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Android Cellphones Patents Google The Courts United States Upgrades Apple

Apple Forces Google To Degrade Android Features 498

Posted by timothy
from the advancing-the-arts-and-sciences dept.
walterbyrd writes "The latest in the ridiculous saga of the patent dispute between Apple and Samsung, which has resulted in Samsung phones and tablets being banned from sale in the U.S. is that Samsung, with the help of Google, has been pushing out an over-the-air software update to make its phones worse. Yes, the OTA update is designed to take away a feature, in an effort to convince the judge that the phones no longer violate Apple's patents. The feature in question? The ability to do a single search that covers both the local device and the internet."
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Apple Forces Google To Degrade Android Features

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    You'd have to pay to be de-graded!

  • Kill Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pubwvj (1045960) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @02:29PM (#40576955)

    Time to kill off the patent system. It has become absurd.

    • Re:Kill Patents (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 07, 2012 @02:37PM (#40577021)

      I think Apple should be killed first. I have never seen a worse bully or a sorer loser. The tech industry needs to rid itself off this idiocy of a company once and for all. With all the money they have, they have the power now to completely annihilate innovation in the entire tech World. Things were better when they did not have that kind of money power; atleast then they had the hunger to build better products. Instead of quashing competition in the Courts and with the FTC.

      • Re:Kill Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

        by amiga3D (567632) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @02:44PM (#40577075)

        I can't defend Apple's actions but then I don't need to. What they do is legal. The problem is the system. There will always be the Microsofts, Apples and Oracles of the world but giving them this kind of power is beyond stupid. If it wasn't Apple it would be someone else.

        • Re:Kill Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gl4ss (559668) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @03:13PM (#40577265) Homepage Journal

          I can't defend Apple's actions but then I don't need to. What they do is legal. The problem is the system. There will always be the Microsofts, Apples and Oracles of the world but giving them this kind of power is beyond stupid. If it wasn't Apple it would be someone else.

          thing is, what Microsoft can't do they have Apple do. Either for fear of government interference(this is still a very large real threat for MS, but not to Apple due to legacy reasons and Apple owning just a small part of the desktop world) or fear of pissing up their manufacturers, some of which are only shipping windows phone as lip service to MS to keep them from litigating against their Android phones - and to reap money back from MS they have to pay to MS as licenses when shipping androids, by getting discounts on WP licenses.

          Apple has no problem with the manufacturers shipping MS products(cross licensing in place - with unpublished details). And Nokia has cross license agreements with said manufacturers so they don't want to stir the pot(and they're knee deep in frand licensing too, which Apple isn't).

          It's sort of a new age duopoly arrangement. Mere few years ago these players were busy litigating each other but now they're effectively married as far as patents and blocking each others products go, with cross licensing agreements between Apple, Nokia and MS going every way and even a patent troll created by MS and Nokia as a pool - and they all want android and the other manufacturers dead or under their control(Nokia maps as default win wp8 amounts to wp licensees effectively paying their competitor a small sum for every shipped phone, though again details are hidden). It's part of the system that has kept new handset manufacturers blocked from market despite foxconn being available as a manufacturing resource for anyone, the os being available for anyone, the parts sources being available for anyone...

          what's even more ridiculous is that multiple firms have patents for things which amount to being the same thing when executed. that's sick.

          anyhow, mixed local and web searches suck ass.

          • Re:Kill Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Billly Gates (198444) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @06:01PM (#40578347) Journal

            I can't defend Apple's actions but then I don't need to. What they do is legal. The problem is the system. There will always be the Microsofts, Apples and Oracles of the world but giving them this kind of power is beyond stupid. If it wasn't Apple it would be someone else.

            thing is, what Microsoft can't do they have Apple do. Either for fear of government interference(this is still a very large real threat for MS, but not to Apple due to legacy reasons and Apple owning just a small part of the desktop world) or fear of pissing up their manufacturers, some of which are only shipping windows phone as lip service to MS to keep them from litigating against their Android phones - and to reap money back from MS they have to pay to MS as licenses when shipping androids, by getting discounts on WP licenses.

            Apple has no problem with the manufacturers shipping MS products(cross licensing in place - with unpublished details). And Nokia has cross license agreements with said manufacturers so they don't want to stir the pot(and they're knee deep in frand licensing too, which Apple isn't).

