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Google sues to protect Android device makers from Apple-backed patent hell

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Update: This article produced a torrent of abuse, accusations and even some insight from commenters, John Gruber and others. I’ve responded further below.

Google(s goog) has filed a new lawsuit to challenge an Apple-backed consortium known as Rockstar that is using dubious patents to threaten its partners and customers in the mobile device industry.

In a complaint filed Monday in San Jose, Google claims that Rockstar’s patent campaign is taking aim at hundreds of California tech companies and that the litigation has “placed a cloud on Google’s Android platform,” threatening Nexus devices in particular.

The lawsuit amounts to an effort to shield ASUS and other companies that use the open source Android operating system from a legal extermination effort by Rockstar, which filed a wave of lawsuits in late October:

Among the myriad companies ensnared in Rockstar’s patent dragnet are customers and partners of Google who use the Android platform in their devices, including ASUS, HTC, Huawei, LG, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE.

Despite its cocky name, Rockstar is simply a corporate patent troll hatched by Google rivals — including Apple(s aapl), Microsoft(s msft) and BlackBerry(s rim) — after the rivals spent $4.5 billion ($2.5 billion from Apple) in 2012 for a trove of patents from Nortel, a long defunct Canadian telco company. Today, Rockstar employs once-proud Canadian engineers to help with the trolling operation. The filing says:

Rockstar produces no products and practices no patents. Instead, Rockstar employs a staff of engineers in Ontario, Canada, who examine other companies’ successful products to find anything that Rockstar might use to demand and extract licenses to its patents under threat of litigation.

The complaint also states that Rockstar’s trolling campaign has targeted more than 100 companies, and that Rockstar’s CEO has said that Facebook(s fb), LinkedIn(s lnkd) and every other tech company is infringing the old Nortel patents.

Such claims may seem absurd, and could speed calls to reform a dysfunctional patent system, but they also present a very real business problem for Android makers since the lawsuits mean an ongoing risk of injunctions and unpredictable jury verdicts.

Google appears to be especially concerned about the Nexus line of phones. It asks the court to declare that “the Nexus 5, Nexus 7, or Nexus 10 devices sold by Google directly or indirectly” don’t infringe seven patents that belong to Rockstar or to “MobileStar, ” another shell company that “was formed for litigation one day before Rockstar filed its lawsuits against Google’s customers.”

As for the patents, they relate to basic functions like “mobile hotspot functionality,”  “VPN management functionality” and “Messaging and Notification.”

It’s unclear, however, how far Google will get with its attempt to get a declaration that the patents don’t infringe.

In April, America’s patent appeals court ruled Cisco(s csco) couldn’t sue to protect its customers from patent infringements suits targeting customers that used its routers. This could create procedural obstacles in Google’s attempt to put brakes on the sprawling Android litigation.

Meanwhile, Rockstar has also expanded its troll campaign with new lawsuits against Cisco and the cable industry earlier this month. Such tactics may suggest that the troll company may be getting anxious about how to recoup the $4.5 billion its owners spent to create it.

This week, Bloomberg cited Rockstar sources who said the troll has had “little success in landing large licensing deals,” and that some of its patents are now up for sale — suggesting that companies are resisting Rockstar’s demands for protection money.

More broadly, a modicum of sanity may return to the patent system next year as the Supreme Court has announced it will review whether software patents should be eligible in the first place, and as Congress pushes forward with a law to rein in patent trolls.

Google’s complaint with some of the relevant bits underlined is below.

Update: here’s a crude annotation of some of the comments below, and my responses:

“Hey, Jeff, you’ve obviously been bought off by Google.”

A: This isn’t FOSSPatents. I don’t accept money, favors or anything else from the companies I write about and neither do any of my colleagues at Gigaom. We wouldn’t have any credibility if we did.

“This article is biased against Apple”

A: Yes, it is biased. It’s biased against grubby business tactics and, especially, against America’s broken patent system. Apple is not the worst offender; however, it’s a shame that Apple has succumbed to patent privateering and related tactics that are the hallmark of Microsoft and other companies whose innovative years are in the rear view mirror.

The Rockstar litigation will lead to a fortune in research dollars getting diverted to lawyers, waste-of-time depositions and parasitic patent exchanges.

“Google does the same thing”

A: Yes, Google bid on the Nortel patents and filed lawsuits based on the Motorola portfolio it acquired. But these acts were defensive tactics in response to the effort of Microsoft and others to game the broken patent system.

