It’s always amusing to hear Google rant against patents and pretty much anyone who dares compete with them. In their latest salvo they explain that all of those pesky patents are bogus and are being used just to hurt them because they’re so good. The real irony comes out the end when a company who is under scrutiny for anticompetitive practices throughout the world is “encouraged” that the DOJ is looking into the use of patents as an anticompetitive practice. Of course, to fight this they intend to buy bogus patents themselves. And then the kicker “Unless we act, consumers could face rising costs for Android devices — and fewer choices for their next phone.” I mean, it would be ridiculous for a company who is infringing on other patents to have to pay for those and then pass the cost on to the buyer…just obscene…

Here it is in full for you amusement:

When patents attack Android

8/03/2011 12:37:00 PM

I have worked in the tech sector for over two decades. Microsoft and Apple have always been at each other’s throats, so when they get into bed together you have to start wondering what’s going on. Here is what’s happening:
Android is on fire. More than 550,000 Android devices are activated every day, through a network of 39 manufacturers and 231 carriers. Android and other platforms are competing hard against each other, and that’s yielding cool new devices and amazing mobile apps for consumers.
But Android’s success has yielded something else: a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.
They’re doing this by banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the “CPTN” group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the “Rockstar” group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them; seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Mobile; and even suing Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it.
A smartphone might involve as many as 250,000 (largely questionable) patent claims, and our competitors want to impose a “tax” for these dubious patents that makes Android devices more expensive for consumers. They want to make it harder for manufacturers to sell Android devices. Instead of competing by building new features or devices, they are fighting through litigation.
This anti-competitive strategy is also escalating the cost of patents way beyond what they’re really worth. Microsoft and Apple’s winning $4.5 billion for Nortel’s patent portfolio was nearly five times larger than the pre-auction estimate of $1 billion. Fortunately, the law frowns on the accumulation of dubious patents for anti-competitive means — which means these deals are likely to draw regulatory scrutiny, and this patent bubble will pop.
We’re not naive; technology is a tough and ever-changing industry and we work very hard to stay focused on our own business and make better products. But in this instance we thought it was important to speak out and make it clear that we’re determined to preserve Android as a competitive choice for consumers, by stopping those who are trying to strangle it.
We’re looking intensely at a number of ways to do that. We’re encouraged that the Department of Justice forced the group I mentioned earlier to license the former Novell patents on fair terms, and that it’s looking into whether Microsoft and Apple acquired the Nortel patents for anti-competitive means. We’re also looking at other ways to reduce the anti-competitive threats against Android by strengthening our own patent portfolio. Unless we act, consumers could face rising costs for Android devices — and fewer choices for their next phone.
Posted by David Drummond, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer

16 COMMENTS

  1. You know how the first step of Microsoft’s shakedown procedure is coerce the target to sign a nondisclosure agreement? What’s with these NDAs, you know? What’s the big secret, right? They’re just protecting their intellectual property, nothing to see here, what’s the big deal

    I think that has something to do with their knowing that this whole operation of theirs, this vast-scale predatory for-profit shakedown litigation involving various forms of patent misuse, bullying and possibly fraud with multiple judgments against them affirming that characterization, stinks.

    Perhaps it is Google’s position in deciding to post this is that the more the public is aware of it, the less likely Microsoft is to persist in engaging in it either by choice or by law enforcement.

    As far as it being some sort of a call to arms with the bit about it being time to act or whatever, it’s kind of vague. These aren’t the first patents they’ve acquired, with the patents they may be more equipped to make it harder for Microsoft to rape their partners for a living, and they have yet to start a fight with someone using their patents.

    Microsoft’s free to write back really articulately and do interviews as they did when they stole Google’s search results and got called out on it, but if Google’s goal here is to get more eyes on the situation, good move. The last time Microsoft’s shakedown czar Horatio did that, the public reaction, even on Microsoft’s own website, was quite interesting.

  2. You’re doing way too much Doug… honestly.
    Oh and this whole thing involves RIM, and Sony Errickson too. and I might be mistaken, but doesn’t SE now have an android device out too??