            It's sort of a new age duopoly arrangement. Mere few years ago these players were busy litigating each other but now they're effectively married as far as patents and blocking each others products go, with cross licensing agreements between Apple, Nokia and MS going every way and even a patent troll created by MS and Nokia as a pool - and they all want android and the other manufacturers dead or under their control(Nokia maps as default win wp8 amounts to wp licensees effectively paying their competitor a small sum for every shipped phone, though again details are hidden). It's part of the system that has kept new handset manufacturers blocked from market despite foxconn being available as a manufacturing resource for anyone, the os being available for anyone, the parts sources being available for anyone...

            what's even more ridiculous is that multiple firms have patents for things which amount to being the same thing when executed. that's sick.

            anyhow, mixed local and web searches suck ass.

            It is a step beyond this with Apple. THey all agree not to use or do cross licensing and patent protection rackets with each other so if a third party comes in and sues they can combine forces and sue for defense.

            But not Apple. Apple is everyone MUST OWN AN IPHONE or no phone at all. Everyone who makes phones needs to go out of business or leave the market to Apple altogether. They are extreme and fanatical and wont stop unless everyone but Apple is out of business. You can't negotiate with them as they do not want your profits. THey want you out of the market so Jobs vision of him outdoing Bill Gates succeeds. Tim's Cook ego is more important than your needs to your device you paid for.

            I think anti trust laws need to go to Apple as this is beyond the equivalent of giving away IE 6 for free. This is more like if MS sued every OEM who dared include any other browser and used the FTC to ban the downloads and imports of every browser but IE 6. Apple is much more agresive and is using its money to block competitors from entering the market.

            • Re:Kill Patents (Score:5, Interesting)

              by gl4ss (559668) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @07:30PM (#40578825) Homepage Journal

              Apple can't have total domination, they know that, there's always going to be some low margin devices from their age old competitor & factories that make their devices. they're fine with duopoly though, they know they don't have to fear windows phone that much and there's room for two on the market - but if both iOS and windows phone become niches among android versions that's bad business for both.

              Strange modding on my post though. it's not a troll, just statement of current facts - thing is though if you're a ms fan or an apple fan you're going to get pissed at the truth. if it's a troll how come nobody was trolled? no counter arguments?

              modding it overrated or off topic would be more apt if anything. these parties were suing each other just few years ago, but not that long ago they stopped that and all are aiming just making android less feasible - MS with demanding money from every android shipped and apple just outright gunning for blocking and the Nokia vs. Apple schism that could have caused trouble to Apple was brought to settlement after Nokia was brought to MS camp, the sums that were in public about that were so large they could have been used for short blocking, much more so than what Apple is using against nexus now, even oracles lawsuit could be seen as extension of that battle(even more so taking that Ellison is connected and was connected with Jobs). I'm not going to go all apk on it and start providing links for the things though, if someone wants consultation why I know all this and why it's true they'll have to look me up and pay relevant fees for my time - though it's all backed up by public news and documents, so I don't see why anyone who can google news articles would bother(not under nda's, no sauna talks, no bar talks - none of that sort led to these conclusions so I'm fine on that, can't sue me).

              and this isn't even near the ugliest things going on in mobile business.

        • Re:Kill Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 07, 2012 @03:21PM (#40577337)
          While you are absolutely right that what they are doing is legal, it doesn't mean that they aren't also bad actors. Getting a patent on "searching local and remote content with one search, OMG on a phone" is - well - a corruption of a broken system and it was disingenuous to even file for that patent. Then, actually using said patent in a blatant attempt to prevent competitive sales is almost the definition of a bad actor. (I imagine the "war room" sessions at Apple as they look through all of their patents and look at all competing devices to try to find something to sue over). While it is legal, it is also reprehensible. Just because it is legal doesn't mean they need to act in bad faith. However, I do believe that they will continue to do it (and so will others) until such time as the ludicrous rules allowing patents on software features are abolished.
        • Re:Kill Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Tough Love (215404) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @03:34PM (#40577431)

          I can't defend Apple's actions but then I don't need to. What they do is legal.

          It is also legal to be greedy and avaricious, and in some cases, immoral and unethical. Though legal, such behavior still needs defending.

        • Re:Kill Patents (Score:5, Interesting)

          by horza (87255) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @04:06PM (#40577711) Homepage

          There are plenty of morally wrong things people can do that are still legal. It's possible to harrass your neighbour in so many ways that just fall short of breaking the law, to the point they are suicidal, but if you don't do it then it doesn't mean somebody else will.

