His arguments here are just so disingenuous.
"So if Google had acquired the rights to these patents, that would have been OK."
Yes, because Google isn't forming a cartel to stifle competition.
"It’s OK for Google to undermine Microsoft’s for-pay OS licensing business by giving Android away for free, but it’s not OK for Microsoft to undermine Google’s attempts to give away for free an OS that violates patents belonging to Microsoft?"
Yes, because Google isn't using an artificial barrier (the patent system). And because those patents are bogus. Because most, if not all, software patents are bogus. That's pretty clearly Google's stated position.
"First, the “estimate” of $1 billion was partially set by Google itself."
But there's no denying that this is by several times the largest amount ever paid for a patent portfolio.
"They’re effectively arguing against the idea of the patent system itself, simply because Android violates a bunch of patents held by Google’s competitors."
Yes they are arguing against the patent system, at least for software, as do many in the industry. There's nothing hypocritical about that.
"Google supporters claim that Google only wants to use patents defensively. But what exactly does Google need to defend against, if not actual patents Android actually violates?"
This argument betrays either a very weak understanding of how defensive patents work or a deep dishonesty of argumentation. Maybe both. This argument can be applied to the very idea of defensive patents.
It's conflicting that someone who's so obviously intelligent and often terribly insightful (not to mention witty) can be so willfully dishonest.
I'm going to back to only reading Gruber's writing on Apple, and ignoring his writing on anything else.
Hmm. I'm not so sure. There's a way to see Google's behavior where what they're doing is precisely that.
Predatory pricing exists when you try to take over a market by selling something so cheap, other competitors are driven out – or prevented from entering, since they couldn't recoup the costs involved in developing a product.
In league with their manufacturing partners, Google has their own cartel, attempting to homogenize the smartphone landscape under a single, free OS.
The incentives are obvious: it's much easier for Google to make its ad money if it controls the next big platform.
They may have dressed it up as pious and open – but for their purposes, it's a land grab. Is it anticompetitive? I'm not sure. My antitrust scholarship began and ended with The Microsoft File back in the 90's. But I'm also not sure it's any better than whatever satanic pact they are intimating has been formed by Apple and Microsoft.
Google's argument here is summed up as "You could trust us with those patents. But we didn't get them. You can't trust the guys who did get them." I'm pretty sure at this scale, with this much cash on the line, business just doesn't work that way. Google will run over anyone to keep their ad money flowing, just as Microsoft will run over anyone to keep their license money flowing. Why should we side with one cause over the other?
This is what happens when innovation threatens dinosaurs. Phrases such as "predatory pricing" exemplifies a fundamental misunderstanding of how pricing works, or markets in general.
People forget the whole point of the market is to serve the consumer. The point of the market is not to protect the interests of old tech giants because they can't compete with free. They're willing to prevent consumers from enjoying the satisfaction that Android has to offer because they want money for doing what Google offers for free. By this logic I should start a search engine that charges $10 a search, then sue google for anti-competitive practice.
Everything about business is predatory. Every time a company releases a better product it is predatory to their competition. Offering an edge your competitors can't handle is kind of the point. If Google's pricing is so "predatory", why doesn't the competition do the same? Because they're ethical?
By that reasoning, Google should have either bought the patents or taken their lumps when they lost, right? If business is inherently predatory, whatever predatory groups wish to form are free to do so in the advancement of their own interests. Why is it for Google to bandy about anticompetitive concerns, crying "DOJ!" but not their competitors?
I don't want to imply google is more ethical than the competition, but in this instance calling for an abolition of patents is in line with my personal views, which is markets should serve the consumer. I have no unconditional support for any of these companies.
In a general context, a company practicing 'predatory pricing' may do so to drive the other competitors out of business. Once that happens, it's free to raise prices to monopolistic levels which would end up hurting consumers eventually.
These fears are not based on evidence. When has someone released a free product only until they wiped out all the competition, proceeding to jack up prices? I mean, once they jack up the prices there is an established market ripe to pick customers from. Furthermore, the temporary profits, if any, would only be temporary and would be a greater cost to their corporate image.