  3. I suppose they do. Android’s seductive.

    Often Microsoft apologists when defending this repugnant activity say something along the lines of don’t hate the player, hate the game. What Google just did may have gotten a hatred snowball rolling down a hill which is aiming toward a valley of the game and the thugs who grind there.

    If you’ve been watching the news recently, this comes on the heels of the Obama administration mentioning something about patent reform after the tea party failed to drive the country to go bankrupt. Real patent reform. Wouldn’t that be lovely. Every player in that game could use allies.

  4. The real question is did David Drumond of Google (along with anyone who may have vetted this) write Windows Mobile on purpose?

    And if Windows Phone is not Windows Mobile, why isn’t this Windows Phone 1 and 1.1? What’s with the 7 and 7.5? What, does Google have the patent on the unexotic ordering of the numbers (or at least up to one googol)? Seriously, why start way up there?

    If Microsoft put half the energy into marketing WP as they did into extorting, bullying and suing companies for going with Android … well, nevermind, it would still be an abysmal failure actually.

  5. Let’s flip this around and pretend that Microsoft’s patents are legit. Why are they not collecting whatever they want ($15?) from all of those who distribute it (Google?) for each copy of Android that ends up in a consumer’s hand, rather than cornering little guys who figure they’re better off just signing the NDA? Why are they only getting scraps from a fraction of Android distributions? Alternatively, why don’t they cease and desist everyone’s ass and shut the whole thing down? Don’t they have lawyers? Oh what, is patent litigation not so clear cut when your patents are bullshit, your methods of acquisition of those patents are bullshit and your applications of them are bullshit?

    WinPho made maybe a couple hundred million in revenue for its twelfth first year. Hey, not bad! Now if Microsoft would just do the right thing and stand up for its research and patents, at the reasonable price of $15 for a license to use all of Microsoft’s intellectual property per copy Microsoft would have made a cool three billion dollars on top of that awesome couple hundred million. They could probably have jacked that up to six billion if not more. As a shareholder, wtf, Microsoft?

    Why didn’t they do that?

  6. Guess who once appealed to the public and published this baw piece:

    Government regulatory actions and court decisions may hinder our ability to provide the benefits of our software to consumers and businesses, thereby reducing the attractiveness of our products and the revenues that come from them. New actions could be initiated at any time, either by these or other governments or private claimants, including with respect to new versions of Windows or other Microsoft products. The outcome of such actions, or steps taken to avoid them, could adversely affect us in a variety of ways, including:
    We may have to choose between withdrawing products from certain geographies to avoid fines or designing and developing alternative versions of those products to comply with government rulings, which may entail removing functionality that customers want or on which developers re
    The rulings described above may be cited as a precedent in other competition law proceedings.

    True story right here. Did you know that Apple once sued Microsoft in the mid nineties for knowingly stealing several thousand lines of Quicktime source? Yeah, they were working on their Video for Windows, figured they’d cut some corners. Whatever, it happens. But Microsoft’s response? No, not to apologize and stop. Rather, threaten to pull Microsoft Office for Mac. Not only did they use that to leverage an end to the lawsuit over a little code theft between friends, they went on to use cripling Mac adoption by pulling Office as a key part of their leverage to get Apple to use IE as the default Mac browser over Netscape as well as buying some of Apple’s stock to smooth things over.

    In an eventual shocking turn of events, Apple didn’t have much trouble making their own browser that, unlike IE, to this day is gaining share — and even supports multiple Windows platforms. IE? Why would you use IE if you weren’t introduced to it in the first place from having paid your Microsoft tax? The demand for IE just sort of fizzles out, kind of the way it’s been doing on Microsoft’s platforms, sort of catching up where it naturally belongs, IE’s ultimate destination on the Mac today (/dev/null).

    Do you have any idea how many small companies have filed suit against Microsoft for patent abuse and predatory practices? Me neither, but I’m going with “a lot.” Unlike you Redmond poofters, I bet maybe one or two of them had merit. One or two.

    That’s almost impressive on Microsoft’s part, that Apple story.

  7. Given that Google takes exception to Microsoft’s history of patent abuse, maybe they had more interest in not doing this with Microsoft than they did having any access to the portfolio. Google buys patents to snuff out lawsuits, Microsoft does the opposite. Maybe Google didn’t want to spend too many billions on these patents.

