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#BoycottApple trending on Google plus due to Galaxy Nexus ban (plus.google.com)
425 points by saket123 on July 1, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 344 comments

Something about Koh's overwhelming bias for Apple seems really suspicious. It's one thing to preeminently ban sales of product A for reason X, but to also ban sales of product B for reason Y where products A and B have the same parent, and where reasons X and Y are completely unrelated? Something is wrong with this picture.

What else could be going on? Maybe I have a cynical view of humanity, but I spent a few minutes digging to see if I could find anything on requirements for District Judges to release tax returns (as they are essentially public officials, right?). Couldn't find anything on that, but generic salary data is available: http://www.fjc.gov/history/home.nsf/page/js_3.html

$175K is probably rather low when you're used to working in the high-stakes world of patent litigation.

It'll be interesting to investigate this with more depth. ( Another interesting / related read: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/sep/27/local/me-judges-pay2... )

If you are accusing her of bribery, that is a very serious allegation.

Imagine if such a thing happens and is eventually exposed. What a scandal would it be. I don't think any large company, let alone Apple, would want to be involved in any such mess.

Corruption isn't as straight forward simple as Hollywood movies make it out be "Here take this dollars and do this for me". It's usually a complex net of interests and favors trading, that's really hard to prove. Maybe someone at apple just happen to contribute to someone's political campaign, who is proposing legislation that just so happens would benefit the judge's family business. This level of corruption happens every day, everywhere in the planet. People are trading favors as we speak.

The part that makes it difficult, is where exactly do you draw the line between "trading favors" and "corruption"?

Making a legal decision based on your own personal gains and not the data?

It is completely reasonable to investigate bribery where there is a perceived unreasonable decision and a heavy financial motive.

Individuals working at large companies do bribe people in a variety of situations.


Okay. Let me qualify my point. I find it hard to believe such a high profile bribery can happen in the US (the article you have posted is a case of bribery by an American company in Mexico). And given Apple's profile and a lot of entities already pursuing their case (ex: NYT's iEconomy series), they would never do such a big blunder.

Abe Fortas of Gideon's Trumpet fame resigned from the U.S. Supreme Court following ethics allegations http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abe_Fortas http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gideons_Trumpet

The reason it is hard to believe is that people question decisions like the one made and are willing to investigate without government help. While it is unlikely, it should still be questioned.

Remember the Kids for Cash scandal?

1) Looking at your previous comment, you are an Apple fanboy. So you probably know NOTHING about what's happening here and you just want to support apple for Fuck's sake.

2)You don't live in the US. So keep your hard-to-believe's to yourself.

3) Read 1) again.

He didn't investigate it. He said, "here's what I did" which fell far short of any investigation. He had no reason to post how far he got along in his little dirt digging campaign.

There's a valid point in his statement. Its just that you haven't thought about it deeply yet. A dozen OEM's including HTC, Samsung and the rest, have about a 50 phone models in total (assume 50 for simplicity). Atleast one phone model from these OEM's is under litigation and/or have been banned w.r.t patents. Apple, is a single company with just 2-3 phones and NONE of these phones have been banned yet. This must mean 1) ALL the phones, with various flavors of Android are some how violating Apple's patents OR there is something unfair happening here. The possibility of about 50 (remember, we're assuming 50 is for simplicity) phone models violating a single company's patents is just ridiculous. This must mean these makers of these 50+ phone models haven't thought about these patents OR it clearly means something unfair is happening. To assume, these WELL-EXPERIENCED (Eg: HTC) Phone makers of these 50+ models haven't thought about these patents is plain stupidity, which leads us to the conclusion, there's something unfair going on.

Or it could be that android is violating lots of patents, and the common thread is they are all making android phones. Note that they are also all paying Microsoft. It seems the common thread isn't apple and Microsoft doing something wrong, rather it is android.

Most of these companies even manufacture Windows Phones, so it makes sense to license them with Microsoft (Eg: HTC, LG). And, the patent that Microsoft is suing OEM's with is related to ActiveSync. While Apple is ridiculously suing these OEM's for other pretty trivial patents which are not related to anything like ActiveSync. So, Apple and Microsoft are not on the same track as you think.

>>the patent that Microsoft is suing OEM's with is related to ActiveSync

Can you provide citation for the above?

As far as I know, neither Microsoft nor any of the Android H/W manufacturers have revealed any details on which patents are covered as part of the licensing agreement.

That article is about a law suit involving motorola; not a license agreement MS has with several companies including Samsung & HTC. What about these other Android companies that have got license agreements with Microsoft? They have never publicly talked about patents covered by the agreement.

I don't know about this case, but I think ITC has been suspiciously anti-Google for the past few patent cases. In almost every single instance they've ruled in favor of Apple or Microsoft, and against Google.

Setting aside your confirmation bias, I'll point out that Google haven't themselves brought these patent cases to the ITC in the same number or with the same force as have Apple, Microsoft, or anyone else. Google has filed fewer cases with a smaller patent portfolio.

It's almost as though the findings are not a random glitch.

You mean largely against non-US companies that wants to sell Android handsets on the US market.

If we posit that these decisions are biased rather than just an effect of the broken US patent system, I think it's more likely that the ITC is merely pushing a protectionist agenda that is being enabled by having somewhat plausible complaints from US companies than that there's somehow corruption going on.

What else could be going on?

Maybe Apple's case/patents are legally stronger than a lot of people are willing to admit?

I doubt that, since they keep losing in courtrooms around the world.

Apple isn't doing anything Motorola or Samsung haven't done. The only difference is the judge's decision. #BoycottJudges!

AFAIK Apple is the only mobile phone corporation who refuses to pay Motorola a royalty for the fundamental patent of a "portable hand-held telephone device".

Let's talk about that in context.

Motorola contributed some patents to a mobile telecom standard; they made a commitment to license these standard essential patents in Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory terms to everyone who wants to build a "portable hand-held telephone device".

Motorola wants 2.25% of the sale price of each Apple device in which the standard is used.

Now, if each patent contributor to the standard demands the same rate as Motorola, the outgo will be above 100%.

Essentially, only those who have contributed to the patent pool can build a mobile phone. No one else can enter the market. How is that Fair, Reasonable or Non-Discriminatory?

That is why there is talk about EU & FTC in US investigating Google/Motorola for anti-competitive behavior.

Also, there is another interesting point here - all these patents are implemented in the baseband chip built by Qualcomm and used by Apple in its devices. Qualcomm has already paid the royalty for using Google/Motorola's patents. Now Motorola wants royalty from Apple also, for the same patents. Double-dipping anyone?

Let's see here... Motorola together with telecom companies such as Nokia, Ericsson, Siemens etc worked for decades in establishing standards and infrastructure for digital mobile phones. In this they were truly succesful, and this would not have been possible unless they had shared patents with each other that were involved in common standards. Then, much later, enters Apple and brings nothing to the table with regards to telecom technology. Why should they not pay?

> Why should they not pay?

A patent owner can accept FRAND conditions and the patent becomes part of the standard. They then earn a steady stream of licensing money off the ensuing trillion dollar industry.

A patent owner can reject FRAND and their technology does not get included in the standard.

There is no third option.

You can't decide after the trillion dollar industry establishes, to renege on FRAND, because your patent was only made part of the standard -- and therefore only has value -- because of that promise.

Apple should pay. No questions about that.

But how much should they pay? In this special case of patents, Motorola is expected to charge Apple the same rates as other licensees. In fact, they have committed to do so.

But now, they are going back on that commitment and also trying to double dip.

FRAND (Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory) patent commitment is an essential part of standard setting process. If companies are allowed to abuse FRAND committed patents like this, there will be chaos. We'll go back to the digital dark ages when there were no standards or interoperability.

I don't think Apple should pay. And I question whether anyone else should, either.

These "standards-essential" patents are under RAND terms because to do otherwise devalues the patent and provides incentive for the standard to "work around" the patent. If Motorola wants revenue from that patent, they must license it under RAND terms.

But now that there is significant investment in the infrastructure that uses these standards, what right does anyone have in threatening anyone else over their use of this patented technology? Judge Posner, presiding over Apple v. Motorola, which he has dismissed with prejudice, seems to feel the same way: That since Motorola has licensed their standards-essential patent under FRAND terms, they essentially lose their right to demand an injunction against Apple. (At least, that's my reading of his decision.) I.e., they are to negotiate reasonable terms or get no royalties at all.

The question in my mind is at what point these patents should be expired early due to their status as standards-essential; for without them, the standard must be redesigned, and with them, every participant must pay royalties to one incumbent. At no point is this fair, reasonable, or non-discriminatory.

Personally, I don't see the point of this run-around: These patents are not a reward for invention; they're cudgels with which to steal your competitor's lunch money. They should be invalidated or expired for that reason alone.

