is some diabolic plan in place at Google, but the

  • How do I know?

    All the stars are still there.

    • by stox (131684)

      Do lawyers actually need air? Let's send them into orbit, sans spacesuits, and find out!

  • Dump them & move on. Don't waste effort on the parasites.
  • Wake Up, Google! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Sunday February 05, 2012 @08:55PM (#38938237) Homepage

    Don't you just hate it when you strengthen a system, like patents, and it gets worse, and you strengthen it even more, and it gets worse, and you strengthen it still more, and it gets worse?

    Psst -- Google, Apple, Motorola, Microsoft, IBM -- come here, I want to tell you something.

    When the machine that you have built is moving too much revenue from the producers to the inventors; you can fix it by making it move less revenue from the producers to the inventors. When producing for the customer is paying less and less, and having lawyers and patents is paying more and more, and it is leading to wild legal thickets that make it unattractive to produce things for the customer, the system is out of balance. Much like copyright, the answer to a malfunctioning patent system is not always stricter patents. Sometimes the answer is weaker patents. You should be able to see that pretty clearly from where you are standing. Just open your damned eyes.

    You are getting hoist by your own petard. Wake up and figure it out, already. You own the government now, so we can't do anything to help you. You've got to tell the legislators you own to cut back on patent strength, or you -- and all of us, not that you give a shit -- but you are going to lose all you have built.

    Ask yourself this: Are we having more problems with companies not bothering to come up with cool new patentable things? Or are we having more problems with companies squabbling over who is allowed to build which things? If the bigger problem is the latter, it means we need to reduce the rate of revenue flow or we will all lose. It is actually a pretty easy thing to control through patent policy -- strengthen it, more revenue flows, weaken it, less revenue flows; like a faucet -- you just have to open your eyes and recognize the problem.

  • Uhh, isn't that grounds for disbarment? I thought it was basically illegal to represent both parties within the same lawfirm, it being a conflict of interest and all. It was my impression that it was grounds for disbarment if a lawyer knowingly did that. I would find it incredibly hard to believe that the firm did not know they were representing Google and also suing them... that just seems virtually impossible.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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