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Google Sues Consortium Backed By Apple and Microsoft to Protect Android 150

Posted by Soulskill
from the tis-the-season dept.
A couple months ago, Rockstar, a patent-holding consortium backed by Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Blackberry, and others launched a barrage of infringement suits against Google and the makers of Android devices. Google has now launched a counteroffensive, seeking protection from Rockstar's patent trolling. The complaint (PDF) 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." Google's filing also accuses Rockstar of interfering with their business practices by contacting other companies and trying to convince them not to use Android. It asks for a declarative judgment of non-infringement.
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Google Sues Consortium Backed By Apple and Microsoft to Protect Android

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  • About time. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @09:32AM (#45781577)

    They should have started sooner.

  • Oh how I wish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by inode_buddha (576844) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @09:34AM (#45781585) Journal

    Oh how I wish PJ was around for this... she'd be all over it.

  • Two prong attack (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HellCatF6 (1824178) <HellCatF6@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @09:38AM (#45781595) Homepage

    They should have started sooner, AND
    They need to put the full-press on congress to improve the patent process. Patents mean almost nothing today. The office is overwhelmed, and it's up to patent courts to try and sort through the mess.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @10:06AM (#45781667)

    In 2011, Google lost an expensive bidding war for a group of Nortel Networks patents to a handful of technology giants including Apple and Microsoft that paid $4.5 billion. Two years later, a consortium jointly owned by those companies is suing Google for patent infringement.
    http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2013/11/01/google-sued-by-patent-firm-owned-by-apple-microsoft/

    So they tried to buy a company that "produces no products and practices no patents."
    They must be glad they dodged that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @10:20AM (#45781701)

    For a quick history lesson, "Rockstar" was a consortium created specifically to purchase the Nortel patent portfolio. Google was invited to join this group, but declined. Furthermore, Rockstar wasn't the first company to make a bid for these patents. That honor goes to Google, themselves, who ultimately bid as much as $4.4 billion.

    So, instead of having a single company (Google) having control of a huge list of patents themselves we got Rockstar -- a company created specifically to share the patents among other big players so no one entity has control over it all.

    How this is construed as Google trying to protect Android is simply beyond me. If Google didn't see value in the patents they wouldn't have bid $4 billion dollars to get them. If Google was worried about protecting Android they would have joined Rockstar in the first place. Google made a serious strategic mistake and is now pursuing a legal course of action to try and rectify it.

  • Re:About time. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @10:25AM (#45781725)

    That's the same reason I find myself being a fan of Google in other areas as well. They still seem to believe in open protocols and formats (although waning a bit recently), where others are trying to tie customers to their proprietary services.

  • by cjjjer (530715) <cjjjer.hotmail@com> on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @10:27AM (#45781727)

    I believe that Google's interest coincides with the "consumer's" interest.

    As long as you hand over all of your personal data to them sure of course they will side with the the *consumer*.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @10:30AM (#45781745) Homepage Journal

    "As soon as I think that Sony might be doing something right, they shove their heads up their arse again."

    Lack of oxygen, mostly. There's a lot of methane in the posterior orifice, and little oxygen.

    TBH, I cannot understand the thinking of the idiots who graduate to become corporate executives. Theoretically, they joined the consortium to save money. Being a member of the consortium, the other actors aren't going to go after them to extract licensing fees. Android, for instance, has been reported to have "earned" a couple billion dollars for Microsoft already. And, of course, Microsoft is ethically entitled to NONE of that money. Or, if they are actually, truthfully, entitled to any of it, they should have presented their case in court somewhere to demonstrate exactly what they should be entitled to.

    I'm sick of the status quo. Microsoft implies that a product may infringe upon one of more patents, but never does state exactly which patent, or how the infringement might be taking place. That doesn't exactly fit the modus of most patent trolls, but it's close enough for my purposes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @10:38AM (#45781779)
    Sad tired troll. Why don't you go back to your desk in Redmond and do some real work.
  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @10:42AM (#45781797) Homepage Journal

    You see, GP as a troll. I see him as a realist. Google's product is not software, but data. That data consists of your information, and mine. Please see my reply to GP.

  • by InPursuitOfTruth (2676955) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @10:53AM (#45781837)

    But the companies themselves are not suing Google themselves, and are not claiming that Google infringes any of their products. In fact, these patents could apply to things for which no product exists, or could be so general, that nearly all products in that category use them. Unless you are claiming that another company is hurting your sales, you are a patent troll. Rockstar has no product sales and will not bring up the sales of its shareholders in court.

    Either way, they are trying to dodge accountabilty by using a shell company to sue. Besides hiding, they limit their own liability should Google prevail. Rockstar is clearly setup with one purpose -- to sue with impunity.