Rather than having this ambiguous FRAND principle, standards bodies should require that companies that want their patents included in a standard hand over these patents to a patent pool in return for a shareholding in that pool.

I'm dubious of patent pools. What benefit do they provide beside the protection of other members of the pool?

> would not have been possible unless they had shared patents with each other that were involved in common standards

How generous of them to establish open standards like that eyeroll.

Seriously. The whole point here seems to be that people should pay a tax because other people are doing obvious fucking shit. Fuck patents.

Reason: Motorola refused to offer them Fair Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) terms; unlike the terms given to the rest of the licensees.

But legally does that matter?

Can a corporation pick and choose what patents/royalties or whatever they are to pay for if you use them just because the corporation deems it to be unfair?

Yes. It does. See recent case which was thrown out because they were trying to leverage FRAND patents inappropriately.

Absolutely, yes. And the other side is allowed to sue in court.

Good? Because that seems absurd.

Didn't Apple start suing Android OEMs first? If I remember correctly, there was a mutual destruction pact before then.

No, check the timeline history. Apple did not start this. The smartphone incumbents did, after Apple started eating all the profits.

Does it matter?

The specific patent that is being used to block these devices, which from what I've read relates to a very weak patent on live search-as-you-type from multiple sources, is a bad patent.

It is one thing to say "They are stealing our design." It is another to say, "We happened to get here and patent this first, even though everyone is pretty sure that given enough time and money the patent will be struck down... but we're going to sue anyways."

One is a economically sound, consumer benefitting action. The other is the opposite. Apple Legal is at odds with Apple Engineering, trying to litigate away the competition instead of innovating past them. No one benefits from a patent apocalypse, least of all patent holders. In this, many other companies have shown much more restraint.

But still, I sort of get it. Have you used an up-to-date android phone in the last 6 months? Perhaps even gotten to play with an Nexus 7 or a Galaxy S 3? The competition is fierce right now, and Apple has badly mismanaged its money (by not expanding their engineering capacity enough) so that they're in the awkward situation of having to litigate to try and keep up.

Apple has never pretended to have scruples in the legal department, so it's not out of character for them to twist the broken patent system to its very limits to get what they want. But we should call them on it. Maybe we should even inform our purchases with that knowledge, because their business strategy is not good for us as consumers.

Apple Legal is at odds with Apple Engineering, trying to litigate away the competition instead of innovating past them

I don't even... what do you expect Apple Legal to innovate? "Accept EULA to unlock?" They aren't at odds with engineering any more than having a good defense is at odds with having a good offense.

Have you used an up-to-date android phone in the last 6 months? Perhaps even gotten to play with an Nexus 7 or a Galaxy S 3? The competition is fierce right now, and Apple has badly mismanaged its money

That's really the heart of the matter. Patents were created to reward innovation by actually disadvantaging competitors that sat around and waited -- because the market by itself doesn't produce brand new things just by competition. Even though Galaxy-whatever today may be a better phone and the economy is hurt on a small scale by holding it back a bit, the economy is improved on a large scale by rewarding the big innovations.

The tech crowd doesn't get that a local meritocracy where the best phone wins optimizes existing things, like making a better keyboard or improved battery life, but it doesn't often lead to an iPhone or other revolutionary change. A pure merit-based market actually punishes innovation -- if you spend years and a billion dollars researching HCI, form factors, etc and your competitors just copy you then you are competing with a billion dollar hand tied behind your back.

Is this particular patent valid? Maybe, maybe not... it doesn't really matter. What really matters is that unless Apple's competitors need to compete much more effectively in order to make up for their lack of innovation then the market has failed.

> I don't even... what do you expect Apple Legal to innovate?

Apple Engineering creates great products. Apple Legal pays private security firms and complicit local officials to storm journalist's houses. Apple Engineering is trying to create a reputation as a great place to work, Apple Legal is scaring away engineers left and right. Apple Legal plays dirty, Apple Engineering and Design talk about the nobility of great products.

> The tech crowd doesn't get that a local meritocracy where the best phone wins optimizes existing things, like making a better keyboard or improved battery life, but it doesn't often lead to an iPhone or other revolutionary change. A pure merit-based market actually punishes innovation -- if you spend years and a billion dollars researching HCI, form factors, etc and your competitors just copy you then you are competing with a billion dollar hand tied behind your back.

I'm not sure how Apple hasn't been rewarded for their efforts. What more, exactly, do they need? They've gone from 0 to a lead in smartphone marketshare, dictating the discussion and product form factors the entire time. The entire industry turns on the axis of Apple's release cycles. Their product, "iPad", is practically the "kleenex" name of the post-PC era. They have an incredible stockpile of money, goodwill, and clout in their local government.

Do they also get to make spurious patent claims left and right now, and expect everyone to take them seriously?

> Is this particular patent valid? Maybe, maybe not... it doesn't really matter.

I am pretty sure it matters a lot, as there's nearly $100m in bonds being laid out.

> What really matters is that unless Apple's competitors need to compete much more effectively in order to make up for their lack of innovation then the market has failed.

But they _do_. Please note how many big players in the market have simply been crushed because of their complete inability to adapt to the market forces Apple brought to bear. Nokia? Pif. Blackberry? Swirling down the drain.

Android is only where it is because the remainder of the industry banded together and formed some kind of freakish multi-headed alliance which barely works and has taken twice as long to even begin to compete. And it's taken a ton of money and engineering time dumped in by Google to keep the project from imploding.

The problem, ultimately, is that the patent system is broken. It should not be possible to patent such obvious variations on interface tropes as "search as you type... from multiple sources... also on a phone!" It _should_ be the case that Patent holders get punished for writing broad patents (so that more things qualify as prior art) rather than the current situation where patents receive almost no vetting at all and are seldom challenged.

I'm not sure how much advantage Apple should get for being the first mover, but at some point competition will exist. We've had years of Apple sitting on an epic pile of money and not hiring engineers while the entire valley of has been gobbled up by Google, Facebook, and others. If other companies are finally starting to outpace Apple, it's inevitable given Apple's oddball management decisions. These are the same bad management decisions–in my opinion, of course–that have led Apple to be so very weak when it comes to actually fielding software services. They've had nothing but a string of embarrassments in this field and most people I know in my field are extremely leery about considering employment with Apple in this capacity as a result.

Trying to litigate on weak patents and novel definitions of "irreparable damage (!!!™)" is bad for me, as a consumer. I am yet again disappointed in them, and I am furious at how broken our patent system for software and technical innovation.

why is this being down voted ? it is a fairly good response in my eyes.

I'm not sure how Apple hasn't been rewarded for their efforts. What more, exactly, do they need ... We've had years of Apple sitting on an epic pile of money

What you are doing is looking at the success story and saying 'they already made 100x on their investment that should be enough!' but neglecting to consider the chance of failure. We don't have patents so that Apple can make 150x times their investment instead of 100x, we have them so that companies looking at 150:1 odds instead of 100:1 will try to make those big changes in the first place.

Do they also get to make spurious patent claims left and right now

Absolutely Apple should continue to get advantages over non-innovating competitors even though Apple already has gobs of money.

> What you are doing is looking at the success story and saying 'they already made 100x on their investment that should be enough!' but neglecting to consider the chance of failure.

Incorrect. I'm saying that they have a big advantage and they have failed to capitalize on it.

> Absolutely Apple should continue to get advantages over non-innovating competitors even though Apple already has gobs of money.

The asinine accusation of non-innovation bured in this is worth pointing out, but not worth replying to otherwise. For shame, sir. For shame.

But hey, nice try at astroturfing.

> Is this particular patent valid? Maybe, maybe not... it doesn't really matter.

Are you shitting me??? They just got two of their competitors' flagship products banned from sale over that bullshit patent, which will likely take years to invalidate.

What on earth makes you think it "doesn't matter"?

I think he's saying this is exactly what should be happening. The competitors didn't innovate, they copied. For that, they have to be punished or there will be no "next iPad" level advancement.

Except for this current patent fiasco with the Galaxy Nexus! They definitely did innovate, and yet they are getting knocked down for something that has been in use on normal computers for years now ... but for some reason is patentable because it's now on a phone.

For blatant copying? Sure, knock that down, ban sales of it. But to say that the Galaxy Nexus is copying the iPhone is ridiculous to the extreme, and Apple is just using the weapons they have (these silly, over-broad patents) to try to limit competition. I mean come on, unified search? Google practically invented that.

Can you point to a specific case? From what I can tell, the first two major cases were Nokia v. Apple and Apple v. HTC, in October 2009 and March 2010, respectively (and Nokia's not really part of the current kerfuffle of suits).

Months ago I outlined the history with cases here in long comments. I'll look it up again and comment here later today or tomorrow.