And unlike Apple, Google is promoting a saner patent system by donating intellectual property to create a litigation-free space for cloud developers. Companies like Twitter and RackSpace are also shaking up the status quo. Apple, on the other hand, is embracing IP maximalism that will help it in the short term but damage the innovation eco-system in the long-run. Google may turn into a patent troll one day, but for now it has resisted the impulse.

“But Apple invented the iPhone and Google stole it”

A: I don’t have an opinion on that. It’s a question for the gadget geeks. But for the purposes of this story — which is about Nortel patents — it’s irrelevant. The patent system is supposed to promote innovation; carving up the long dead carcass of Nortel to feed the lawyers doesn’t do this.

“Jeff, you’re a crank who doesn’t understand the patent system”

A: Maybe. But I’m not the only one. The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New York TimesArs Technica and the scholarly community are shrieking out for reform too.

Google Dec Action vs Rockstar

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161 Responses to “Google sues to protect Android device makers from Apple-backed patent hell”

    • Michael Jardeen

      How is he corrupt. Has he not disclosed that he works as a consultant in the industry? Perhaps it bothers you that he has a history of being spot on when it comes to seeing outcomes. I assume you think that because Microsoft/Nokia/Apple simply have a vastly higher rate of success in patent lawsuits he must be biased in their favor. Do you think that courts are being paid off too? Or maybe you and all the other FOSS haters missed the point that he is pro-patent reform and the fact that he actually uses an Android phone…thought not.

  1. artsytechlady

    Anyone with a brain knows that Microsoft and Apple BOTH copied Xerox’s Windows User Interface before some of you were even born and got away with it. I was using a Palm Pilot device for work in 2003 which allowed me to surf the internet wherever I was including a vacation in Hawaii. This was WAY before the iPhone was released in 2010. You, Rockstar fanboys, need to stop being so “hypocritical” when the companies you are defending are guilty of the same thing. Both Apple and Microsoft got away with their “copies” with no consequences for years. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, I wonder if karma is catching up with them. Both companies will be burning their bridges with consumers first, their own OEM partners, suppliers and customers. Suing will be cause them more ramifications than its worth over the long run. Check out the Taiwanese FTC penalizing Apple right now for unfair trade practices. HTC and the rest of the other OEM’s won’t allow these companies to force their hand without a significant sacrifice. Consumers like me will be not be motivated to buy products from Apple, Microsoft or other companies who seek to stifle innovation when they cannot compete with the current design and quality of their products. Have you seen what a Windows Phone interface looks like on a Samsung Phone? Not very appealing at all.

    • autigers1970

      You mean got away with it as in “Apple compensated IBM for the use of it?” I know that’s what you meant since you said “anyone with a brain.”

      “Of course, some things the Apple engineers saw were in fact invented by Xerox, including bitmapping and Ethernet. But the biggest thing Apple got out of the visit was the big-picture vision of how a networked graphical personal computer and printers might function. The second thing was a whole lot of pointers and shortcuts to the solution to problems solved by PARC researchers.

      But here’s the most important fact: Nothing was “stolen.”

      Whatever Apple got from those three days was bought and paid for as part of a fair, legal, above-the-table business deal between Xerox and Apple.

      At the time, Apple was still a year away from its IPO. Everybody wanted in. Apple was the hottest of hot companies. So Xerox and Apple made a deal: Apple would be granted 3 days of access to PARC in exchange for Xerox being allowed to buy 100,000 shares of Apple stock for $10 per share.”

      • Terry Dactol

        Thank you! But the second half of that story is MS didn’t pay for shit and got away with it. Steve learned, and vowed never to let that happen again and now Eric Schmidt is gonna pay.

        • macsimcon

          Microsoft only got away with copying MacOS due to Apple’s poorly-constructed contract with them. Things could have turned out quite differently had Apple’s lawyers done a better job.

          This is chess, not checkers. Competitors will take advantage of a strategic blunder.

      • artsytechlady

        Back in 2006, I was work in IT in Applications for a Distributor. I was having a discussion with my boss, the IT Director, what future applications we should plan for the company. One of the ideas I came up with was viewing company reports on a handheld device. This was WAY before the iPhone came out in 2010. Lo and behold, I find out a week later one of the ‘Finance’ guys talked about this same idea in a big company presentation to the whole company at headquarters. Was what this Finance guy did “unethical”? Yes. Could I file a patent or copyright to prevent him from stealing my idea in the office that would have protected me from him stealing my idea. No. So, although he legally stole my idea, I was the one screwed over. Just like the PARC researchers were screwed over. Just like Steve Jobs was screwed over. So, please, you Apple fanboys cut your ‘bias’.