So my question to the Google nay-sayers is do you expect Google to raise prices on Android once they have forced MS and Apple out of the smartphone market? Or do they just have a superior product model in which they can offer free software and make money on ads while their competition must charge for the software. I personally don't think they will ever raise Android prices so it's just good competition.
More likely their intention is to keep it free, but with additional "conditions" such as Google search being the only way to find information. Mandated use of Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar, Contacts. Heavily integrated Google Plus social features like chat, blog, and photo sharing.
Google won't need to charge for Android because there will not be a way to avoid a Google tentacles if you use their OS. Google is trying to burn down the ecosystems of it's competitors with free products and make money by being the gatekeeper of your every activity with a smartphone.
Reading Apache 2 it looks like "an end to predatory vendor lock-in" is acheived by making it possible for anyone to use the source including Microsoft and Apple. If the land can be used by anyone it is hard for me to think of it as a land grab.
It's in no way hypocritical for Google to try to acquire the patents and then, on subsequent failure, condemn their acquisition by the opposing consortium.
I'd be willing to entertain arguments along the lines of Google's anti-competitive behavior, but I find their stance on patents is cogent and consistent. I find Gruber's argument to be, OTOH, totally disingenuous.
This doesn't really hold for something that doesn't have to be physically "produced" like a software license. If that were the case, you could accuse every open source alternative of engaging in predatory pricing. Usually you see this term applied to physical goods, when a company sells them at or below cost for the sole reason of forcing out a competitor who cannot stay in business doing the same.
... or prevented from entering, since they couldn't recoup the costs involved in developing a product.
Well, Android started as a little company that Google eventually bought. There's no reason why someone couldn't do something similar. The barrier of entry is pretty low, at least for the software stack. Getting it onto real devices is another matter, but I don't think that part is particularly relevant here.
Hell, there's no reason why MS couldn't license WP7 for free. They just choose not to.
> They may have dressed it up as pious and open – but for their purposes, it's a land grab. Is it anticompetitive? I'm not sure.
Well, then, isn't GNU/Linux in general anti-competitive? Or free-libre software since many developers don't charge for services?
As for Google's trustworthiness with patents versus patent-abuse, anyone know a site with a good summary of Google's patent disputes?
Fair point, and that got me thinking:
Would you say the same about the iPad?
Would you say that Apple is stifling competition in the tablet space by making a tablet that's really good and reasonably priced? That's also technically speaking, stifling competition right?
Yet, I don't think anyone would argue that Apple is doing anything unfair.
So what's the difference?
If Apple was foregoing any margin, and perhaps even operating in the red in attempt to prevent competition, that would get a little touchy. For example, if tomorrow Apple slashed the iPad's price to $150 just to fuck over the rest of the market, that'd be weird.
But the thing is, Apple isn't invoking the DOJ or crying "anticompetitive." Google is. So they need to have competitively clean hands if they want that to mean something. I'm not sure they can claim that.
I felt a decent amount of relief when I dropped him from my RSS reader.
A few hours later he completely changed position to one where he was mildly critical of Apple for making the app less user friendly. I suspect his overwhelming bias just became too strong for even him to bear.
It would seem like someone who links to that (and apparently agrees with it), would not say something like "But what exactly does Google need to defend against, if not actual patents Android actually violates?"
Google supporters claim that Google only wants to use patents defensively. But what exactly does Google need to defend against, if not actual patents Android actually violates?
This should be particularly obvious in the Nortel case because everyone was theoretically an infringer until the very moment that someone won the bid, at which point the winner magically becomes non-infringing and the loser is all of a sudden an "idea stealer".
Just think about it this way: had Lodsys or Intellectual Ventures been able to afford Nortel's patent portfolio they'd be suing everyone right now and I can guarantee Gruber would not be saying "well, Apple did violate actual patents", instead he'd be calling it patent trolling.
It seems like what Gruber is actually saying is that the patents Google is violating are legitimate, invented and/or owned by companies that are actively making products based on those patents. The fact that some of those companies (Apple, for instance) may choose to then enforce their intellectual rights doesn't make them patent trolls; having your company's sole business be suing people over violations of patents you purchase makes a company a patent troll.
For better or worse, the current system is largely based around mutually assured destruction.
It seems like what Gruber is actually saying is that the patents Google is violating are legitimate
4:2004-cv-04922 Google Inc. v. Skyline Software Systems Inc.