Using HN Search, I found one of the comments (there are others with contemporary who's suing who diagrams, but haven't found them yet):


Over two years ago, I argued that patent suits were how the licensing game was played among the existing players. It was considered an everyday cost of doing business by the incumbents, but Apple wasn't well prepared for this. (They've learned fast.)

This wasn't on consumers' radar because none of the fights were as interesting as the juggernauts of Apple v. Android which get framed in almost religious terms and taken personally by users who have chosen a camp.

The argument then was that Apple had not been actively litgating patents, but when Nokia (faced with dwindling profits, most of which appeared to be landing in Apple's pockets) started the fight, and Kodak piled on, Apple had to demonstrate that the patents it was using to counter these suits were patents that it was actively defending.

This pushed Apple to file against HTC, and eventually against others who, again, had all been actively (but boringly) suing one another before Apple got to the table.

If something needs long winded comments, I am skeptical. For example, did HTC do something to litigate with Apple that caused Apple to sue HTC? I don't see anything like that.

If you assert that Apple sued HTC because Nokia sued Apple first, that does not make any sense whatsoever. Nokia isn't even an Android OEM.

If someone refuses to accept the need for a nuanced response, I am skeptical of their opinion.

Still waiting for this so-called nuanced response.

Nokia got holed below the waterline and is doing its best to make its way to port, in Seattle.

According to this Wikipedia article this is not true: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartphone_wars

Nokia started suing Apple in 2009. I do not consider them a smartphone incumbent. After some back and forth between the two companies Apple sued the first Android manufacturer (HTC).

So are you saying that Samsung sued Apple first when it comes to smart phones and tablets? I would be very interested to see that case history.

This isn't a corrupt country (there is a specific list of corrupt countries, this is a pretty objective statement.) It makes 0 sense for you to post "how far you got" as you didn't get anywhere.

The fact that a country as a whole is relatively non corrupt doesn't say anything about specific people and their corruptibility.

Also, the U.S.A. is number 24 of around 180 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index and appears below countries such as Bahamas, Chile or Qatar.

I'd be a little skeptical of an index which shows Japan as being relatively less corrupt than the US. If one were to read up on Japan, it's clear that for a first world country, it's rather corrupt --not the same way, say Indis is corrupt, but still, I feel more so than the US, specifically.

Dogs and Demons (A. Kerr) is filled with instances how corruption has contributed to massive misallocation of resources, coverups of environmental contamination, political favoritism, cronyism, etc. resulting in the paralysis which afflicts Japan.

Do you have an opinion on the measures used to create the index? Are they leaving something significant out? Or is the data gathering process flawed perhaps?

I'd hardly say Japan is not corrupt--obviously, it is--but saying it must be more corrupt than the US isn't exactly a justified statement when all you're working off is a feeling.

No I don't. I don't know enough. And you are right. It's only a feeling --but one based on my experiences compared with other people's experiences.

I think the big knock on the US, deservedly, is the undue influence of PACs on our politics. That said, in Japan, PACs are less necessary because of the business <-> gov't relationship (i.e Japan Inc.)

I mean that it's unheard-of for judges to be literally bribed as this implies. This guy is posting his research digging things up - a very interesting read: if he had found anything!

But he didn't. The steps he took are worthless and don't deserve so much as a mention. This would be like me googling your username and some illegal activity, finding that I couldn't find your username on any forums dedicated to that illegal activity, "but still." Come on. The steps I took are worthless and aren't worth mentioning.

> I mean that it's unheard-of for judges to be literally bribed as this implies.

Not really. It may be unusual, but unheard of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_for_cash_scandal

I'd be more than a little skeptical of an index which places the U.S. below Qatar and Chile.

Wow that live stream update is a nightmare - I keep trying to read what's happened and things get pushed down almost immediately. A clickable (or w/e) "18 new posts" would make it usable.

To save you the trouble, it's a stream of content free fanboyism and witless photoshoppery. Every single comment would be downvoted to oblivion if it were posted here.

> Every single comment would be downvoted to oblivion if it were posted here.

Well, after reading the comments in this thread here, and some of the comments over on Google+, I'm gonna have to say you got that prediction wrong. =)

on reddit however...

If you actually used Reddit you would notice that most ignorant and outright trollish comments are downvoted into oblivion. You see a lot more awful comments, but that's only because Reddit is larger. They're treated the same.

Not if you make a comment like "iSuck, but I think I am better that everyone" on r/technology. I wish your description were true everywhere.

Comments like that usually come after a long, dumb tree that started out with good intentions. It happens on HN too. The difference is that I can collapse those threads on Reddit, or hide the story completely.

Collapsible comments on HN would be awesome. Too often I get deep into a huge comment thread that has gone off topic and close the tab after I lose interest and forget what the topic was supposed to be about.

The resistance to it probably comes from the belief that it would hasten HN's decline. Once you can collapse subthreads, what's the motivation to not contribute to the subthreads?

But Reddit at levels 1-5 is almost indistinguishable from HN at levels 1-5. The only differences between HN and Reddit are topic diversity, collapsing, and limiting comment display to the top 100 or 500 comments.

That has me using HN less in recent months. It failed to account for the inevitable with display tools, so a thread that would be perfectly navigable on Reddit is unreadable on HN.

Every single site that has a live stream starts off thinking: "we're going to be cooler than the competition, our live stream will actually update in real time," then realizes "uh-oh, maybe there's a reason other sites don't actually pull the updates and show them in real time"

Facebook, twitter, stackoverflow, et. al. have all previously used the constantly-updating stream technique only to switch away to the "x new posts, click to view"

You can hit the pause button or scroll down a bit.

Scrolling down a bit doesn't help at all. Where's the pause button?

That is unusable.

There's a big pause button at the very top right of the stream. Once paused, scrolling works great. How is that at all unusable?

~ Because the pause button doesn't show up until a new entry is added to the list. Which happens after you've already scrolled down the page, so the pause button isn't even visible when it is rendered.

~ Because the pause button is light gray on white.

~ Because scrolling down the page, which in almost every other scrolling interface prevents any updates from affecting your scroll position (terminal, chat, twitter, etc.) didn't help.

~ Because the page just moves in weird, small jumps and feels like it's broken not like new content is rolling in. (They're actually accounting for huge jumps! and chose instead of move it in tiny glitches...)

Could be a browser thing. On chrome I can see pause button as black on light gray. When I scroll down the auto add affect reduces, scrolling down further the content is pretty much stable. I think its a pretty good reading experience on Chrome..

It "hops" every couple of seconds in a jarring fashion. It's really rather annoying.

The button is black text on light grey background, yes. I think the parent poster is more pointing out that the light-grey-on-white-background, which isn't very noticeable.

(I didn't know there was a pause button until read this thread.)

"We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so."

From Ratatouille, perhaps Pixar's finest film.

You should never have to press a button to take a page out of an unusable default state, but if that's going to be, the button needs to not be lost in a pile of clutter.

The pause button appears after the first time the posts refresh so it won't be there until a few seconds have passed. Look for it top-right over the posts column.

After scrolling down a bit the content continues to jump, but not by as much.

This is really a non-issue. Tech companies sue each other and get import bans all the time. The victim eventually moves some UI widget three pixels to the right and the import ban is lifted and life moves on. The only real consequence of all this is that lawyers on both sides make a lot of money. Google is not going to stop making Android and Apple is not going to stop making iOS. Both will just advance more slowly because money is being spent on lawyering rather than programming.

I think suggesting that nobody is hurt by ridiculous injunctions like this is a bit disingenuous. Firstly, consumers are denied the chance to purchase a product that exists; it's been made! It's ready to ship! Sure, you might not want one, but it's certainly possible that other people do.

Something else an injuction does is robs a manufacturer of any time-to-market advantage that they may have had releasing the product when they were actually trying to do so. Holding sales back by even a month can mean the missing of critical retail periods throughout the year. I'm not even arguing either way about the validity of the claims behind the injunction here -- if it turns out they are in the wrong, then they should certainly pay damages to Apple based on how much damage that they caused by doing the wrong thing (i.e. profits from sales).

How much the target of an injunction benefits from being allowed to sell their product is concrete and measurable. How much Apple benefit by preventing a competitor from placing a product on the market is, in stark contrast, essentially unknowable and thus difficult to compensate for if Apple turn out to be wrong.

Well if you put it that way, why the hell would Apple not try to get this injunction? Any public company in their right mind should take advantage of this sort of market advantage.

The legal/patent system that allows this is broken, that's certain. But can we really blame Apple for using it to their advantage? It's sort of genius. Evil genius, but still...


I'd prefer to just leave the post at that, but to make a bit more of a contribution to discussion, fiduciary duty is a myth invented sometime in the 70s or 80s. No one has ever been sued for not maximizing the profits of the company the run. A corporation doesn't have to be evil, even if being evil were more profitable than being good. They can just choose to be less profitable and no one cares.