    Given all the patent lawsuits by Microsoft against their partners, considering an invitation to get in bed together sounds more complicated that most such invitations that I’ve made in my life. Perhaps Microsoft knew this when they made this rhetorical offer? And didn’t these two portfolio bids go down way after Microsoft started their Android racket?

    I’m under the impression that if you’re a big asshole company it’s a no-no to stockpile patents for anticompetitive purposes. Anticompetitive behavior, including illegal varieties, is riddled throughout Microsoft’s history. I believe this email has more relevance to you, WMPU and Twitter than it may to the feds. Some bigger-picture shit going down.

    Kudos to these guys for being so friendly in their correspondences in spite of one of them being part of a gang of figurative rapists.

    Tl;dr, the offer was obviously rhetorical.

  8. It’s hilarious watching Doug cry like a bitch over Microsoft and Apple sticking it to his precious Google.

    “If Microsoft put half the energy into marketing WP ”

    If Google didn’t steal others patented technology when building their shitty Android OS, maybe they wouldn’t be in this situation. But that’s how Google operates. They think they can steal whatever and it’s okay. Well screw Google.

    “I think that has something to do with their knowing that this whole operation of theirs, this vast-scale predatory for-profit shakedown litigation involving various forms of patent misuse, bullying and possibly fraud with multiple judgments against them affirming that characterization, stinks.”

    LOL! Obviously not, since these Android OEMs have willingly signed patent licensing agreements with Microsoft. These OEMs have lawyers as well. You can damn sure they aren’t paying Microsoft a thing if they didn’t think the patents were legitimate. The fact that Google has left it’s OEMs to dangle in the wind is pathetic. At least with WP7’s licensing fee, it includes full protection from Microsoft against patent litigation. That’s how responsible companies operate.

    “I’m under the impression that if you’re a big asshole company”

    Google is the biggest asshold company on the planet.

    Oops! I’ve created a Doug Simmons style, long-winded post. Sorry folks. Nobody’s going to read your long-winded rants Doug, because they’re not even coherent most of the time. It’s just a Google sycophant continually crying out “they’re beating up on my baby” bullshit. That’s all your posts amount to.

  9. Tell me this Doug. If Google only cared about the Nortel patents for defensive purposes, why didn’t they let RPX join them in their bid? RPX is a company whose stated goal is to use patents for defensive purposes, and to defeat patent trolls. I might also add that RPX included Android OEMs. I thought Google wanted to help their OEMs in these patent litigations. Lip service. Google is going to help anyone but themselves.

    I’d also love to hear your comments on this Doug. Here’s another twitter from a Microsoft counsel owning David Drummond yet again. It’s a tweet from Kent Walker of Google to Brad Smith of Microsoft, declining Microsoft’s invitation to joint bid on the patents. David Drummond was stupid not to have talked to Kent before he cried on a blog.

    https://twitter.com/#!/fxshaw/status/98932077327691776/photo/1

    Google is full of shit, and you know it.

  10. Hahahahaha…. hahahahaha….. HAHAHAHAHA…. This….. hahahahaha…. this is… hehehe…. is turning out to be….. HILLARIOUSHAHAHAHAHA…..

    Hehehehe…..

  11. I find it funny that Doug truly thinks Android is great. The apps crash, its difficult to use and requires the MFG’s to employ greater development staff. How much do they truly save in the end? Not a whole lot and they are starting to see this. No matter how you slice it, its not a good OS unless you like low level access to the phone. Thats a very small percentage of people in the world.

  12. rob: You know what’s also a small percentage of people in the world? Those who can articulate convincingly, and not just to their own teammates, why, to use the consensus around here, the best platform is unknown to consumers whereas the worst is ubiquitous.

    Tell me this Doug. If Google only cared about the Nortel patents for defensive purposes, why didn.t they let RPX join them in their bid? RPX is a company whose stated goal is to use patents for defensive purposes, and to defeat patent trolls. I might also add that RPX included Android OEMs.

    Joe: I don’t know why. But thanks for the twitter link, I imagine it’s terrific.

    Hotmail Alias: Thank you, thank you.

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