5:2005-md-01654 In re Compression Labs, Inc., Patent Litigation
5:2004-cv-03934 Google Inc. v. Compression Labs Inc et al
4:2008-cv-04144 Google Inc. v. Netlist, Inc.
3:2009-cv-00642 Google Inc. v. Traffic Information LLC
1:2011-cv-00175 Microsoft Corporation et al v. GeoTag Inc.
1:2011-cv-00637 Google Inc. v. Sourceprose, Inc.
4:2009-cv-01243 Google, Inc. v. EMSAT Advanced Geo-Location Technology, LLC et al
I think Google is whining because they didn't win, and they know communities like this are anti-patent and will automatically side with them if they portray it a certain way. It's hypocritical to complain about the patent system and that competitors won patents you also wanted and were bidding on.
It is not without precedent at all.
Not that non-assertion of patents was necessarily a contributing factor to Sun's demise.
So they are hypocritical because of something they haven't done? By that logic, everyone is an hypocrite.
Has Google ever actually sued competitors aggressively? Not that I know of.
On the other hand, Apple and Microsoft are /already/ having an impact on Android and these patents would only strengthen them- their motivation was offensive and they were the ones who inflated the prices just to hurt Google.
Because he's not really anti-Google, he's just pro-Apple (read Apple fanboy).
To stifle competition one can simply flood the market with goods priced under cost.
Besides, Google formed a cartel with Intel, they lost.
Yes, Google is trying to ward off being picked to death by a myriad of utterly worthless (in the market, not legal sense) patents. Yes, Google is likely in violation of several thousand patents with Android, and all of its other software products. Guess what? So is damn near every other developer on the face of the planet, but Google has a big fat target painted on their back because of Android's success. They would be crazy to not try to acquire a defensive patent portfolio.
I'll guarantee you that I violated a good half-dozen patents in the course of my absolutely routine work today. That doesn't mean that I'm a mean nasty violator out to undermine free enterprise, it means that software patents suck. Apple and Microsoft have both proven that they will use these garbage patents offensively to drive competitors out of the market, and Google is left in the position of "acquire means of mutually assured destruction to protect ourselves with or die by horribly broken patent law". Which do you think is the sane and responsible course of action?
Google supporters claim that Google only wants to use patents defensively. But what exactly does Google need to defend against, if not actual patents Android actually violates? - Also Gruber.
The implication is that these are legitimate, unassailable patents that Google has ripped off in some nefarious scheme to steal Apple's good ol' homegrown American hard work. Software patents are a severe problem that are retarding innovation and progress, not helping it, and to imply that Google is hypocritical because they wanted the patents, then railed against them is intellectually dishonest. Google's extremely obvious goal is to protect itself and its products from the abuses of the patent system. For Gruber to pooh-pooh their actions like that is effectively a means of condoning those patents - and software patents as a whole - as legitimate and worth protecting.
I'll guarantee you that if it were Google holding the patent gun to Apple's head, and Apple were to post a similar PR statement after a failed bid to acquire said patents, he wouldn't be singing the same tune.
I would argue that android "borrowed" a lot from Apple, and that the iPhone was truly innovative in many ways. The question whether they copied too much, or whether Apple's idea were innovative in the first place is what the Patent system is trying to answer.
There is little doubt the current patent system is a big mess. But I see opposing the idea software patents in the same light as opposing patents in general. It is likely that allowing companies to copy everything is good for consumers (at least in the short term), and increases competition.
The question is where you put the line, for example - if Android was an exact copy of iOS, would you still say that it should be permitted?
All complicated systems borrow from each other - there is nothing evil about it - it's just evolution.
Can we all at least agree there is nothing innovative that Apple did for the iPhone that dates back over 10 years before it was released?
So what if Android borrowed a lot from Apple? It doesn't make the iPhone any worse, and we all benefit from cross-pollination of ideas.
Having a finished product like the iPhone as a horizon surely helped Android. But of course, that's not the whole story. Only Google managed to be inspired by the iPhone and launch a successful competitor. The rest of the industry was simply inspired.
If Android was an exact copy of the iOS but developed separately (with no code copying) that would be perfectly OK. Why shouldn't it?