Given the choice, I'd much rather live in a mildly competitive, mildly cooperative capitalism where companies compete on things like price and quality (and salary!) without trying to burn the crops and salt the fields of the competitors the way Apple is now.

I wish your statement about fiduciary duty were true. It's not a recent concept.


“The Court held that a business corporation is organized primarily for the profit of the stockholders, as opposed to the community or its employees. The discretion of the directors is to be exercised in the choice of means to attain that end, and does not extend to the reduction of profits or the nondistribution of profits among stockholders in order to benefit the public, making the profits of the stockholders incidental thereto.

Because this company was in business for profit, Ford could not turn it into a charity. This was compared to a spoilation of the company's assets. The court therefore upheld the order of the trial court requiring that directors declare an extra dividend of $39 million.”

The Wikipedia article notes that it's not considered 'current' law in the U.S., but this was decided in the early 20th century (~1920).

Clearly not current law in California, or Apple itself would have started to distribute its $100 billion cash hoard as dividends under Jobs, instead of just letting it pile up. (Tim Cook announced this spring that he'd be giving out half of the money in dividends and stock repurchases, but he wasn't under any legal pressure to do so.)

I absolutely agree with you, given the choice and the ideal world, I'd much rather live in a fair system where companies compete on the things that actually matter. Absolutely.

I just think we're fooling ourselves if we think that we can simply expect people to adhere to this with no tangible incentive, rather than build a system which has the desired result.

In other words, it's still the system that's broken. There are a lot of companies I'd like to boycott (and I certainly boycott and disagree with Apple's decision on this specific matter), but I don't blame the companies for trying to make money—regardless of "fiduciary duty" which is pretty irrelevant (I was just talking about the nature of companies to make money and dominate the market if possible; this would be true of any company, not necessarily just public companies with duty to shareholders).

This is a tough call, and I'm sure it was tough even for Apple's legal team. Is it worth tarnishing their image to attempt to hold a competitor from the market for another couple months? Looked at from a strictly logical standpoint, with profits enabling more technological developments and more production capacity, as well as more advertising and sales efforts, it just might be worth it.

You know that a whole team debated this and did dozens of calculations and eventually the call was made, but knowing Apple, this was no butt-hurt matter of principle. This was a market decision based on something they could do that would be beneficial for their company in the grand scheme of things.

Do I agree? Not really. I think the company's reputation is way more important than this injunction. But it's an exceedingly complex decision, based on many factors that I don't have information about, and they made a different decision. I honestly can't blame them for that.

It's easy to answer my question with a simple "yes." It hurts you. It doesn't feel right. Companies shouldn't be so impersonal. They should play nice. I know. We need to fix the system that allows despicable acts like this. But in the context, it makes perfect sense. "Blame" is not addressable here except to the system. (As is usually the case, but that's for another essay...)

I see what you are getting at, but you have got to remember that a company is a not a programmed, autonomous and unmanned robot which is doomed to follow the rules set by the market and the system, it is managed by real people who (I sincerely hope) have the ability to reason and to see the difference between right and wrong. Anyways, the decision to use the patent law this way was wrong on many levels. I'm sure Apple knew exactly what it was doing, so there's no need to blame the system, or the market.

> They can just choose to be less profitable and no one cares.

The shareholders might.

But can we really blame Apple for using it to their advantage?

Of course.

>Firstly, consumers are denied the chance to purchase a product that exists; it's been made! It's ready to ship! Sure, you might not want one, but it's certainly possible that other people do.

What kind of ridiculous justification is this? "But I had the car! It was ready to sell! I had someone who wanted to buy it! It's not right to stop me just because the car didn't actually belong to me, the guy I stole it from doesn't even know it's gone!"

Firstly, the (at this stage surely still alleged) infringement on another's intellectual property is not equivalent to the theft of a car, or the selling of a bridge that you don't own, or whatever.

Secondly, I was simply saying that injunctions can disadvantage some people or organisations, and that they don't even have to be people directly involved in the injunction.

I was using a more extreme example to make it more obvious how ridiculous what you were saying was.

Let's try again: imagine there were a truck load of Android pads going somewhere but the truck got stolen. The thief quickly gets the pads to his story and sends out advertisement everywhere that he has the new Android pad for $1! People are lined up outside the store ready to buy but before he can open the police show up, shut the store down and recover the pads. The people only lost out on a sale that never should have existed. It's not the fault of the police for stopping the sale, nor the person who reported the crime. It's the fault of the thief.

Likewise, if this product infringes patent(s) then it should not exist. Any disappointment to the customers if the fault of the company that made the illegal product, not the ones who stop sale (the judge) nor the people who reported the infringement (Apple).

If consumers want the device they can simply purchase an Apple device. If Google did indeed violate the patents in question the features the user want are available in Apple's products.

You mention first-mover advantage ... that is exactly what patents are supposed to grant, you invent something cool, you get a patent on it, and then YOU get exclusivity on that invention for X years so you can recoup your costs of R&D.

If company Y owns the patent and company X clones it and sells it for $50 cheaper company Y is now disadvantaged even-though it spent all of the money researching and developing it in the first place. Apparently the Judge agreed that company Y is in the right and that company X should no longer be allowed to sell their widget until the lawsuit is settled.

Nope. It works slightly different, first companies like Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and others invested billions of dollars in creating telecommunication standards. Next those companies are forced to license patents for those technologies to Apple. Apple creates phone which base in 95% on technology created by those companies, they are adding several features like "slide to unlock" or "pinch to zoom" and patent it. Samsung, Motorola and others looks on Apple product and says "OK, so it means that customers want other UI, we can give them it too", they are participants in OHA which created very similar to iPhone project of OS for mobile phones (in the same time). So they start to produce and sell such phones. Now Apple goes to court and pretends that theirs big "innovation" is so unique that it should let them to block anything similar to theirs "inventions" (in the same time Apple took notifications system from Android)... what is the most funny part, Motorola and Samsung must license to Apple patents needed to build cell phone, but Apple may do not license theirs patents. This cause that patents for cell phones which costed billions of dollars are cheap for Apple (but its competitors needed to pay billions for those), but patents from Apple which costed only money needed for filling patent applications are impossible to obtain by its competitors.

Remember we are talking about only the 3G chip in the iPhone. Just that tiny chip, not the GPS chip, or any other part of the iPhone, and not the whole chip, just one part of Motorola's patents used to make the 3G standard. So a tiny, tiny fraction of the functionality of an iPhone.

The patents Motorola is using are called standards-essential, because many companies got together to create a standard, for example, 3G telephony, they pool their patents together and promise to license them to any manufacturer who wants to create a device that uses that standard, in this example, any cell phone that uses 3G, be that Apple, LG, HTC, RIM, anyone.

Since they have now created what is essentially a monopoly on that technology, they could force any or all of these companies to pay them exorbitant license fees because anyone who makes a 3G phone must use these technologies, and therefore these patents. That does not mean the patents are themselves valuable.

For instance, Motorola may contribute an encryption patent. There are many hundreds of other methods of encryption, so that patent is worth very little by itself, once it is selected for the standard, it is the only method that can be used to interoperate. If an manufacturer wants to use an encryption method they invented, they cannot, because their phones won't work with the cell towers.

Here is where we find the current litigation, Motorola says their patents are worth 2.25% of the entire value of an iPhone. There may be hundreds of patents in the 3G standard, if they are all worth 2.25% and there are 300, then the 3G patents alone represent 300*2.25% of the value of an iPhone, or 675%. So everything else, all the other ideas, innovations, etc are worth nothing.

This makes no sense, and the courts have said that these patents must be licensed on a Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory basis (FRAND). That means they must license the patents for what they were worth the moment BEFORE they were added to the standard. in the Motorola-Apple case that might be .05% of the value of the iPhone. Motorola and Google are using standards-essential patents as a weapon against Apple to force Apple to either pay exorbitant rates for the patent, or, more likely, force Apple to allow android to violate apple's non-standards-essential patents.

Thus Motorola is using a restricted, standards-essential patent in a manner which is explicitly forbidden by law. Judge Posner is extremely unhappy with Motorola and Google about this behavior. See the FOSS Patents Blog for more detail.

It is entirely unlike apple's use of patents, it has never used a FRAND encumbered patent to sue a competitor.

By the same standards , Apple is saying that all the value of Galaxy Nexus is worth four patent many of whom are contestable and attributable to broken patent system. As far as I can see apple is saying contextual search done from many resources is worth $349 per galaxy nexus..but 3g that makes such a search possible is not worth $12 assuming retail cost of iPhone as $500. The FRAND is such a easy excuse to hide behind, when you use real technology to make stuff work and are unwilling to pay for it. Compare it with slide to unlock or searching multiple databases on a phone. I am pretty sure none of the technology that Apple 'invented' are being used here. Google came out with their own ways of making this system work.Apple are welcome to come up with their own 3G standards if they don't want to pay for it.