        • oye – artsytechlady – yikes – if that is your definition of, “screwed over”, then maybe you should look at history or maybe even a dictionary (slangtionary?).

          You had a good ‘watercooler’ idea at work – with a coworker – who apparently ran with your little idea. I think your idea may have been off, though, because AFAIK, the iPhone came out in 2007… the iPad probably came out in 2010 – maybe that is what you were talking about?

          Apple – a major new company – back in the day (say 1977?) had no IPO but two geniuses in charge (probably a few more, but they were likely more modest)… Apple PAYS Xerox PARC so they can visit, see, examine what was done in the new field of personal/office computing (since before this time it was only/mostly large office computing or government computing on mainframes, big iron, unix, etc…).

          How much money did Xerox make from this transaction? Probably not as much as they could have – IF they had half a clue. I’m sure all the people at PARC had a clue, but Xerox clearly did not have a clue. Apple did (and does) … Microsoft and a few others also had a clue (Adobe being another one back in the day). Do you know the original mouse hand multiple buttons and was not invented by PARC? Did you know Apple had a GUI based computer before the Macintosh? AFAIK Xerox did try to sell and market the Alto and Star – do you have any idea what that system/setup cost?

          Do you have any idea how much better Xerox is with Apple, Adobe (postscript. InDesign, etc..) and even Microsoft? I mean they still sell fairly nice printers, printing systems and other things.

          And finally, much later (almost 8 years – IIRC) many of the ideas at Xerox PARC were used in another company. The owner of Pixar created a new computer company. Some may have called it the next best thing… and it was somewhat successful.

          So we go back to your way of thinking – or if Apple were your “buddy” at the watercooler/break room he (or she) would have at least given you credit and possibly even taken you out for a beer or wine or something – and all of your stock options would have gone – up, up, up and up – because of this.

      • artsytechlady

        Did Apple pay Palm for Internet Surfing on a mobile handheld device? Do us all a favor and put your brain to work. Show us the patent and the license deal Apple had with Palm before you start mouthing off instead of relying on someone else to do the research for you…Your comment about what makes a Mac a Mac is irrelevant. Just because someone provided that link to an article does not necessarily mean it was an ethical deal. The PARC researchers were screwed. It’s true I’m no patent expert but a lot of the patents I’ve been reading from Rockstar look very vague. That link confirms that Apple did, in fact copy the “concept” of a Xerox mouse as well as other “concepts”. It just didn’t copy it “exactly” like it. I was not aware of this “interpretation” of the Xerox deal since I was more familiar with the version in the movie “Pirates of Silicon Valley”. What I find very disturbing is all this self righteous ranting about Google copying the iPhone (iOS) when Apple did, in fact, copy concepts from Xerox and screwed over the PARC researchers in a “bum” deal. I just can’t stand the hypocrisy from self-righteous people who rail about unethical acts when they are, in fact, guilty themselves of committing such acts. I’ll bet if you ask the PARC researchers if they felt betrayed and that their ideas were “stolen” you would get the same reaction that Steve Jobs felt when Android was unveiled.

        • macsimcon

          Xerox PARC had no idea what to do with their technology. Worked on a lot of Stars, have you? They only sold around 25,000 of them.

          After looking at the Xerox Alto, Apple sold Xerox 100,000 shares at $10 a share a year before Apple went public, and when Apple did go public those shares were worth 16X what Xerox paid.

          If Xerox still owns those shares today, they’re worth $56M. I don’t consider it a “bum” deal to make 56X your investment over a 30 year period.

          • artsytechlady

            What would have been fair is that the PARC researchers were appropriately compensated for their ideas. That is, Apple paying licensing fees to use their ideas in their products. As history shows and you pointed out, that’s not how things turned out. Apple just should not act so self-righteous about the smartphone when there were prototypes existing by other companies like Palm before its release in 2010. Same with its fanboys.

            • macsimcon

              OK, so name just ONE Xerox official who complained about the deal’s fairness, about how a giant corporation such as Xerox was taken advantage of by a much smaller company, Apple.

              Please. ONE official.

            • artsytechlady

              OK, you got me. I can’t name ONE. But what I can name is the sum Apple paid Palm for it’s “worthless” patents. $10M. So iPhone was produced/introduced in 2007. Palm preceded Apple with smartphone concepts and apparently Steve Jobs thought so too.