He makes an interesting point that if software patents are valid then why should these other companies allow Google to use it and give away Android for free to undermine their own business.
It's all the more reason that the patent system needs to be reformed but it will never happen because there are too many powerful people involved that don't want to see it happen.
But he was. He is arguing that only a small handful of patents -- those used to attack Apple and/or app store developers -- are the problem with the patent system. That is directly in the section quoted.
His argument seemed to be that instead of Google lobbying to rid the world of software patents, they seemed to be playing the same game as MS, Apple & Oracle by bidding on the Nortel patents.
Google is essentially the bitch of the patent world right now, simply because they're a younger company and a land claim occurred. They can both appeal for changes -- which that very blog entry does in droves -- while preparing for the reality that nothing is going to change overnight.
Google will likely acquire a lot of ammunition (the IBM purchase puts them in a very interesting position relative to Oracle, threatening Oracle's entire platform), make life painful for its competitors, and then will be in a position to call for change without everyone declaring, as they are now, that it is merely convenience.
I think the real problem with Google is they're using open source technology. This makes yout a lot more susceptible to patent lawsuits.
Back when I used to control patent budgets one of our rules was that things we patented had to be discoverable. That is, if someone infringed, but it was hard to prove, it wasn't worth spending the money on a patent. Just keep it a trade secret. With Android everything is available by just looking at the source code repository. With iOS, WebOS, WP, and RIM, you have to do a fair bit more sleuthing to see if they're actually infringing.
"Google isn’t arguing against a handful of never-should-have-been-issued software patents. They’re not arguing against patent trolls like Myrvold and his shell companies like Lodsys — companies that have no products of their own, no actual inventions, just patents for ideas for products."
Unfortunately, just because you actually make products doesn't mean that you are incapable of holding and/or abusing bullshit patents. Apple owns more bullshit UI patents than most other companies that I can think of, and they've made it clear over the years that they think it's morally right, not just defensively necessary, to patent user interface ideas.
Apple has not, historically, abused its patent portfolio to the same degree that Microsoft or Oracle have. However, now that they've thrown their hat into the same ring, they're getting lumped in with these dastardly anticompetitive badguy companies when this comes up in the tech press. I'm sure that makes Apple - and Apple fans - uneasy. It seems like they're being blamed for their newfound parters' bad behavior. Well, I'm sorry. You sign a deal with the devil, and you better buckle in.
 As as someone who designs and builds UIs for a living, I think this is complete bullshit. Copyright should protect UI; patents should not.
 Although they have done so. Just not as much.
But it doesn't. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotus_v._Borland
When you get into issues of truly ripoff UI, trade dress  seems like the most natural solution to me. However, the legal standing of UI w/rt trade dress is still being determined.
It is saying that copyright applies to a user interface insofar as elements of it are subject to copyright on their own, but that "a user interface" is not itself expression, not itself subject to copyright. If you copied every last detail of my interface except the icons or other elements subject to copyright, I would have no valid claim that you infringed on my copyright.
(NB:I am not saying this is bad or wrong at all. Only that it is so, and that it's relevant.)
The trouble that stems from this is that what we call a "user interface" is not exclusively or even mostly elements subject to copyright, but consists of methods and behaviors that are often the product of much ingenuity and innovation. This is why various parties have sought patents for aspects of the interfaces they develop--because those things aren't subject to copyright.
I'm not sure what is accepted case law, but the cited case seems much narrower to me than you are implying.
Of course Android violates patents. Just like any sufficiently non-trivial piece of software...
The first is obviously true, and I'd argue the second is as well. An effective duopoly of iOS and WP7 would be bad for consumers in the short term due to decreased competition, and even worse in the long term due to the effects of all mainstream mobile platforms being locked down.
Well not really; it's basically in Google's interest.
Not mutually exclusive.
To say nothing about their own 3.14 billion dollar bid for Nortel's patent portfolio and then claiming that their true worth was 1 billion, being completely disingenuous.
How? Google's claim is that if the patent system were fixed, Nortel's patents would be worth much less than they are in the current environment.
I broadly agree with you on this count. However, I think that for us, the techie community, the fact that a majority of mobile platforms are locked might be an issue; for the average customer it is not.