So, the takeaway is, "Damn, Apple is good at this capitalism game."

Nope ;-) Problem with Apple is that if all players will play using Apple strategy we will not have any innovation at all. Motorola, Nokia, Samsung invested billions in mobile technology without knowing if this will even work, they risked and created cell phones and so on. They had big invest, big risk and at the end big win. Apple didn't take any risk, they simply polished existing products and started to sell it with much higher price tag. This isn't wrong, wrong is this that Apple tries to block another players using courts. Apple didn't make big invest, didn't take big risk, but takes biggest win by using patent system to force all competitors to give to Apple theirs patents (and when Motorola says, OK we want 2.5% of iPhone price as fee for our patents Apple screams that Motorola wants way too much... yeah, it's only essential technology for mobile phone, so who cares?), without letting them to use Apple's patents. If players like Motorola or Nokia would use Apple strategy we would simple still using line phones. Because nobody would invent cell phones, the best strategy would be to patent idea of cell phone and to wait till somebody will build it and to sue him. Patent system was intended to promote innovation, but here it isn't doing it, it is used to block innovation. Google didn't patent notifications, so thanks to this users of iOS5 may use much better notifications. Thanks to this that Google didn't patent it, users of Apple so competitor product may use it. But Apple patents all small things blocking other players. Apple behaves like parasite on innovation tree, and patent system should protect whole tree because this guarantee progress and innovation.

> Apple didn't take any risk, they simply polished existing products and started to sell it with much higher price tag.

This comment invalidates everything else you wrote.

Apple's investment in R&D for mobile handheld usability and devices predates even the existence of some of these litigants, and predates the "smartphones" by them.

> This comment invalidates everything else you wrote.

It doesn't, and it shouldn't.

Completely agree, the system should be fixed, and the act itself is wrong. But here I'm separating morally wrong from winning the objective game.

You might be mad if your team doesn't win the game, but you can't say the winner wasn't the better player. But I understand your frustration when the field has no rules and the referees are corrupt. Unfortunately, those factors are part of this game.

This is nonsense. Even when all products are allowed on the market we generally do not get the features we desire.

Its the paradox of choice, and how it makes people unhappy. If a shop sells peanut butter that is chunky, but also another brand that is extra spicy. Suddenly, we can imagine a peanut butter that is both chunky and spicy.

So, the choice already feels limited with both products on the market and is now even more limited, when their feature set may not overlap.

And as for the suggestion that these patents are the result of R&D. They are not. Not like some of the frand patents actually are.

Originally, the patent system was invented to encourage sharing secrets. But if you cant keep it a secret, because its just too obvious, you shouldnt be able to get a patent. Patents are now mostly used in an anti competitive sense.

The patent system, at least in these days, is counter productive. And the US will in time eat itself up. Because from China to Europe, we dont care about these ip laws to the same extent, and dont really serve our interests.

Europe doesn't care about IP laws to the same extent as the US?

Well, not all of Europe. It really depends on how much IP they have.

So, holland, my country, is likely in favor of IP because with our current portfolio, the export of IP minus the import, is profitable. This is not the case for any eastern european country, nor for some of the more traditional economies in western europe.

So beyond morality, for many countries, IP law just means opting in to pay other countries. And unlike traditional goods, you cant block the export or import of IP. You can only hope to compromize on some kind of compensation.

> If consumers want the device they can simply purchase an Apple device. If Google did indeed violate the patents in question the features the user want are available in Apple's products.

This statement is only true if (features that violate patents) == (all features of the product), which is obviously not the case.

Suggesting that people should "just buy an iPad" is an unhelpful over-simplification.

I appreciate that a patent is a state-granted monopoly on your idea. I feel it to be a mostly unhelpful right to be granting in the consumer software and device market. Regardless of how I feel about patents, though, an injunction prior to trial presupposes (on some level) that the charged party is guilty enough to warrant forcing them not to trade.

Injunctions are often helpful in potential libel cases, where the release of libellous information may cause largely unmeasurable but generally irreversible damages. I really don't think they're helpful when the extent to which the charged party may benefit is able to be measured (i.e. profit on sales) and the tangible outcome of that benefit redirected to whomever wins the suit (via the court-ordered payment of damages).

The slide-to-unlock in Galaxy Nexus is quite different from the one in iOS. I thought patents were given based on a certain implementation of an idea. And yet Apple still won the injunction with that alleged patent infringement.

The injunction was actually based on the unified search box patent only.

Having a patent to a feature does not necessarily mean you implemented it in your products. And besides, what if I want the extra features that Galaxy Nexus has?

The Apple products don't meet my needs, due to their restrictions. Some Android devices do. For a lot of users, the features the users want will not be available in either product if Apple has it the way they want.

Have you considered that while for huge conglomerates such as Samsung and companies like Apple this is a mere game for their law departments, it's much more serious for the small developer?

Big corporations could pretty much shut down any start up if they wanted to.

The reverse is not true. Could Panic Software have sued Apple because of the Audion / iTunes story?

So what good is the patent law if it only benefits the powerful?

I don't know if Panic had any patents regarding this.

The patent system doesn't really benefit the small developer. I was listening to Build & Analyze and Marco Arment was asked if he would patent features of Instapaper and he essentially said that it is more pain than it's worth. They don't have time time and money required to enforce it.

Yep. Even if he patented it, a larger company could probably find an earlier similar patent to buy. Especially since awarded patents are often like this: "a technology to let people share their thoughts".

That is a horrible idea now that patents in the US are first to file rather than first to invent. You leave yourself open to somebody else patenting it, then coming back and suing you. Sure, you might be able to get that patent thrown out, but there is no guarantee and you are dumping a ton of money on lawyers in the process.

Like it or not, patent trolling is just getting warmed up.

First-to-file doesn't nullify the idea of prior art. If your invention is published before first filing, it still counts as prior art for invalidating patents.

"Patent law is a game of kings."

What good is any law since it only benefits the powerful?

I think your last sentence shows exactly why it's not a non-issue as you claim in your first sentence. This nonsense is a drag on the entire economy.

Lawyers working on this issue is the equivalent of Keynes' digging holes and filling them up again statement. It's what makes Keynesianism so short sighted.

For anyone, like fauigerzigerk, who doesn't know what Keynesianism is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keynesian_economics

Monetary stimulation buy the government or any entity that creates money is different from transferring money for unproductive uses.

Keynes point was that giving out money stimulates economic activity, dis-idling hands. The hole-digging argument was that, while handing out money for productive activity is best (it has two benefits: immediate production of value, plus money that stimulates trade), even handing out money for non-productive activity is still valuable for the stimulating effects.

The reason is that I have bananas you want, and you have oranges someone else wants, and someone else has dirt nobody wants, if the government prints money to buy the dirt guy's dirt, and the dirt guy buys oranges, and the orange guy buys bananas, and the banana guy has some money waiting for someone to make something he wants (maybe the dirt guy will make a cool cartoon about oranges), that is better in REAL terms than a pile of rotten bananas and oranges and dirt and nobody getting anything they want at all.

Even though the dirt guy got paid for worthless work, real wealth was created by better allocating resources.

Well, yes, you are right with this in that both will continue to manufacture and litigate each other...

Surely, efforts would be better directed against the broken system that is being gamed by those companies, instead of dividing consumer forces, you know: Apple fans vs Google fans vs Microsoft fans vs x Other fans....

It would be much better to have everybody in action vs Broken Patent System.

It is generally acknowledged that Apple is at the offense. Google hasnt used IP laws in any way other than defensive.

Microsoft strategy is more interesting: they dont block products but rather use liscense fees that are slightly less than the costs of going to court against Microsoft. Eventhough, their patents are hard to enforce, and likely wouldnt win, its irrelevant.

So, to compare the behavior to other industries: Microsofts strategy is racketeering Italian mob style "we own this town", while Apple is raging a full on war, with any competitor, much like how a mexican drug cartel operates.

Google on the other hand, behaves more like a community bank. The members get free tech, but also take most of the risk, yet if they succeed, end up making Google more profitable.

The notion that all three companies are equally abusive, is ridiculus. They are definately operating with different policies. Whether that is due to convience or moral convinctions, is up for debate, but when looking purely at behavior in this space, Google is the good guy...

Since you are taking Mobster analogy, I'd like to propose one for Google/Motorola: Loan Shark (not a community bank).

They pledged to license certain patents in Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory terms, when they contributed them to Telecom & H.264 patent pools; but now they are not very keen on keeping their commitment.

Loan shark. Fair enough.

Although i do want to emphasize that only offensive parties are being hit with the frand patents. I really do think thats the most relevant moral ground here.

