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Microsoft, Apple and Others Launch Huge Patent Strike at Android 476

New submitter GODISNOWHERE writes "Nortel went bankrupt in 2009. In 2011, it held an auction for its massive patent portfolio. The winners of the auction were Apple, Microsoft, Sony, RIM, and others, who bought the patents for $4.5 billion as a consortium named Rockstar Bidco. At the time, many people speculated those patents would be used against Google, who bid separately but lost. It turns out they were right. Rockstar has filed eight lawsuits in federal court targeting Google and Android device manufacturers. 'The complaint (PDF) against Google involves six patents, all from the same patent "family." They're all titled "associative search engine," and list Richard Skillen and Prescott Livermore as inventors. The patents describe "an advertisement machine which provides advertisements to a user searching for desired information within a data network. The oldest patent in the case is US Patent No. 6,098,065, with a filing date of 1997, one year before Google was founded. The newest patent in the suit was filed in 2007 and granted in 2011. The complaint tries to use the fact that Google bid for the patents as an extra point against the search giant.'"
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Microsoft, Apple and Others Launch Huge Patent Strike at Android

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 01, 2013 @09:01AM (#45299129)

    Wouldn't it be cooler if the summary was a wiki?

  • Re:wow. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 01, 2013 @09:03AM (#45299139)
    Google were offered to be a part of the consortium but chose to bid on their own instead.
  • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Friday November 01, 2013 @09:04AM (#45299147)
    Of course Google can go wrong, but they certainly didn't screw up Android. Certainly not to the level of being forced to delete inconvenient posts from their discussion forums []
  • Go nuclear (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Friday November 01, 2013 @09:08AM (#45299173) Homepage Journal
    Google must have more than a few basic patents too, just all of block them in most of their products on internet/mobile and bring the whole industry to an halt until the legal system regarding patents stop being so badly screwed.
  • by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Friday November 01, 2013 @09:18AM (#45299273)

    Expensive for Apple in that it would publicize the true situation? They weren't dealing with the problems in a manner acceptable to most users.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 01, 2013 @09:26AM (#45299351)

    Also the companies being sued have their own war chests of patents. MS, and Apple are about to end up with a large gang on them. Many of the ones they are suing are the same ones who sell them parts for their computers. They are the same ones who made their phones/computers in the past. MS is in a bad position as those same companies could say 'you know what your computer business is doing rather poorly anyway we will just go make other stuff oh by the way the patents we cross licensed? Yeah that ends with the exit clause in the contract'. Apple could find itself in a hard spot for a few key bits of its infrastructure parts.

    What will this end up with? Everyone paying 2-5 dollars more per phone.

    Also if they are going to go after search (which it looks like they are). Google may have 1 or 2 patents on that too. MS is in a bad position here. Apple has nothing really to lose.

    It may end up with google swallowing up some other company's. Just to get more patents to fight with. Such as a broacomm or qualcomm. Coming up with 130 billion is not unheard of anymore (see verizion).

  • by ausekilis ( 1513635 ) on Friday November 01, 2013 @09:26AM (#45299353)
    I was going to leave it at "Don't innovate, litigate!" but then realized there's more to this.

    We all know Steve Job's hated android with a passion. It is still the iPhones biggest competition. They noticed that an open source platform, with it's hundreds/thousands of contributers is going to move and adapt much more quickly than whatever team they can afford to pay. Apple has a great think tank (though not as good with the passing of St. Jobs), but even they can't come up with something so fresh and new that the legion of android wouldn't be able to build a competitor rapidly... much more rapidly than their annual "yes, but this iDevice is 5% shinier!".

    At first MS had the iPhone hate due it it whipping the pants off their Windows Mobile nonsense. They too see that a competitor has a massive market share, and their own offerings (with sub-par app choices) just can't compete. They still don't get that people use their phones in different ways than computers and their vendor lock-in with "yes, but we have office!" (on the surface/RT at least) just isn't going to get all those young adults/teens/preteens hot and bothered about Windows phone.

    Then we can take a step back and look at what the competition is really like. Apple with their $600 "but it's shiny" iPhone and walled garden with plenty of apps. MS, with their handful of Windows Phone devices and (by comparison) tiny app market for reasonable prices, or Android that has plenty of apps, is more customizable (for those that do), and is cheaper to produce due to no licensing fees.