            • Yet Xerox was compensated in a deal Xerox and Apple created for a mutual benefit. The truth is that there were many people at Apple advocating and doing things with a GUI based personal computer system… people at Xerox PARC and people at Apple. What Apple needed was to show the ‘big guy’ aka, Steve Jobs, what was going on … the Woz (Steve Wozniak) already knew what plug & play was (to some extent the old Apple IIs had this, iirc). Apple was looking to build the Apple III computer but many knew it was not enough.

              Where Apple had the advantage is they took what they saw at PARC and expanded on it – or even simplified some of this – in order to build (what they considered) a better computing/user experience … now the big guy was fired in 1985, but the legend lived on … until he came back. Either way, the scientist and engineers and PARC were compensated for the cutting edge work they did so long ago. Maybe some people feel they were not fairly compensated. Maybe – maybe not, yet even HP (mostly a calculator company at that point) had a shot at the Apple I/II … that Wozniak built.

            • macsimcon

              First, in 2013, Apple is on track to average more than $100M a DAY in profit. They have $140B in cash. And you think paying $10M in licensing eight months ago is a big deal to them? It’s literally an hour or two of their profit.

              Second, Apple didn’t steal the IP from Palm, they licensed it. If they were as bad as you say, they just would have stolen it and never licensed it, a la Google.

              Third, Steve had been dead for a year-and-a-half when Apple paid the $10M to which you’re referring. Given that this didn’t happen while he was alive, I question your assertion that “…Steve thought so too.”

        • artsytechlady – your comments are irrelevant. Apple is by no means perfect … sometimes Apple down right sucks, but I have rarely seen them behave in an unethical manner.

          Apple had a deal with Palm? Was that what the Newton was all about?

          Apple screwed over PARC? Good grief. Keep thinking that – IF it makes you happy.

    • Wrong. Xerox wasn’t the least bit interested in further pursing the project. Steve Jobs was the ONLY one interested in Parc’s work! Steve PAID to tour the shop, and gladly hired away engineers that Xerox was going to FIRE.

      Xerox parc computers were not even CLOSE to being ready for prime time. Worse than DOS Windows, they could not even PRINT. Xerox was (this is WIDELY documented) afraid of the computer business sidelining their bread-and-butter COPIER business.

      Only a CLUELESS Windows fanboy can POSSIBLY believe that Apple ‘stole’ from Parc. Apple picked up Parcs tossed-out torch and lit it. MICROSOFT COPIED the Mac however, you would have to be a complete moron to think otherwise. What DIDN’T they copy? All the ‘features’ from DOS. LOL!

    • airmanchairman

      Anyone with a Hippocampus (the seat of memory in the human brain) will recall that APPLE actually LICENSED the Xerox GUI for the princely sum of 1 million shares of Apple stock (which were hot cakes in those early days) and mightily improved it.

      § Xerox’s GUI was incapable of resizing or overlapping windows, or having windows of differing sizes occupying the desktop; Apple fixed that and went far beyond.

      § Xerox’s own workstation offerings came at a monstrous price of around $16,000, and could not operate without a server, which came in at a whopping $30,000 or more.

      The problem with these nouveau-riche Johnny-come lately companies awash with billions of cash is that they are unwilling to acknowledge others’ inventions or pay for the access to their technology. All the big boys (Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, Nokia etc) have hammered out cross-licensing agreements between themselves ages ago, and thus have avoided the crippling licensing fees plus punitive surcharges that Android vendors pay per device due to their infringement of Oracle, Microsoft, Nokia and Apple patents among many others.

      Rather than cough up, these young kingdoms are trying to change the patent laws of the USA via the Senate and Congress. Well, good luck with that, there’s only Europe, the Far East and the rest of the world to go after that.

      In the meantime, they’re going to have to COUGH UP for their “knock-off-Nigel” tendencies, period.

  2. So here is what Google’s lawsuit is in plain English: We and our business partners should be allowed to violate other people’s patents and they can’t even be allowed to sue us to find out if we truly are violating their patents.

  3. airmanchairman

    A lot of industry watchers have hitherto simply assumed that the late great Steve Jobs was uttering hyperbole in his description of a certain software platform as “a stolen product”, his intention to “go thermonuclear” and “spend every cent of $40 billion” to aggressively defend Apple’s smartphone technologies.