I disagree on the offensive party part - in Feb 2012, Google/Motorola used a pager-era patent to get an injunction against multiple Apple devices[1] in Germany. Apple had to disable iCloud push email feature to get their products back on shelf.


How is Apple not an offensive party? Has Apple not sued Android based device makers before feb 2012?

Is Google/Motorola suing any party that has not first sued them or any of their partners for doing bussiness with Google?

In case of Motorola vs. Apple, it was Motorola that sued Apple first. See this thread: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4184714

I am sorry, but given your submission history I find it hard to believe that you are not aware of the fact that Apple started suing Motorola in Germany first.


I do follow the patent law suites. In case of Apple vs. Motorola, it was in fact Motorola that set the ball rolling with its first suit in October 2010 in the US. It was the same fight over the same set of patents that has spilled over into German courts.

Same blog, earlier article: http://www.fosspatents.com/2010/12/apple-vs-motorola-now-42-...

Motorola filed the first suit.

Even in the article you have linked, the author says "...why my position is that Apple attacked Motorola even though Motorola technically won the race to the courthouse". Irrespective of what the author thinks went in the background, he admits Motorola filed the suit first.

Do you honestly believe that Apple wouldn't have sued Motorola if it didn't sue Apple first? Do you think they found infringing patents among thousands and assembled a full lawsuit and filed it in in about 15 working days?

Your own link states several times that Motorola was trying to pre-empt the attack and that Apple's attack was 'long awaited'. Do you really think Apple was not the patent aggressor in this case?

What I believe is besides the point. And the attempt by Motorola to pre-empt is the Author's point of view, not mine.

Why could it not be the other way around? Maybe Apple was preparing in secret, fearing a law suit by Motorola. That is equally plausible.

Apple wasn't playing the game, and got attacked by smartphone incumbents and their proxies. Apple countered, and is indeed pressing the counterattack.

As an aside, Samsung's slavish cargo cult aping of Apple designs is unnecessary. They could come up with non look alike packaging or connectors, for example, but they are deliberately imitating down to the last detail, even in their TV commercials. This across the board play signals an intent, and may be influencing judges as much as the arguments. Could be why the coin flip court cases seem more often than not to land Apple's way.

The device in question is almost completely designed by Google , atleast the s/w part. So , saying that samsung copies apple is invalid in this case

The fact that "Tech companies sue each other and get import bans all the time" doesn't strike me as being "a non-issue". It's strange that your summary of said "non-issue" comes across so negatively.

I'm wondering what kind of institutional respect for IP and spirit of innovation would lead Samsung to whip up this UI?


Sure, one can argue that Samsung and Apple both look to a common ancestor for their ideas, but I think Samsung is more insidious than people are willing to admit here.

I'm not sure what that has to do with the most recent injunction against the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The judge issued the injunction on the strength of U.S. Patent 8,086,604, which "provides convenient access to items of information that are related to various descriptors input by a user, by means of a unitary interface which is capable of accessing information in a variety of locations, through a number of different techniques". The infringing technology is specifically called out as Android's Quick Search Box, which has been present for years.

The Apple patent in question is obvious on its face. Off the top of my head, Google Desktop Search, which was released a month or so before Apple filed for the patent, is prior art. Nat Friedman's Dashboard project (http://nat.org/dashboard/) represents significantly more advanced prior art and predates Apple's patent filing by over a year.

Samsung may be insidious, but that's not the issue at play here. The judge ruled that Google's Quick Search Box violates an Apple patent that should never have been issued, and represents a toe hold to go after Android as a whole. This is a farce.

I don't feel that this lawsuit is specifically over the four patents in question and only the four patents in question. It's punishment (in the game theoretical sense) for Samsung's institutional attitude. Obviously the discourse here has taken on import beyond the purely legal realities and into a more moral conversation about right and wrong. Morally speaking, I feel that many of Samsung's design decisions are wrong. This isn't to say that Apple is totally clean either, but it bears mentioning that the "victim" here has no problem with seeing how much copying it can get away with, and I see no problem with its getting punished for it once in a while.

> It's punishment (in the game theoretical sense) for Samsung's institutional attitude.

That is not how the law works. That shouldn't be the way any law works!

That's classic ad hominem 101. "It doesn't matter if what you're doing is wrong or not. You... you.. you're dirty! And a jew! You should get sued!"

Well, if the laws and patents worked properly, Apple could sue them for the blatant copying they're doing. Since all of it is non-optimal, Apple just have to shoot what ever patents they can find at Samsung and hope something registers a hit.

If you don't like how the game is played you have to fix the rules. You can't expect companies like Apple to just take this blatant rip off lying down because there is no way to sue for what was actually done wrong.

The Galaxy Nexus doesn't use / have that.

I'm not saying it does. I'm saying Samsung has no shame in copying this closely.

Neither did Steve Jobs. What's your point?

Stealing is not copying. Stealing means making it your own.

Why is such a trend on Google+ relevant?

As much as I would like to embrace Google+ as a Facebook alternative, Google+ has still a very limited audience – and, of course, a very Android-focus audience …

EDIT: Downvoting my comment just because it isn't enthusiastic on Google+? Comm'on!

It is appealing to see a down-voting complaint for an unpopular opinion related to a comment which dismisses a trend on Google+ being irrelevant because the network is relatively unpopular.

I doubt the 75 million people who use Google+ consider themselves a "very limited audience."

Regardless, not a reason for down-voting.

I would have thought using a false claim to denigrate something would be a reason for down-voting.

I downvoted because you presented opinion as fact with nothing to support the claims.

I don't understand why #BoycottSomething should be used for protests. Boycotting an influential company is extremely hard.

I'm sure that there are more rational ways to protest, instead of trying to boycott a company that actually delivers some of the best products. No company is perfect and Apple's case is just a tip of an iceberg in the whole industry.

http://www.dontmakemesteal.com/ is a good example. We know the movie industry sometimes uses intellectual property rights against their customers but there are good ways to fight back without disregarding the merit of the entire thing.

I believe Apple's success still depends on public image more than most. Their products are high quality but some of those from other vendors are very very good as well.

If this label of "evil ugly sociopathic corporation" were to stick they could end up in big trouble.

Check out this tweet: https://twitter.com/joeycmiller/status/219271776394412032

The guy's profile says he's a Marketing professor so he knows the angle he's spinning. But this is the kind of thing I would be really worried about if I were Apple.

What are the other ways to protest? I don't mean that as a rhetorical question. I'm genuinely curious.

Sit-ins have been extremely effective, where there's a free press and where companies want to avoid negative publicity. You can't eject people forcibly without looking thuggish, and reporters flock to them.

Only problem: you actually have to care enough about an issue to risk getting arrested. I'd be surprised if anyone cared that much about Apple's patent trolling.

On a small scale, petitions will work better than a hash tag on a Google-owned website. The person that made the decision is the judge. So a rational way to protest is to protest the decision itself.

On a large scale, make something disruptively innovative to fight back.

#BoycottApple may work by alarming and reminding Apple of their unethical act (to the crowd). But the effect is small because it has nothing to do with Apple's product quality and customer service. If no one buys Apple products any more, we won't necessarily be better off.

That said, I think Apple seriously doesn't have to go this far. If they have the energy to continue innovating there shouldn't be any fear.

The problem here is that we're trying to apply social pressure to a legal problem. Being intensely social creatures, our instincts tell us it should work, or that it's at least worth a shot.

What we're trying to fix is that companies can even get injunctions for stupid reasons, and that patents are used as warfare rather than for encouraging innovation. Boycotting every single company that abuses patents is simply not going to fix the problem, especially since some of those companies don't even sell products.

Look at Righthaven -- a boycott would have been meaningless, but the right case came along and Righthaven lost its teeth. And this only involved two branches of the government! Imagine what you could accomplish if you could actually pass laws to fix the patent system...

Has petitioning or protesting a judicial decision ever affected change? I think I would lose faith in the judicial system in such a thing worked.

Remember Amazon and one-click? There was sufficient backlash that they never tried anything like that again. Could work with Apple.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1-Click#Patent says the revised patent was confirmed and they've been paid for licenses to use it (by Apple and possibly B&N). I don't see any effect the backlash had.

You're not going to change a judge's mind by protesting. But you are going to change Apple's nonsense lawsuits if the negative PR keeps building up against them. And that's what these boycotts could achieve if they become large enough.

If company behaves indecently (like Apple does) it deserves to be boycotted. The fact that it's influential is even a bigger reason to boycott it. Influential crooks are more dangerous.

Not to say you're not right but just about every company behaves indecently. Samsung, Google, Microsoft and others all have their offenses in the people's eye for what is right but this is business and we people should just let it play itself out in court.