          Apple are a morally bankrupt company, that got lucky in launching a product at the right time technological advances made it possible, then are using their extensive cash piles to destroy innovation. Business suffers, consumers suffer, the only winner is Apple being able to flog off their inferior technology for a couple more years whilst they censor their rivals from the marketplace.

          Phillip.

          • Re:Kill Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

            by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Saturday July 07, 2012 @04:56PM (#40577975)

            Got lucky launching *a* product at the right time?

            Are you thinking of the same Apple as I am? One is a fluke, any more than that and it's far more than luck. Whatever you think of Apple, attributing their rise from near-death into one of the biggest companies in tech down to luck is to severely underestimate your "enemy", if that's how you want to position yourself (given the rest of your comment).

            Perhaps this is why Apple have such an easy time of it. Their competitors think it's all down to luck and fanaticism.

            For the record: strongly disagree with this lawsuit.

        • by Shivetya (243324) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @06:35PM (#40578529) Homepage Journal

          having been an Apple fan for many years, owning multiple iMacs, Macbooks, iPod devices, and iPads, I am through with buying their products. Perhaps I should have stopped earlier but it just seems 2012 is the year when Apple jumped the shark.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by walterbyrd (182728)

          > What they do is legal. The problem is the system.

          Do you defend all patent trolls, or just Apple?

          The system may have problems, but Apple chose to file all of those bogus patents, and Apple chose to file all of those bogus lawsuits. Apple should be held accountable for what Apple does.

          You are simply trying to deflect the blame from Apple, and that's BS. Just because the system is abusable does not mean that Apple is forced to abuse it.

    • Re:Kill Patents (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Shavano (2541114) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @03:30PM (#40577389)
      It's not the patent LAW that's the problem. They law says that a patent is for something that's innovative and that would not be obvious to a person skilled in the art (in this case, of programming computers). The problem is that this is a bad patent that should never have been granted in the first place. The problem lies with the PATENT EXAMINERS who ignored that portion of the law or were so incompetent in the field of programming that they didn't realize that passing the same data to an internet search engine that you pass to the search function on the computer or phone and then aggregating the results is obvious. The judge is supposed to presume that a patent is valid once granted. But it seems that in the area of software patents these days, that's an increasingly invalid assumption. Patents do get invalidated, but not often enough and often not before considerable damage is done to parties accused of violating patents.
      • by hweimer (709734) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @08:48PM (#40579187) Homepage

        Patent examiners are not stupid. But their performance reviews hinge on the number of patent application cases they were able to close. Rejecting a patent is much more time consuming than accepting it, because one has to justify it towards the applicants who are most certain to appeal the decision anyway, creating even more paperwork. So there is a strong incentive for any patent examiner to just rubber stamp with approval, resulting in the mess we currently observe.

        The reason behind this lies in the fact that it is politically desired to artificially inflate the numbers of patents granted in a country, because that is widely seen as an indicator for innovation. And of course, that is just another instance of Campbell's law [wikipedia.org].

    • by Zaelath (2588189) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @08:13PM (#40579041)

      They should introduce a three strikes system, if you get injunctions and three or more of your patents are struck down, you don't get any more injunctions. You can still sue for damages after the fact, but no more blocking competitors with irrelevant tat.

      I think that solves 90% of the problems with the current system. There's still the issue of needing the EFF to provide lawyers to people that aren't able to fight Apple/Oracle etc.. but they're not really that interested in those suits anyway, there's not enough money in the individual's accounts to pay the legal fees.

    • by chrismcb (983081)
      The abusrdity is how often patents are given for something that isn't novel, or new.
  • improvement (Score:4, Interesting)

    by khipu (2511498) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @02:31PM (#40576969)

    I actually prefer separate web searches and local searches. I find it annoying that the default Android search sends query terms over the web to Google, and I rarely if ever find the mixed searches useful.

    As far as I can tell, I can turn off mixed global/local search, but I end up having to choose one or the other with the Google search app. Or is there some way I can get separate shortcuts for local and web searches?

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Even if you like it that way, having them reach out and take a feature away sucks.

      Reminds me of when Amazon pulled copies of 1984 off of kindles.

    • Re:improvement (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jkrise (535370) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @02:50PM (#40577121) Journal

      Your personal views on the matter are completely irrelevant. That a company can be forced to remove a feature that it has provided in the desktop market for almost a decade, in order to not violate a patent that ought not to have been granted; vindicates Posner's views that the patent system is truly broken and absurd.