"Not mutually exclusive."
Again agreed broadly but it can be argued that at the end of the day Google is a company chasing revenues (just like every other company) and not having to get involved in patent litigation is going to save "them" money. While the patent system might be broken, but as long as it's not fixed, Google has to play along (just like MSFT and AAPL). I just do not see how they can ever take the higher ground here, other than being miffed at missing the deal.
The true price of any commodity is not static, it is always dependent on competition/availability/demand etc. The patents might be worth 1 billion, but if Google offered in excess of 3 billion, they thought that it was worth the price "in the current environment". Also Google can claim that the patents were worth 1 billion, but they have a vested interest in portraying this as being the case. I am a little cynical of such claims.
Raising the cost of a product through litigation is not in the interest of customers.
Several companies, all used to using patent suits as a cross licensing negotiation tool, got pissed at the lopsided profitability of truly innovative products in the mobile space, and started to sue. Kodak sued Apple. Nokia sued Apple. And no wonder -- shipping 5.3% of handsets, Apple's taking in 66% of mobile industry profits. How do you mollify your shareholders that some non-handset company is eating your lunch? You try to get a licensing fee.
Apple was new to this game, didn't start by playing it, but thanks to embarrassingly unprecedented success, got turned on from all sides, and drawn in to the fray. Now those throwing stones are realizing Apple (with 25 years of mobile device R&D the phone guys forgot about) can throw back.
I shared the timeline a year ago:
... to put this in context:
- Apple accuses HTC of iPhone tech theft (2 March 2010)
- Kodak prompts ITC to consider iPhone ban (18 February 2010)
- Motorola seeks ban on US BlackBerries (26 January 2010)
- Nokia sues Apple, says iPhone infringes ten patents (22 October 2009)
One test for patents' validity is whether the company is enforcing them. With Kodak, Sony, Nokia, Motorola, RIM, and others suing one another as a business-as-usual step in licensing negotiations, the value of Apple's defensive patent portfolio at the licensing negotiation table depends in part on Apple's perceived willingness to stand behind the validity of their portfolio and enforce their patents.
Kodak got their judgment. The other pigeons will eventually all come home to roost. In the mobile industry this is how it's always gone -- we're just noticing it because Apple made phones interesting to the general public so now the press is involved.
And why should it be different? The fact of the matter is that the idea of Google going after Apple, Microsoft etc for violating Google's patents isn't even an issue. Wanna know why? Because Google's competing on the merit of the product. It's letting the customers make the choice b/w the Microsoft OS and Android.
Whereas if Microsoft had it's way, the customer wouldn't even have a choice. Thats the real difference.
Ah, of course. Because everyone held off buying the iPad until all these Android devices turned up and validated the whole product category. You're on to something there, you know.
This is why I want to laugh when companies like HP and others think they just need their own OS, and then they can be just like Apple. Apple has a lot of other advantages and factors working for them, that the other companies can't easily replicate.
The whole world spins around copying others and putting our own spin on it. 99% is copying, 1% is innovation. Thinking otherwise will not be compatible with reality.
Other companies are trying desperately to match the iPhone, and failing. As far as I can tell, their failure to match it has nothing to do with patents.
On a serious note though, assume that you have a sandwich shop and your business is of course to sell sandwich (not free) and people flock to you for your tasty sandwiches. Now, if I open a Sandwich shop that gives away free sandwiches and it also tastes pretty much (close to 85%) like your sandwiches (say, i was inspired by your sandwiches, but i don't acknowledge publicly) and make money out of the numerous solicitors selling all kinds of things (you can decline to buy stuff, but they're always in-your-face) that are in and around my shop. Now, why would customers go to you if I sell the same (pretty much) sandwich for free?
Does it mean that I am a philanthropist because I give away free sandwiches to the people? And because I am doing a charity (technically), does it mean that you should not sue me?
That said, patent troll (like Lordsys) is entirely different issue. However, I don't think Apple has a choice here. It is trying to defend its business, and the only legal way it can do it is through these stupid patents.
Edit - Instead of just down-voting, why not elaborate?
No. It does mean that the people who choose to eat at your place are better off. Those who stay at the first shop probably are too, because competition will force them to improve their sandwiches. That's exactly how the free market is supposed to work.
