What's even worse than stupid patents is the money being paid for them. A collection of patents, most of which are useless, being bought for billions of dollars is stupid. That money could have gone into R&D, employee salary, etc any of which would have been better. And the worst part? The reason you should be able to buy a patent is so that you can produce new technology and software with the unique idea contained in it. Unfortunately, the patents don't see the light of day as software because they're bought; nothing in those patents is new to google. They're simple a defense against other patents.
In the US the patent system is one of the most stupid and broken systems still functioning. Either patents need to be done in with altogether for software or the acceptance of them needs to only happen after significantly stricter review.
Google may have a no-evil policy on patents for the time being, but the future will be quite different. Microsoft also used to acquire patents for defensive purposes only. Look at them now.
It seems that there are a lot of companies that would benefit from incremental but substantive patent reform, and lobbying for it could be cheaper than the billions wasted on patent defense now.
To my knowledge, Google was never in the offensive with their patents. They are stocking up to defend themselves.
And when they do, they'll have all these patents!
edit: To clarify, I think it was a good idea they got these patents, but as for being used offensively I think the question is "how long until" rather than "if".
IBM, with over 45,000 patents, could easily and completely shut down every single aspect of the technology industry if they wanted. The fact that they haven't in its 100 years is a testament to the clearly more superior way of competing in the market to win out.
It's all supposing and it could go either way but early intentions only count for so much.
I'd like it if Google held their principals but it's hard to look at them and not see their principals eroding just a little bit over time and wonder if this might be one of them.
After all, they have a relatively weak portfolio right now and you could argue that their lack of offensive action to date is as much a case of them bringing a knife to a gun fight as a matter of principal.
I like Google, and I see that they need this deterrence, but let's not pretend that bad stuff can't happen.
Those patents will be used to protect Google from a company suing them, when Google arguably copied their product (iPhone, iPad) which was totally new under the sun.
Yes, the patent system is fscked but there must be some protection for companies inventing new ways of doing things.
No, the iPhone and iPad and all of Apple's products have been built upon ideas and inventions created by others outside of Apple. If I was made of time and money, I'd wander through the patents held by Microsoft, IBM, Cisco, Intellectual Ventures, Nortel (Apple only recently got rights to their patents), HP, HTC, Samsung, Nokia, and the hundreds of other companies (trolls and product companies alike) and document the thousands upon thousands of patents that cover aspects of the Phone and IP
Then I would go through all the public records and and to the best of my ability guess how many of these patents were actually licensed by Apple prior to selling the IPhone and IPad.
My guess? (It is nothing but a guess, but still) I'd expect Apple incorporates 100,000's of thousands of patented features. And I would be shocked if they licensed anything over 50 percent of these patents.
Why do I think their license rate would be that high? I would guess they have a cross license agreement with IBM, TI, and Microsoft, which might cover nearly that many of the infringing patents.
Anyway, I had to respond when someone claims these products were "totally new under the sun".
They also incorporated steel -- an invention centuries (millennia?) old...
Point was, they did something new with the iPhone. The same thing with the iPad, when they invented a way to make tablets which people would pay money to use.
>>I had to respond when someone claims these products were "totally new under the sun".
You really didn't get the point...?
Every manufacturer had failed for many years to build something really good -- and the ones without internal problems (Nokia, Microsoft) copied Apple's ideas to compete. So ideas aren't "worthless".
The ones doing the copying might end up eating Apple's lunch.
You can make an argument for that real innovation (not moving libraries from IE into the operating system) should have some form of protection.
(-: I'm doing a Devil's advocate here, thanks for the down votes, people... :-)
Not having a monopoly means Apple also has to keep improving their stuff.
I assume that your comment is referencing things like the recent nortel patents with Apple and Microsoft.
Well, you can't even remotely say that those companies haven't used patents offensively.
I really don't think it's hypocrisy until Google starts behaving like Apple and Microsoft when it comes to patents.
Do you really not believe there to be a difference?
It seems to me that MS is as much predator as prey.
Of course, they do care about profits, but it isn't their only agenda. This is why Google owning the patents isn't a major deal. There is no history of using the patents to get rid of competitors or to make a quick buck. They pull them out of the closet to defend themselves from other patent lawsuits. I am certain that if Google started going after various companies over mundane patents, the view of them will change very quickly and you wouldn't see very many people defending them.
I'd rephrase that slightly: Google's has interests that are aligned with an open, diverse, and free Internet. They'll make the most money if the Internet thrives. Companies like Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft would make more money if they had a controlled walled garden under their control.
That's why Google is different, IMO.
These companies are still businesses and, when faced with the choice of what is better for them or for the greater good, I expect them to choose themselves.
They didn't. They got Verizon to agree to a compromise position on net neutrality.
In the US, patents are allowed for the sole purpose of encouraging innovation. In the case of Android, Google's work is in danger of being halted, and in a way that does not clearly make it easier for their competitors to innovate more with less competition. Thus, the software patents being used against Google are likely to have the opposite of their intended effect, unless Google can force a stalemate by gathering their own patent war chest.
If we didn't have all these software patents, all the money going to litigation could be invested in the real business of making products, which would be a net win as long as there are market forces spurring innovation.
(Another way of looking at it is that software is cheap enough to develop that companies don't need decades of market exclusivity to recoup their costs. The fundamental computer science R&D needed for a cell phone software platform is negligible compared to the QA costs of making it production-ready, and those QA costs are already well-protected by copyright.)
As others have noted, the patent system still sucks. But it is nice to see someone score a point who doesn't abuse it for maximum monetary gain and market share protection (hello Oracle, Apple).
I do appreciate their sentiment:
“We buy companies all the time — for both people and interesting technologies. This would have been north of $4 billion for none of those things. We were bidding on the right to stop people from innovating"
Patents are a mass weapon.
You pursue an infringement claim against some small random sampling of patents in your portfolio.
Challengee has the option of 1) paying your fee or 2) challenging the patents.
Your average patent case cost is $3-$10 million.
Supposing you can invalidate the patents, challenger returns with another random sampling of patents....
Eventually you 1) go broke or 2) pay up.
If the companies are evenly matched (or at least sufficiently that they could drain one another bloodless), they enter into a cross-licensing agreement.
I don't see any mention of what Google paid for the 1000 patents, but this suggests a very friendly relationship between Mountain View and Armonk.
"Now, Microsoft, about that racket you are running against Android phone manufacturers..."
Maybe they still will, but their impetus to do so is diminished with every patent they acquire.
If so, this more than doubling their patent portfolio, which sounds significant (though naturally patent quality from both technical and legal perspectives plays a much bigger role than the raw number of patents regardless).
The author should have presented some more compelling examples, then. The patents listed are incredibly far from new innovations, but rather just the same overly-broad and generic defensive fare.
sooo here's a _naive_ idea... why doesn't google take these patents, and offer them up for FREE to ANYONE as long as they are used IN DEFENSE of a patent attack? ...with the hope of others contributing patents to this pool for the same purpose? i would donate/license the patents i have to this pool... over time there could be enough patents in the pool to deter against almost any aggressor, effectively rendering the patent system useless and "reformed".