      • by khipu (2511498)

        If you think this is new, you really don't know much about patents. We've had cases like this going back more than a century. This particular example actually shows more that these kinds of bad patents are becoming less and less relevant with increasingly software-driven products, products that can be updated essentially overnight. At some point, Apple will hopefully figure out that they are just embarrassing themselves with these kinds of legal shenanigans.

        Should the patent system be fixed to prevent thi

    • I haven't seen a "feature" this idiotic since Microsoft removed normal file name search and replaced it with a poor man's Google. Now I can't search for a file by the name I want, but it searches through all files on the whole god damned computer.

  • Did they license it, or is there more to this story?

    • by camperslo (704715)

      Didn't webOS use tech from Palm which bought Apple/Newton tech way back when?

    • Much as I like my Pre 3 (yes, I know I'm strange), the simple fact is that webOS isn't running on a phone line (Samsung S3 and Galaxy Nexus) that could well overtake the iPhone in world wide sales if Samsung can ramp up production enough, so even if it infringed Apple wouldn't care.

      This dispute is entirely about what will happen to the Apple share price if Samsung's higher end phones overtake Apple's sales. US shareholders don't seem to care about the world market, only the US one. Therefore, Apple executiv

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @02:37PM (#40577019)

    This is just the kind of software patent that really strikes fear into smaller developers, since it's a technique that comes to mind naturally (I've had search boxes that have done mixed kinds of searches for decades).

    I have never cheered "victories" even from companies I like, for any software patents... these truly are things that need to be abolished as patentable.

    At this point though, I do not think the international community will allow it unless we get some REALLY strong support from government...

  • Is there a feature with this automatic software push on an Android to get prompted if you want to install this or is it choice-less?
  • I would feel sorry for Android users, but then I remember that iPhone has not voice directions. Android does on Google Maps. iPhone does not. Allegedly Apple pys more in license fees to Google than Google gets from Android. We know that MS probably gets more from Android than Google does. Google seems to playing an aggressive game, which is looking like a rear action. Bing is becoming acceptable. Apple is going to fight hard on maps, and probably give features that Google will not. Google is a truste
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 07, 2012 @02:56PM (#40577167)

      Bing is becoming acceptable.

      Bwahahahahahah....*catches breath*....hahahahahahaha...when can I buy your DVD?

      • by Asic Eng (193332)

        Well Bing as a search engine is a joke. Bing maps is absolutely gorgeous, though. It's a shame they don't offer an Android app for it, because the bird's eye view is really nice, and it works in places (parks, trails, private roads) where Google street view doesn't. (Obviously I'm not buying an MS smartphone to use this, but if MS were to put their pathetic efforts in the mobile area to rest, and instead offer apps - that might actually work.)

    • iOS 6 brings turn by turn voice on their new, in-house map system.
  • by sensationull (889870) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @02:46PM (#40577089)

    We all love you really, now die in a fire!!!

  • by SpaceWiz (54904) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @02:57PM (#40577173)

    this TED talk.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/johanna_blakley_lessons_from_fashion_s_free_culture.html [ted.com]

    I think it's time to start calling technology utilitarian and start removing protections before this sector crashes...

  • ......as bad as the handset makers/carriers for Android phones are at getting updates out, most of these handsets will be obsolete by the time this 'update' gets pushed out.

    • Except that this case deals with the Galaxy Nexus, for which Google controls the updates directly.

      • by haus (129916)

        Fortunately for them, their business partners have established such a low level of success that they can do nothing and show that they have exceeded the industry standard.

  • patent thought (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JimboFBX (1097277) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @03:10PM (#40577249)

    Shouldn't the patent be on how it's done and not that it's done at all? That's like patenting the concept of a machine that seperates fibers from its seeds and not actually patenting the cotton gin itself.

  • Especially since the article in question doesn't use it. Apple didn't "force" Google to do anything, Google gave up a feature to avoid a patent fight. Not that the actual article is much better. I hate most of these stupid patents, but don't go around like Apple was whacking Google with a stick to remove a feature. Blame the judge for his ruling, if anything.
    And I don't even have an iPhone. I don't even have a smartphone.

  • "Samsung, with the help of Google, has been pushing out an over-the-air software update to make its phones worse."

    The connotation of "worse" is that it was already bad to begin with.

    • by Asic Eng (193332)

      The connotation of "worse" is that it was already bad to begin with.

      Fine it's not my native language, but come on: that's complete nonsense. How do you think "less good" is expressed?