The Engadgetization of HN comments is nearly complete. Get off your high horses, Gruber is exactly right that this screed by Google's counsel is incredibly hypocritical.
Regardless of what you think about patents, Google, Apple, etc. the following argument is total bullshit:
Group A has a right to bid on X. Group B is an evil cartel for bidding on X.
Group A bids 4 billion. Group B bids 4.5 billion. Group B is paying way beyond what they are really worth! Group B has inflated the value of patents! Group B has created a patent bubble!
Gruber's conclusion is spot on:
"No one other than Nathan Myhrvold and his cronies sees the U.S. patent system as functioning properly, but Google’s hypocrisy here is absurd."
Regarding Gruber, your argument may have merit if it wasn't the case that Gruber never publishes anything seriously negative about Apple, and also never says much good about competitors. Sadly, I knew the article was going to be a negative piece about google the minute I saw it was by Gruber.
People are simply calling it as they see it. There is no real favorite here between Apple and Google that I've ever seen.
Apple's a company that hasn't missed that often or that big recently though so it's hard for me to judge where he should have gone hugely negative on them in your view.
Those are Apple's biggest failures in recent times. Looking at Gruber's blog archives, I don't think it's a much of a stretch to say that he's a biased writer.
The original Apple TV was always seen as a hobby, just as the new, more successful one is. They still sold what 6-7 million of them, made a bundle of money. Compare to Google TV 1.0 it was a roaring success.
Cant vouch for iCal and Contacts in Lion but reviews overall are positive. You seem to be reaching here.
The server line was another well reviewed product and modest money maker.
You seem overall to be grading everything on a huge curve as if anything short of a home run is a massive failure.
So is Gruber.
Also, Gruber seems to think that that it's hypocritical for Google to have bid for the patents and upset that others won them, though he seems to be missing the part where a consortium of competitors are the people that won them, not a single company.
This logic confuses me, and kind of undermines his premise. Seems like the same logic would say "Why does this accused criminal need a lawyer, if he did not actually commit a crime?"
It's ok for Apple, Microsoft et al to defend themselves if Android violates their own patents.
It's not ok for Apple, Microsoft et al to defend themselves if Android violates patents they didn't develop.
Also, remember that although Microsoft & Oracle claims that Android violated some of their software patents, Apple claims against Samsung go far beyond that, this analysis by Nilay Patel is pretty good: http://thisismynext.com/2011/04/19/apple-sues-samsung-analys...
Is it right for Google to defend itself with patents they didn't develop? (like for instance those bought from IBM)
In this case I think not.
- Apple, MS and similar companies who buy patents and actually use them to make products.
- The Lodsys's of the world that use them as revenue sources and don't actually contribute any value to anyone.
In the blog post, Google is lumping everyone together, whereas Gruber disagrees.
Apple's patents that they've used against HTC and similar are for things that are remarkably unique - more unique than the Amazon 1-click patent and similar. Notably, they're not seeking out patents to use as weapons - it's likely, if not transparently obvious that they purchased the portfolios in question to remove the chance that those patents would be used against them.
I'm no friend of patent law (I think it should be reformed to function in a manner similar to real-estate property law), but I'm thinking that there is more nuance to this debate than "Gruber is a Google Hater".
That (turning the text of a link into a clickable URL) is precisely one of the patents Apple is asserting against HTC.
If that patent is truly innovative (which it isn't, I'm sure there were web browsers and/or mail readers that did similar things well before the filing date), Google has to worry about the patent situation around Chrome, Mozilla has to worry about the patent situation around Firefox and ...
If Apple wins with such nonsense patents against HTC, wemight as well just shut down the US software industry and send it offshore (like everything else), since there are plenty of jurisdictions that don't recognize these bogus patents.
It's not just big companies that are involved here.
Guys like me. A family man in the northwest just trying to make a living doing pretty obvious things with technology is going to get screwed by all of this eventually.
I develop on Android and it's a massive chunk of my income. If they go down, so do I.
All these games have to stop and something has to be decided. The courts need to look at this, the government needs to look at this, and things need to move swiftly.