    Well, a careful totting up of the cost of acquisitions made so far and ongoing, either jointly or alone, and the litigations started across the globe would show clearly that Apple’s actions since that statement speak just as loudly and intensely as those words.

    In other words, hold on to your hats, people – the fecal missile just got thermonuclear…

    Merry Xmas, fanboys of every persuasion, and a Happy New Year…

  4. Vamien McKalin

    Mr Jeff John Roberts. do you believe we are all idiots? Do you think for a second that not a single reader of this article understands the patent system? The things you mentioned here is so ridiculous. But even more so is your claim to have practiced IP law. If this is the case, then you sir are a blatant fanboy and should be fired immediately for spreading foolishness.

    This article is read by thousands I’m sure. Thousands who are not misinformed in such a terrible way.

  5. FreedomLover

    MS “We are going to use the patent system to kill Linux and open source”
    Apple “We are going to use the patent system to kill Android”

    We know what this is all about. people who cant see these basic facts are just stuck in The Matrix. … Clueless.

  6. Maybe Nortel would still be a profitable company if Google had paid for all of their intellectual property that they stole. It’s just reaching out from the grave to make one last grab at the thieves that helped kill it.

  7. bobpantsspongesquare

    This is getting old. Why can’t companies just put on their big boy pants and come out with innovative products to compete rather than sue each other out of existence? This is like a pussified way of doing what guys like Rockefeller did back in the day. It’s less direct and much more under-handed.

    • macsimcon

      You make it sound like these companies just sue to stifle competition, but I think it’s fair to say that EVERYONE (OK, maybe not Oracle, unless you call slowly killing Java innovation) is innovating these days. Apple, Google, and Microsoft all have different approaches to mobile operating systems, and they are all selling products using those OSes.

      They’re all selling stuff, while at the same time trying to protect IP they’ve developed or bought.

      Yes, the patent system is broken, but while it remains that way, all the competitors are competing in every arena they can, including the courts. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

  8. Ian Betteridge

    Wow. Never thought that I’d see such a blatantly biased article on Gigaom. Nortel’s patents were widely-regarded as some of the best and most solid in the industry, which is why everyone – including Google – was bidding for them, and why when it lost Google spent an absurd sum on Motorola as a defensive move.

    What’s more, Google was invited to join the consortium which won the bidding – but declined:

    Perhaps you might want to amend your post to reflect this?

  9. “…using dubious patents…”

    Aren’t these the very same patents that Google tried to by for $4.4 billion from Nortel. Google considered them worth a whole lot of value a few months ago… now they are “dubious” because Google were outbid by an industry consortium that they refused to join.

    Rock star, is not Apple… Rockstar is an industry organization made up of competitors such as Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and others… This is not a conspiracy against Google or Android, it’s a conspiracy against intellectual property thieves. Google could have been part of the Rockstar consortium if they wanted, but they thought that they would outbid everyone else at the Nortel auction… and the gamble failed.

  10. Apple launches patent suit: “trolls!”

    Google launches patent suit: “valiant and brilliant defensive strategy!”

    Yeah you’re not a fanboy and this is “journalism”, not blog spam.

  11. Author bio: “Jeff … and practiced intellectual property and media law.”

    If you practiced IP law, then you have absolutely no excuse for misrepresenting patents or their nature, and the nature of the patent system.

    This means this article amounts to nothing more than an attempted fraud.

    I wonder how you can sleep at night, seriously. I mean, if you have no honor, if you don’t even have an interest in telling the truth, and your political ideology (which is anti-technology, anti-capitalist in the extreme) is so evil, that you will sell out your integrity for something so meager as an article like this… what kind of person does that make you?

    The mind boggles.
    – You call the patents “dubious”, yet google offered $3B for them. You have given no reason to believe they are dubious and the preponderance of evidence is to the contrary- including legal cases, the review by the patent office, and the review by due diligence teams at no less than 5 companies, INCLUDING google. Yet you call them dubious so casually. How can you tell such a lie with out a seconds thought?
    – “Rockstar is simply a corporate patent troll hatched by Google rivals” — Frankly dishonest. “Troll” is what you call a NPE. None of the companies named are NPEs. Further, Google was invited to join the consortium but declined. Your calling it “hatched by google rivals” implies that they did so to go after google, which is simply a lie.

    There are many more, of course. But it is clear that the truth is of no consequence to you in your campaign to rationalize googles violations of other peoples intellectual property.

    So, I ask again, how can you sleep at night?