    The market has spoken for itself, the "little guys" have run out of ideas to attract the populous, so now they are lashing out at their competitor. Little do they realize that the whole Apple/Samsung campaign tarnished that once golden sheen of Apple's doors. We can only hope that something like the Streisand effect kicks in and a negative public image for companies behaving like children starts becoming a deterrent for these kinds of tactics. Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of Google and their constant data mining on everything, but given the choices, I'd rather go with Android than the Reality Distortion Market or Embrace, Extend, Extinguish.

  • by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Friday November 01, 2013 @09:38AM (#45299479)

    How do you come to that conclusion? Seriously - no snark. I'm not familiar w/ MMI's patent portfolio in detail, but they did a lot of important tech work on cell phones. Their business downfall was, like Nokia's, about choosing the wrong cell/smart phone fashion trends, rather than any technical shortcomings.

    Meanwhile, what kind of important patents has Apple, for example, come up with? Rounded corners on rectangles? Small wonder they lose patent suits, and an obvious reason for them to buy into this patent extortion racket.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday November 01, 2013 @09:50AM (#45299643) Homepage

    I always believed that the purpose of intellectual property to was to better ensure that the creator(s) of the thing had exclusive rights to their creations, ensuring their investments of blood, sweat and tears has a better chance of a return. But that's not what happens is it? No. What we have is an industry. And with any industry, we experience dehumanizing effects.

    What's the solution? We can write an increasingly complex set of laws to address specific predatory behaviors such as patent trolling. That won't solve the problems of giant industry players from fighting each other like giant Japanese monsters on the streets of Tokyo. The real solution?

    Disallow all intellectual property transfers. If you didn't create it, you can't own it. Then it reverts to its original purpose and intent and virtually removes all industrial activity. But what happens when the creators, authors and companies die? Does all that valuable intellectual property just vanish in a puff of smoke? Well? Yes. I would hope so.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Friday November 01, 2013 @10:14AM (#45299881) Homepage Journal

    Apple forums openly talk about problems in their products and fixes.

    Apple is well-known to bury data. The piece of data I personally noticed regarded data corruption in Rev.1 B&W G3 macs. They had an article in the TIL which told you to buy an ATA card or FWB toolkit and slow down your drives. When they folded the TIL into the KB they pulled in articles before and after it, but they dropped this one. They lie, cheat, and deceive; that's what they do.

  • Re:Patent hell (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Friday November 01, 2013 @10:44AM (#45300221)

    Google has an excellent opportunity here to abolish software patents altogether. All they have to do is nothing. Let the courts rule against them. Pay the fine and close the business. Completely. Larry and Sergei walk away with a cool $50 billion. The main losers will be search users and those dependent on search to be found. In other words, everybody. You want to kill Google? Fine. Let's do it. Let's see how long the world can survive without it.

  • by Khyber ( 864651 ) <> on Friday November 01, 2013 @11:58AM (#45300897) Homepage Journal

    Everybody better let Rockstar Games know that you think they're assholes for this crap.

    Cause that trademark and brand damage, watch the real Rockstar file a huge suit in return regarding trademarks.

  • by Mr. Bad Example ( 31092 ) on Friday November 01, 2013 @12:11PM (#45301027) Homepage
    Ironically, there's prior art on that observation from over two thousand years ago:

    At last I went to the artisans, for I was conscious that I knew nothing at all, as I may say, and I was sure that they knew many fine things; and in this I was not mistaken, for they did know many things of which I was ignorant, and in this they certainly were wiser than I was. But I observed that even the good artisans fell into the same error as the poets; because they were good workmen they thought that they also knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom [...]

    --Socrates in Plato's Apology

  • by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Friday November 01, 2013 @01:56PM (#45302189) Homepage

    No, you're buying into some propaganda lies. Sorry to say.

    When it comes to patents, all they agreed to was a willingness to license, and not to freeze anybody out. It in no way changes their ability to enforce their patents, as the appeals courts keep reminding everybody.

    Certainly having contributed to the standards is drawing out the legal battles and making them more expensive.

    Just because companies should have to give up their IP claims to have their tech be part of a standard, doesn't mean that that is what hardware vendors agreed to. Because they didn't.

  • by Sun ( 104778 ) on Friday November 01, 2013 @03:57PM (#45304027) Homepage

    After the trial, in which Apple won $1bn, Samsung announced a price hike on chips it was selling Apple, estimated to cost Apple $8bn. In addition, Samsung announced it would not continue selling Apple chips altogether past a certain date.

    Thing is, Samsung has Fab technology that's hard to replace. There is a reason Apple chose Samsung to begin with. It's not a simple case of "oh, we'll just buy from someone else".


Forty two.