I'm about ready to start painting houses. I've never heard one of them complain about getting sued for the way they move their arm up and down when they paint.
One would have to be willfully ignorant not to see that.
It’s OK for Google to undermine Microsoft’s for-pay OS licensing business by giving Android away for free, but it’s not OK for Microsoft to undermine Google’s attempts to give away for free an OS that violates patents belonging to Microsoft?
Secondly, even if that is true, does Gruber think Microsoft deserves to win that fight? I mean seriously? If you can develop something on your own time that violates a software patent, that means we need massive patent reform. Not that somebody did something wrong, or that it should be stopped. Making that assumption is unjustifiable and something that should be apologized for.
Google doesn't have a lab with reverse engineers working on "hurting M$". No, they are simply distributing a flavor of Linux. And unlike the other scared/ignorant companies that are signing costly patent deals with Microsoft based on claims and threats of potential litigation, Google actually wants to fight. I think that's pretty respectful.
Software patents are a joke. They leverage the playing field towards the rich and ensconced individuals/corporations and against the hackers who are actually inventing the technologies. It's a sad, depressing joke no one wants to laugh at.
"It's OK for Google to weaken or impair Microsoft's for-pay licensing business by giving away Android for free, by eroding the foundational concept of an OS being something you pay for; but it's not OK for Microsoft to weaken or impair Google's attempts to give away for free, by eroding the foundational concept of its free-ness, an OS that violates patents belonging to Microsoft?"
 undermining free as in speech by showing it is encumbered, and undermining free as in beer by licensing the relevant patents for relevant dollars
Aside from that, I think Gruber hit the nail on the head (though his usage of undermine seemed a bit odd and out of place).
Once you take away Gruber's presumption that most software patents are valid, the rest of his piece collapses.
It's a war. You have to take arms to defend yourself, but it doesn't mean you're happy about it.
Gruber is almost bipolar: his insight on the industry is usually pretty interesting, but he becomes borderline retarded when he starts posting about Apple competitors.
I may be naive but I simply don't understand the concept of transferring the ownership of a patent. If Google buys a patent related to Android then HOORAY! They can use that idea in Android. If Microsoft buys that patent related to Android then HOORAY! Microsoft gets to sue Google.
It seems to me that "violations" are simply "didn't pay enough monies." Why is buying a patent your product violates a bad thing?
and, on a semi-unrelated note, why are patents transferable at all? Shouldn't they only benefit the person who created it? what claim does some arbitrary company dozens of sales down the line have to that patent?
"Don't be evil" is sounding at best schizophrenic and at worst hypocritical.
I'd much rather hear: “Look, we love open source software and we'll use it and contribute to it in every possible way, as long as it doesn't interfere with our business strategy”.
That would be honest and not that bad in fact.
His thoughts on WebM vs. Apple backed MPEG-LA are equally ridiculous.
But then he turns around and says "why bother with the open WebM when you can use this "standardized" codec that is h.264", even though it's proprietary and patent-encumbered.
Completely opposite positions and double standard on his part. The only common ground between them is that the one's he's supporting are the ones Apple is supporting.
Let me be clear, though: there is nothing wrong with playing a video in Flash. I mean that seriously, no sarcasm. What there’s something wrong with is requiring Flash Player to play video. That’s the whole point of the HTML5 <video> element: to enable web video without requiring the use of proprietary plugins.
I have nothing against WebM. In fact, prior to this week’s announcement, I thought Chrome had the best HTML5 video policy of any browser: they supported all the relevant codecs. Supporting WebM and H.264 is better than supporting only one or the other, in my book. But if you’re only going to support one, I say support the one that is in wide use, with extensive wide-ranging support from camera makers, mobile playback devices, and online video services.
This aren't "completely opposite positions". This is consistent pragmatism. I believe you frame it as a contradiction because you see the issue primarily as an ideological one of open vs. closed, with the "open" nature of WebM trumping any utility of h.264. Not everybody sees it that way.
It goes both ways. I don't agree with the way software patents currently work and think patent trolls such as Intellectual Ventures are the scum of the Earth, but Gruber has made some valid points here.
And yeah, he probably made valid points regarding pixel width in OSX, he's out of his depth discussing patents though.
Attack the argument, not the man. Your comment just looks silly.