    Have you managed to delude even yourself into thinking that violence against the innocent is not evil, and therefore, you’re on the side of good? And if so, do you by any chance have a below average IQ? Or a dysfunction that prevents critical thinking?

    I really cannot understand it. Maybe you just think your readership is really, really stupid?

  12. This article is frankly dishonest. It is nothing more than a politically motivated hit piece, written by someone who clearly has zero knowledge or understanding of the patent system (and I’m being generous, because if he did know anything, then his false statements would be lies)… for the purpose of trying to white wash Google’s crime of shipping counterfeit iPhones.

    Google is the patent troll here, having sued Apple (via its Motorola subsidiary) many years ago for “violations” of patents Apple was willing to license (and which google had promised to license) on FRAND terms.

    Google started the patent war, by being the first troll. They also started the “patents need to be reformed” movement, whose sole purpose is to let android off the hook for stealing Apple’s work.

    That Gigaom would publish such an article shows a serious lack of integrity. I hold Om personally responsible for this, and will remind him of it quite loudly at the next public appearance he makes.

  13. I see very, very obvious bias, Mr. Jeff John Roberts; are you even trying?

    Dubious patents? Trolll? Based on your fantasy that Android is both free and open?

    Not buying it.

    Google offered PI billion for same. They lost.

    Sucks to be them.

    • It’s funny how, Apple being a company that makes hundreds of millions of devices is called a “troll”, but then you point out that google is trolling (by refusing to honor FRAND agreements, for instance) the claim is they can’t be a troll because they make devices. (Which tehy only do after buying motorola.)

      The apple haters are nothing if not consistently hypocritical.

  14. I don’t see how Google really has much of chance here. They are a large, high tech company with lots of money. They have enough engineers and lawyers to know whether or not they are infringing on a patent or not. Regardless, how large or small, infringement is illegal. If google (or any other company) can’t come up with their own technical solution why in the world can’t they try to license use of the patent. Sure, there may be a number of patents that are small or petty, but why not arbitrate them before breaking the law.

    • The thing is you don’t have to patent a specific technological solution. Neithe Apple or Google has infringed by stealing code or what have you.
      What you can patent with the current patent system is general ideas. Like Microsoft getting the patent for double-clicking. Apple’s patent for sliding your finger across the screen to unlock it.
      You patent “sending messages between two phones” not the sms protocoll. Which means you now own the patent that is needed for skype, snapchat, facebook messanger, regular sms, textsecure – you name it.
      And on top of that you don’t even have to be the person who originally got the patent, you can just buy it and the “invention” is yours to hang over everyone elses heads.

      This. Holds. Technology. Back.

  15. Laughing_Boy48

    Google is a search engine and ad click company. They deliberately stole Apple’s iOS IP to create a free OS to intentionally hinder Apple’s mobile hardware business and disrupt the entire mobile industry at that time. Rockstar should go directly after Google’s mobile products (the Nexus line) and teach Google a lesson in fair play. If it’s OK for you to step on our toes and then it’s OK for us to step on your toes. I doubt Google would appreciate Apple building a search engine business simply to put a crimp in Google’s search engine business.

      • I don’t know what do *you* call someone who makes an insightful, factually correct comment?

        Google is just asking to be sued here, and google has massive liability. Rockstar has no potential liability here, and a lot of patents that google is infringing.

        Legitimate patents.

        I guess when all you’ve got is blind mindless hatred, you fall back on adhominem.

        • tmaspoopdek

          Google was building Android before Apple publicly released iOS, so no, this guy didn’t contribute anything at all to the conversation. The point of this whole debate is that Rockstar has patents that they don’t make any money with except by suing people, and that’s fucked up. Patents exist so that inventors can make their money back on their inventions, not so people can buy them up and use them to fuck other people out of huge sums of money.

          • Liam Stubbs

            Yes, they were building Android before iOS. Pre-iOS, though, they were building it as a rip-off of Blackberry. After Steve Jobs got up on stage and showed off the iPhone, Google scrapped a lot of the existing Android work and set to work on making it more like iOS. That’s why early Android phones still had physical keyboards and rollerballs. Y’know, like all pre-BB10 Blackberry phones had.

            As good as Android is, it started out riding on the coattails of what was the biggest phone brand in the world, then jumped to the hot new thing before release.

            And before you ask for a source,

          • LOL, there are entire books debunking this insane Fandroid talking point, but you guys still try to use it.