As consumers , collectively we can influence corporate behavior. If Companies feels that customers can punish them for such acts they may refrain from it in the future. The point is , the scale of the protest should be big enough for them to sit up and notice

If the patent system is so broken that it's abused by all kind of trolls (including Apple), do you think courts can fix it? Only patent reform can change something. And meanwhile, boycotting works too.

It seems your from USA; I'll assume you mean the US patent system, and I gather that in the USA you elect judges but do you think that the courts should be "fixing" the law. Do you elect the judiciary to alter the law?

Unbiased application of the law seems much more becoming of a judicial system than rewriting of it.

If you have your judiciary do the statute [re]writing then do you want your government doing that too?

Courts don't create laws, they interpret and apply them. Laws are created by the legislative power (i.e. congress). Courts is the judicial power. I.e. to fix this mess, legislative power needs to reform the patent law.

Here is a proposal: https://defendinnovation.org

You said that the patent system was broken and asked "do you think courts can fix it" (my emphasis). I know that in general legislative power is not within the remit of the court (you might say it was ex judica, fnar-fnar) - you appeared to be saying that the courts should be fixing it though, hence my post.

I was asking, commenting on what jaebrown said earlier, quote:

this is business and we people should just let it play itself out in court.

So I asked: do you think courts (alone) can fix it? I.e. really courts won't help, until the law is fixed.

> but this is business and we people should just let it play itself out in court.

I'd be okay if the patents in question were not trivial and something really innovative(like RSA).

Also, consumers should make decisions based on their convictions too. For example, I shop at CostCo instead of Sam's Club because CostCo treats their employees much better than Walmart(which owns Sams) does.

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Gandhi

I totally understand your point but these are the rules in which the game they play in. Each company has the money to make a stand for the change they want to see and if it was truly broken, I think we would see a unified body of tech companies coming together to enforce those changes. Either Congress is not listening or there are some companies that are fine with the current system. The companies I'm referring to are not Patent Trolls because they do not have the money to go toe to toe with a big company like Apple, Samsung, Microsoft or Google when it comes to hiring lobbyist, court fees, legals fee and PR. They're the companies we're speaking of now, that secretly like the current structure. Congress seems to be interested as they have a patent reform bill on the Senate right now.

Consumers should take more of a note on issues of the companies and products they buy but I believe in this case it's irrelevant to them. I too choose CostCo over Sam's Club and Meijers over Wal-Mart because of the same thing you brought up. However, our choices are based on how they treat people and not patents on which a company clearly infringed upon. The basis on why they infringed or if it's wrong or not is not for us to decide but for the courts.

I don't like the current system either but it is the current system.

How is it irrelevant? Consumers should not support companies which engage in crooked anticompetitive behavior. Our choices should be based on something more than how they treat consumers.

It's like "blood diamonds". They might be all nice and sparkling, but really stained in blood. Do you think it's enough to look just at the external value? It's not enough. It's good to vote with your wallet, boycotting companies which engage in unethical business practices.

Using Blood Diamonds as an example is offensive. The two are no where close to related nor should be reference when speaking about each other. All companies engage in crooked anti-competitive behavior. Samsung is not excluded from the list and one of the reasons that this thread exist. Our choices should always be about how companies treat people, not just consumers of their products.

> Samsung is not excluded from the list and one of the reasons that this thread exist.

I'm not following every single example, but when did Samsung exactly act as patent aggressor? Most cases that come to mind were in defense to others aggressive patent threats (namely Apple's). Apple doesn't hesitate to act as patent aggressor on the other hand. There is a difference between defensive attack, and outright aggression.

It's offensive enough to show disrespect towards unethical business practices in which Apple engages (such as abusing patent law for anticompetitive purposes).

> Our choices should always be about how companies treat people

That's correct. That's why companies which promote lock in, stifle innovation with software patents abuse, and etc. cause damage to society. I.e. they treat people badly, for the sake of their profit.

Boycotting Apple is very easy. They have a very limited number of products sold in their own stores. Try boycotting Johnson & Johnson or Nestle.

I've boycotted Nestle in the past and still err away from them as a producer.

It's right that it's hard to avoid buying any single product that sends money back to Nestle or PG or J&J or whoever but it's not hard to cut back practically. Search online for a list of the company's products and try to avoid them.

Like you said boycotting Apple [Computers] is very easy.

I don't think the parent understands how a boycott works. You don't say "I can't boycott company X because their coffee tastes nicer that company Y's"; unless having slightly nicer tasting coffee completely outweighs the moral wrong that you're trying to punish.

The group of people that use Android and the group of people that are vehemently against Apple overlaps quite a bit, so this boycott costs them nothing. It's a bit of sound and fury slacktivism that makes them all happy but accomplishes nothing.

I extremely disagree with you, a boycott is the perfect weapon again a big brand like apple. People just tell others about it, and it's just really bad for their image.

The average person doesn't care. I'm in this industry and I barely care. Watching Google and Apple is like watching NBA players scuffling over the last bottle of champagne. The average person just wants to use their phone, update their Facebook and find out what Snooki is up too. A boycot organized on a site that the muggles have barely heard of over an issue that they don't give two shits about isn't going to affect Apple's share price one cent. In fact their price will likely rise as the Street sees Apple defending their IP successfully.

I would have said that the most targeted audience (of a petition) IS the average person. Who is flooded by choice and will take a bad image into account when deciding what to buy.

Us techies we tend to be more selfish and buy what we need more than what is trendy, what is not etc...

There really isn't much choice in the smartphone market, despite 20 flavors of Android. If your friends have iPhones, that's what you want. Android is popular among the muggles because it's cheaper. Very few people I've met buy Andeoid because it's better, they buy it because of price. The only Blackberry users I know use it only because of their companies. The average consumer doesn't care about 'morals' when they buy something -- if they did, no one would buy Chinese products, the only chicken sold in stores would be fre range and Wal Mart would have gone out of business a long time ago. People either want the cheapest or the best, not necessarily the 'rightest'.

> There really isn't much choice in the smartphone market, despite 20 flavors of Android.

windows phone?

> Very few people I've met buy Andeoid because it's better

Hi, nice to meet you :)

True, but developers are more likely to care, and they matter a lot more than the average user. A lot of developers preferred not to use Microsoft products when MS was the evil empire, and there would probably be an MS monopoly now if they hadn't.

I'm not sure if that was true. Either way, there was money to be made on the Microsoft platform and even though I didn't like Microsoft and their practices myself, I did develop .NET software for a year of 3. At home I just used my preferred OS (Mac OS X) but a man has to make a living.

Developers matter a lot.

Developers know which users and platforms pay out the best (iOS) and this is what guides their efforts. Not patent infringement, injunctions or boycotts.

If it was just about which platforms pay out the best, there wouldn't be much software for Linux, and there wouldn't have been much for Apple during their inter-Jobs nadir.

No, developers don't matter more than the average user, and that fact is the reason Apple sells so many of their products.

Exactly. Developers go where the money is.

But might it be seen by the average potential Apple employee? It's structured as "don't buy from apple", but it also covers "don't work for apple", which they actually need to fear.

That won't work either. A job with Apple is highly sought after. Even jobs in the retail stores get hundreds of applications. Engineers still flocked to Microsoft even during the "dark" days. I don't think a company that had an $89 stock price in 2008 and a $584 stock price now is going to have any trouble attracting top talent. A strong stock price and massive earnings == no problems recruiting.

When it comes down to it, the average employee wants to work on interesting things and be well paid. They want job security. They choose their jobs less from ideology and more on finances, work-life balance, quality of work environment, innovation opportunities. If ideology was a defining factor, then people would be lining up to work for non-profit organizations, which they're not. Some 2-bit boycott attempt by a bunch of hysterical Android nerds will not make a dent in anyone's universe, much less Apple's.

I doubt Apple is shaking in their boots over a silly hashtag on a social network only used actively by 89 people worldwide.

I'm not saying they won't get a flood of resumes for every opening.

But the best people, who know they can get a position at any major tech company, will be weighing Apple against the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon. It's possible that Apple has an edge over those in money/environment/opportunity, but it isn't a clear or solid one. The thought of being looked down on by fellow nerds for working at a patent aggressor could turn the balance.

And building products with 98th percentile engineers instead of 99th percentile is a big deal. Look at Microsoft.

The Yahoo/Facebook litigation brought on immediate support from the community. Yammer came out and gave Yahoo employees an ultimatum: quit Yahoo or never work for us. Will we start seeing something similar due to Apple/Android?

Anyone who would write or respond to a boycott of Apple is already the sort who gets into flame wars against the company to begin with, so it is, as they say, "preaching to the choir." Not likely to have a big effect.