  • A futile attempt to make Android worse than Apple. But a successful attempt to leave Apple's engineering reputation in tatters.

  • Prior art (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jmerlin (1010641) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @03:53PM (#40577599)
    Google Chrome and Firefox at the least, before the iPhone ever did it, allowed you to search your own local history AND the internet from the URL bar. Local searches showed up in the preview, but if you hit enter, it would pass the search onto your favorite browser. Software patents should all be invalidated, IMO.
  • by superwiz (655733) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @03:54PM (#40577613) Journal
    and it's being used against Google to stop them from selling phones. Yep. I agree. Apple really does not innovate. I mean, it takes quite a bit of imagination to come up with this argument.
  • how the hell does that NOT reflect exactly what Google Desktop already did - search locally and search internet in same results set?

    nevermind the obviousness of such an idea...

    but then again, it isn't THAT obvious given that I don't think i've ever actually searched my phone before except while it was mounted as a filesystem on some other O/S...

  • That's fine (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zebedeu (739988) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @05:26PM (#40578155)

    Just make it an US-only "update" and don't bring this bullshit to the rest or the world, where the patent system isn't (completely) torn to hell.

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @11:41PM (#40579961)

    Rotten Apple: Apple's lousy design patent lawsuits
    By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols | July 5, 2012 -- Updated 23:47 GMT (16:47 PDT)
    > Summary: If Apple continues to have its way it will be illegal to buy anything that looks like a tablet because it will infringe on Apple's “design” patent.
    > In the last couple of months a boycott Apple movement has started. It started as a protest about working conditions in Apple's Chinese partners factories. But the banning of the Galaxy Tab seems to have given it new life.
    http://www.zdnet.com/rotten-apple-apples-lousy-design-patent-lawsuits-7000000356/

    Apple Granted Patent for Head-Mounted Display
    By Christina BonningtonEmail Author July 3, 2012
    > Google’s been flaunting its Google Glass prototype left and right, but it may not be the only company getting into the head-up-display business. Apple was granted a patent for a head-mounted display apparatus on Tuesday.
    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/07/apple-patent-hud-display/

    Google Jellybean smokes Apple Siri
    By Joe Wilcox | July 7, 2012
    > But there's a strange twist here. Google removed important search functionality from Android 4.1 in response to US Patent 8,086,604, which Apple successfully used to gain preliminary injunctions against Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Nexus.
    http://betanews.com/2012/07/06/google-jellybean-smokes-apple-siri/

    Federal Court of Appeals denies Samsung’s stay request on Galaxy Tab ban
    Kevin Krause | Jul 6th 2012 at 4:30pm
    > After Samsung was denied a temporary lift of a ban on their Galaxy Tab 10.1 earlier in the week, the news isn’t getting much better. The US Court of Appeals has denied the Korean mobile manufacturers request for a stay on the ban issued by US District Judge Lucy Koh. With the ruling, Samsung’s only hope to get the tablet back on the US market is to reach some sort of licensing deal or settlement with Apple, an avenue that is reportedly being explored jointly with Google.
    http://phandroid.com/2012/07/06/federal-court-of-appeals-denies-samsungs-stay-request-on-galaxy-tab-ban/

    Android Win: Apple Blasted for Trolling, Sees EU Patents Decimated
    Jason Mick (Blog) - July 5, 2012 3:10 PM
    > "Obvious" patents should never have been granted, given prior art
    > Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) international quest to kill Android, not by competition, but by lawsuits hit a roadblock in the United Kingdom when a Judge ruled Apple's patents to swipe-to-unlock patents to be invalid due to obviousness and prior art.
    http://www.dailytech.com/Android+Win+Apple+Blasted+for+Trolling+Sees+EU+Patents+Decimated/article25104.htm

    Apple pulls out of EPEAT green registration, may not be able to sell computers to federal agencies
    By Steve Dent posted Jul 7th 2012 2:18AM
    http://www.engadget.com/2012/07/07/apple-pulls-out-of-epeat-green-registration/

    How Steve Jobs Fooled the Leader of the Free World and His Opponents
    In 2006 Samsung released the SGH-Z610, a phone that had a gesture based touchscreen, app drawer, front and rear facing cameras – the works.
    http://theworldwarrior.com/?p=614

    LG Prada
    The LG KE850, also known as the LG Prada,[1] is a touchscreen mobile phone made by LG Electronics. It was first announced on December 12, 2006.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LG_Prada

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