            Android is nothing more than a reverse engineered, iOS. A copy. Get over it.

        • somebody u know

          You should just stop commenting with your stupid comments. Your trying to defend apple with your OPINIONS when everybody else knows the FACTS. It don’t take a genius to see the apple and Microsoft to companies that Google has been dominating are just pissed. They can’t compete with Google, Google is taking up all there market share so what do they do? They team up like little kids to during Google. If you have to sue for something like pinch to zoom that shows how desperate you are. Google should sue the pants off apple for taking so many features from android. I got facts to back up what I’m saying looking for yourself. You should just shut up because your just a apple fanboy defending a company that has turn into nothing but trolls

          • macsimcon

            Apple is THE most profitable smartphone maker. Now, it’s true that Android has a much larger share of the market, but Google doesn’t make jack from that.

            The only two companies making a profit in smartphones are Apple and Samsung, and Apple is making the lion’s share of it.

            You don’t have to believe me, just do a few searches and see for yourself.

            So, if Apple is sucking all the profit out of the market, just how long are all those Android phone makers going to last?

  16. Tom Hubina

    Apple / Microsoft strategy:

    Push the patent system as far as possible … past what any sane person would consider the breaking point.

    One of two things happen:
    1. The patent system remains broken, and they make a ton of money
    2. The patent system is substantially reformed to prevent this nonsense and they can save millions (billions) on fending off the patent trolls coming after them and all their partners.

    Basically, it’s win/win. Personally, I’m hoping for the latter as it’s better for the industry as a whole.

    Granted, even if they’re not doing it on purpose, the more out of hand this stuff gets the more pressure there is to reform. Even if they’re just greedy bastards, I hope they push it to absurd lengths so the politicians have no choice but to clean this mess up.

    • The problem with your argument is that it is based on a false premise.

      Apple has been using the patent system as it was intended, patenting legitimate, novel inventions.

      The idea that they are being “insane” is a rationalization from those who dont’ want to admit that Google found itself behind in smartphones so it just stole the technology it needed to catch up.

      Rather than admit that, they pretend like Apple never invented anything.

      Which is pretty stupid, if you think about it.

      But then, these are Apple hater,s they really don’t seem to care about the facts, history, logic, etc.

      • You’re saying this like Apple actually invented all of these things. You’re missing out on some of the patents they sued for:

        * Skeumorphism
        * Messaging and Notifications
        * Rounded corners on a hand-held telphony device
        * Pinch-to-zoom (no, they did not invent that)

        And a lot of others. Get facts straight before you post.

      • Tom Hubina

        I agree, Apple (and Microsoft) has used the patent system as intended for ages now. They’ve even come to the aid of developers in trying to block a patent troll that was targeting apps that used (IIRC) In-App Purchaes.

        The big guys like Microsoft and Apple have gigantic patent portfolios that in the past have provided a form of protection from litigation (most lawsuits were settled and included a cross-licensing agreement). They are also a source of significant revenue, which is why they’re so wary of patent reform. They don’t want the billions they’ve invested in IP to suddenly vaporize.

        To switch tactics at this stage and be part of a consortium that uses NPEs to target others caught me a bit by surprise. The biggest difference between this situation and the normal troll nonsense is that everyone knows who’s behind it.

        And there in lies the rub. The old strategy of sueing, having some money change hands, and striking a cross-licensing deal is dead in the presence of NPEs.

        I read a few days ago that NPEs are now involved in 65% of patent related lawsuits, up from 5% a couple of years ago. The problem is getting larger very very quickly … I think everyone sees that reform is coming. It has to.

        So … Is the consortium trying to extract as much cash as possible before reform comes, or are they intentionally adding to the fire to make it even more obvious how messed up things are? I’m sure it’s the first, but I like to think it could be the second :)

    • Sean Davis

      You are either confused by the spin of one party or you’re mindlessly taking their side. And by the way as oppose to the patent troll in question Motorola is an active manufacturer of consumer technology, so get your facts straight.

      • Google bought Motorola when it did because the Motorola CEO with support from Carl Icahn wanted to juice the sales price by threatening patent infringement against many of the Android OEM’s.

        It worked.

        Google got a second tier manufacturer on the way down, and so far, almost no valuable patents for $12B.

      • Sad that your side can’t make an argument beyond ad hominem.

        You call Apple and Microsoft trolls? Apple invented the smartphone. They are obviously “operating…as a business”. Microsoft has been shipping phone software since before google has been in business.