  • Re:Oh how I wish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrDoh! (71235) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @11:54AM (#45782073) Homepage Journal
    I sooo miss Groklaw. There's so many things happening I want the better view of it instead of the usual Florian copy/paste hack job.
  • by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @12:23PM (#45782189)
    Sony has been schizophrenic ever since they bought Columbia/CBS Records. Before then they were pro-technology, anti-strict IP. Sony was the defendant in the infamous Betamax case [wikipedia.org], where the TV/movie companies tried to argue we could only watch TV live, and shouldn't be able to use VCRs to time-shift broadcasts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @12:34PM (#45782243)

    Look shit up yourself you lazy fuck. No one is here to be your researcher because you're obviously too ignorant or lazy to do it yourself.

  • by BroadbandBradley (237267) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @12:58PM (#45782333) Homepage

    "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." this statement sums up nicely how patent trolls are a stain on our modern patent laws and actually hinder innovations rather than promote innovation as patents are supposed to do.

    If you don't make a product using your patent, you really shouldn't have the right to tell others not to. To have an idea is one thing, but to actually bring it to market is something else entirely. To have an idea that could enhance the lives of everyone but do nothing but sit on it is counterproductive to the advancement of society as a whole. One good idea pompts many more good ideas, if all these patent trolls had actually been producing products instead we'd be much further ahead in terms of product innovations. Just in user interface design alone, there's stupid patents like "pinch zoom" for touch screens, How many other concepts never hit the market because of royalty fees or patent lawsuits?

    It boils down to the basic idea that information wants to be free, anything else is an un-natural restriction on the life force of the universe!

  • Arbitrage? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goombah99 (560566) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @01:08PM (#45782367)

    I dislike patent trolls. But I cringe everytime someone says someone is a troll just because they don't make the product associated with their patent. I've patented invention (in laser physics). I don't make lasers or detectors for commerical purposes. I make inventions and then sell the inventions. I don't think that makes me a patent troll. Furthermore if sell my invention I might well sell it to someone who plans to make their money by selling licenses to the invention rather than making it. I'm glad they exist. Because it makes it easier to sell the patent, it means there's less risk to the inventor and thus more reason to invent. Conversely that company is making their money by arbitraging. While I might have sold it for more had I the resources to connect with buyers, there's risk to me, because it might flop. To them, by buying lots of inventors patents, some flop, some are worth far more than they paid. On average, by holding lots of patents, they make money by arbitraging the risk I want to avoid.

    SO it's better for everyone. more inventions, more of those inventions finding practical use because they are commericially available.

    SO what's a patent troll versus a legitimate arbitrager? Perhaps its deliberately collecting dubious patents and then suing people who probably developed the technology on their own as an extension of their legitimate manufacturing? It's a fine line. Some things are truly obvious in hindsight but these are not always obvious is foresight. What makes this hard is that Many times patents are not collected on till a long time after their invention. This makes them seem more obvious in later times than they were at the time of their invention.

    The things I invented were really almost impossible to do at the time, but 7 years later with newer technology they were easy to do. When they became easy to do, lots of people did it and sold products. When I informed them of my invention, they said, oh come on thats so obvious. And indeed it was, now, but defintitely not at the time. I know this because for example one of them allowed a laster to tune 1000 times faster than any other laser at the time was able to. It's quite apparent everyone would have invented that if they could have since it's so desirable. But 7 years later it seemed so easy to do.

    Thus it would not have been unreasonable for me to have sold that patent to an arbitrager and get my money up front. they can wake 7 years for the industry to start using the idea, then assert their rights and make cash. this is a good thing.

  • Re:About time. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @01:23PM (#45782419)

    They still seem to believe in open protocols and formats

    Which alternate universe are you in buddy?

    Google search - Closed Source/ proprietary
    Google Plus - Closed Source/ proprietary
    Adsense/Adwords - Closed Source/ proprietary
    Youtube - Closed Source/ proprietary
    Maps - Closed Source/ proprietary
    Gmail - Closed Source/ proprietary

    where others are trying to tie customers to their proprietary services.

    Is this the reason I am forced to create a google plus social media profile just to have accounts on youtube, gmail, etc ?

    Oh but google is nice and wants to help you. OK Lets look at their terms of service.

    By using our Services, you are agreeing to these terms. Please read them carefully.

    Wow.. I am surely going to read these carefully since I was presented these the first time I searched something on google.com. Oh, wait.. no .. I wasnt. How can you agree with something that was never even shown to you? Only in Google's universe.

    When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.

    Um.. yeah, google, go ahead and "communicate" "distribute" and "publicly display" my email. As long as its in the narrow definition of "operating" "promoting" or "improving" their service. A definition which they control - obviously.

  • Re:Arbitrage? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by russotto (537200) on Wednesday December 25, 2013 @02:43PM (#45782819) Journal

    The things I invented were really almost impossible to do at the time, but 7 years later with newer technology they were easy to do.

    Then your invention was worthless; it was unpracticable until it would have been obvious anyway. It's relatively easy to blue-sky a bunch of things you could do if some enabling technology were available, but in fact cannot do.

No hardware designer should be allowed to produce any piece of hardware until three software guys have signed off for it. -- Andy Tanenbaum

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