        So, clearly reality is warped by whatever you think is good for google, and you don’t have the integrity to simply make arguments about the issue based on facts.

        No, you call people “troll” as if that reflects on them… the converse is true.

          • macsimcon

            OK, maybe it’s a mistake to say that Apple “invented the smartphone.” I was using a Palm Treo long before I bought an iPhone.

            I wouldn’t call Apple an INVENTOR. Apple is an INNOVATOR.

            Your linked video misses this point completely, basically calling Apple an integrator, not an innovator. I think that’s a difference without a distinction.

            Apple holds many patents on its inventions, but they’re largely for features, not complete products.

            The GUI, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad were not inventions. They were innovations of existing products. Xerox wasn’t selling the Star. All in one computers didn’t sell as well as the iMac. The Archos and the Rio weren’t great sellers either. Mainstream consumers didn’t buy the Treo, geeks did. Microsoft’s tablet offerings never sold enough units to maintain viability.

            Yes, I’m equating large sales with innovation, but there’s a reason stuff catches on and becomes popular, and more often than not it’s because it’s good. Now, that may not always be true, but that’s the yardstick we’ve got. Would anyone argue that Windows was an innovation compared to DOS? I wouldn’t, and I’ve been an Apple customer since 1988.

            Apple looked at what was out there, and they made something that they thought was better. This is the company’s modus operandi, they always do this, it’s nothing new.

            I would argue that the App Store was an actual invention, and that the iTunes Store was an innovation.

            If we’re to believe Chris DeSalvo as he is quoted in “Dogfight” (I know Chris, and he’s no fanboy, having worked at both Apple and Google), Google started over again on their smartphone designs after the iPhone came out.

            Doesn’t that suggest that they copied the iPhone, and there’s some validity to Apple’s ire, and lawsuits? I mean, where there’s smoke, there’s fire…

      • So which is worse using SEPs to attack Apple or Rockstar whose participants are actively manufacturing products.

        Yes ripping off Apple patents by android of google is ok, right?

    • Sean Davis

      Dear shill,

      Google was bidding Ï€ billion dollars to inflate the price of the worthless patents so they would become an expensive liability for “Rockstar”.

      Merry Christmas.

      • “Your Honor”.

        “We bid PI Billions just to run up the price”

        It seems on the surface like a promising defense, but do you think the Court will buy it?

        My own opinion is that Google would be screwed, but, fortunately, you aren’t one of Google’s lawyers.

      • If the patents are so worthless, why is google so scared of them that they are pre-emptively suing?

        Reality, is, google has been violating patents constantly, while simultaneously suing everyone for “violating” FRAND patents that they refused to license under FRAND terms.

        Google is the troll here– refusing to honor FRAND agreements, suing Apple, and everyone else.

        • The article argues “Such claims […] present a very real business problem for Android makers since the lawsuits mean an ongoing risk of injunctions and unpredictable jury verdicts.”

        • Not even a little bit true. You need to do a fact check before you post crap like this.

          The reality is that the lawsuit involving the FRAND patents was a motorola lawsuit that was set in motion long before Google bought them. Did they follow through with it? Yes, but it is likely because the investment was already at a point where it would not be financially smart to back out. Patent lawsuits are not cheap to put together.

          Meanwhile, Apple has been involved in more lawsuits than any other tech company in the last ten years and Microsoft has been extorting, yes extorting android OEM’s with patents that relate to legacy file systems that are barely relevant.

          If this proves anything it proves how broken the patent system is, allowing a group of corporations to buy patents with the sole intention of using them to waste the time of the courts and hurt competition which, regardless of your opinion, is bad for consumers.

          Google is 100% in the right on this. They are resisting an incredibly obvious troll. It is also worth mentioning that the only devices named in the suit are android devices even though devices running other operating systems violate them as well. In other words, windows and windows phone have been conveniently left out while operating under the pretense that they are not microsoft. This is unethical and I hope this forces widespread patent reform.

        • somebody u know

          I made a account just so I can call you on your BS! You are either trolling just like apple or you are completely stupid and don’t know what you’re talking about. All of your comments haven’t been nothing but fanboy comments. I don’t know about this Google vs apple war but I do know enough to know that everything you have been saying is false and I guarantee you you can’t provide a link to back up your OPINIONS. Everything you have said is something I hear from fanboys not people who actually know about Apple’s patent trolling. It don’t take a genius to see how apple is the one trolling and suing everybody. Do some research because you don’t know a darn thing