I've owned two MacBooks, a MacBook Pro, and two iPhones, but I won't now. No more. I had no particular reason to want to boycott them then before because they weren't behaving atrociously at that time. The kind of person who would boycott Apple now is the kind of person who would have boycotted Microsoft back in the day, which also happens to be the kind of person (or one kind of person) who would have bought Apple products.

You're right, it's going to tarnish their reputation. But I still find it hard to believe that you'd put aside product quality and preferences because of this. In a couple month's time you'll forget most of the case (and eventually the Galaxy Nexus will come to market anyway). In a year's time you'll be comparing products on technical merits alone. I can't say what your next purchase will be, but I'll bet it will be less affected by this emotional response than you expect.

In a year Apple will probably have done something new to piss off people who care about this kind of thing. If not, then you're right.

More interesting than a bunch of chatter on Google Plus is this article on Forbes, "Could Steve Jobs actually win his thermonuclear war?":


I don't think this will be the last of Apple's actions against Android. When Steve said they'd "patented the hell out of" the iPhone, I got the sense he really wasn't joking.

They've patented the hell out of everything that they've done in the last decade with the iPhone, but the very foundations that they stand on have been patented the hell out of by Motorola, Ericsson, Nokia, etc for the decades prior.

Standing on someone else's foundations isn't the best place from which to start a thermonuclear patent war.

But if those patents are part of necessary standards, they're required to license them to Apple. Apple is not required to license any of its UI patents to competitors.

If you have enough lawyers it is. You can do anything with enough money and lawyers.

In other worss: the justice system is no longer a monopoly of the state on violence. But a for hire entity, where the highest bidder can buy their preferred form of "justice"

This is not a good development, and we can wonder how long it will take before the bric countries choose a radical new direction towards IP.

If it's decades then you're in the clear since patents have a more finite lifespan than copyright.

The initial iPhone patents only have another ten years or so left in them, if that.

Especially as the people you are aiming your thermonuclear weapons at happen to be part of your supply chain (or trading closely with them)

How are you equating standards essential 3G patents to software UI? They don't really have any correlation whatsoever.

There is no content in that "article". He doesn't even attempt to answer his posed question. It comes up only in the last paragraph and all he concludes is "Apple may be tempted to request preliminary injunctions against newer products". What insight.

Gotta get more page views, and based on the comment count vs normal forbes posts, this is the right formula.

This came up not that long ago on Hacker News. If the article headline is posed as a "yes/no" question, the answer is "no".


The people that want to boycott Apple don't even buy Apple products. So good luck with that. And besides that, you should know that Google makes a lot more money from iOS than from Android ($10 average from each iOS device vs $2 from each Android device), so if Apple stop selling iOS devices Google would be harmed in their income.

At least Apple use legitimate patents, unlike the use of FRAND patents of Samsung and Motorola. Nobody is going to make a #BoycottMotorola for using FRAND patents to ban Xbox 360 in countries like Germany?

The South Korean government (owned by Samsung) has been blocking and putting up barriers to foreign phones for years, including delaying the introduction of the iPhone to South Korea, to give Samsung and co. a chance to develop competitors.

I'm glad to see the US government blocking a South Korean product for once, if that is indeed what is happening.

Where is the evidence that South Korea has blocked foreign phones?

I can do the work for you, South Korea for instance banned the sale of games inside the app store for a long time. I have a hard time finding examples where South Korea outright banned phones however.

Even if they did, why would you want the US to follow such bad examples. These policies are not healthy in the long term for a variety of reasons.

South Korea is a rather protectionist country, and drawing a line between the Chaebols (Huge conglomerates such as Samsung) and the government is often hard. By the way, this is not surprising considering South Korea was a US-backed and sponsored military dictatorship for a long time.

However, the iPhone 3GS launched in South Korea 3 to 4 months after its introduction to Europe and the US.

Nokia was active there for years.

Last time I was in Seoul, the new iPad launched to great fanfare.

I mean that the phones were blocked for a while, before they were allowed.

I'm not American, but still I wouldn't mind seeing these South Korean chaebols get a taste of their own medicine.

Protectionism may reduce the overall efficiency of a system, but can be good for the individual actors within that system who implement it. I think Americans are more interested in their livelihoods than in the efficiency of world production. In fact total efficiency should never be our goal; that would make slaves of us all.

The original iPhone was blocked from South Korea for quite a while.

Here's more info on South Korean protectionism in relation to phones: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125367616595333125.html?mod=...

What's the background on https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-aR5Kiv6yGJ8/T_AgxfYEw_I/A... ?

(It's the first time I've seen this comparison.)

Nilay Patel at The Verge had a good post[1] about this when it first came up in April 2011. Besides the fact that the F700 was announced at MWC in February 2007 (after the iPhone was announced in January), There are huge differences in the interfaces that matter in trade dress and trademark cases.

Basically, you wouldn't confuse an iPhone with an F700, while Samsung seemed to design Touch Wiz specifically to do that.

[1]: http://www.theverge.com/2011/04/20/talk-picture-samsung-f700...

We've had smartphones as we know them for longer than people seem to acknowledge. Apple just made a slick UI and went with a capacitive touch-screen.

That is over-simplification of facts. If that were true, why doesn't Samsung leverage the device shown in the comparison to counter-sue Apple?

Edit: Trying to understand the down votes. Would like to hear counter-arguments.

Because they aren't copies, they simply have similar designs. By your logic, I suppose Microsoft could sue Apple since Windows Mobile had an applications list.

Exactly. They aren't copies.

But MS suing Apple - I don't think my logic has any such implication or connotation.

As pointed out in Nilay Patel's article, TouchWiz is an attempt to mimic iPhone look & feel.

If Samsung had evolved their original design, which you had pointed out was not a copy, then it is a different story.

Wow, so people who want to buy Samsung instead of Apple anyway are going to boycott Apple? Apple is quaking in their boots, I'm sure.

I was actually thinking of buying a Mac for the first time just last week, even after being outraged by the Galaxy Tab 10.1 thing. They have good hardware and it's Linuxy, but thank you Apple for acting sooner with this Nexus rubbish rather than later..

So there you go, an actual sale lost and I'll remember this for a long, long time

So then you're boycotting Motorola and Google products as well because they had a similar injunction against Apple in Germany right? If not why?

I find it amusing how emotional tech people get over these patent wars. Its one companies legal team versus the other over legalities and trivialities. If you looked at how often car companies sued each other over look and feel patents you would realize the whole thing is a non issue. If you want to change things start with the legal frameworks that allow it to happen. Complaining that companies are using every trick available is somewhat of a non surprise. You might want to start with the patent office and their granting of patents though.

But "I'll remember this for a long, long time", really? That is quite sad, evaluate technology for its tech, not for the companies legal team. But whatever.

Note: I'm not arguing for or against apple or google and their legal teams with this post at all.

"Evaluate technology for its tech, not for the company's legal team."

No. Doing so means that I can become complicit in legal actions that ultimately hurt me as a consumer by providing companies like Apple with the revenue they need to fund such attacks. One must consider the legal actions, the social actions, etc. of a company when buying their products; it's part of being a responsible and long-term self-interested consumer.

I'm curious then, what exactly do you buy? Almost every company on this planet has done things both legally and socially that would mean you boycott almost all corporations. This would asus is out, samsung, motorola, <insert any major manufacturer of anything here>, how do you correlate this view with the rest of the products you buy?

Do you drive a car and fill it with gasoline or diesel? Then likely you're implicating yourself in the extraction of natural resources and disasters with this viewpoint. While I applaud the concept, it seems a bit restrictive. Note I'm not saying you should deny when companies do bad things like an oil spill disaster, but if we're going to glom on extra responsibilities for corporations that build devices we buy we're going down a very slippery slope that can only end with abandoning modern lifestyles.

Also another question, if patents are granted and being infringed, are you saying companies should not act upon infringement? If yes, then why would companies get patents?

I get that there are compromises made in every decision I make, and that to that extent, I am complicit in the actions taken by the companies that I support. I certainly did not mean to exempt myself from that; rather, I was trying to argue against the philosophy that such considerations should be ignored. While I get that pragmatism is important, I disagree that we can disregard the actions of the companies we support.

As for the point about patents, I think that there's a difference between acting on infringement and actively seeking to expand their patents post-hoc to shut down competition. More broadly, I think that the USPTO needs to be much more selective about patents, to avoid precisely these kinds of problems.

No worries, sorry for the late reply, had to go watch sports and drink beer. :)

I was just trying to find out exactly what it was that sparked your personal boycott and how that extends to other areas of life.

Personally I can't be arsed to care about tech company patent litigation since there are much worse things to worry about. In essence I'm referring to things like child labor/environment damage etc.... I'm not absolving tech companies, but on a scale of 1-10 as to ethical considerations its not that high on the list I would rank.

Basically that's my view in a nutshell, at work so I can't give a full reply, tschuss!

Apple shot first. Google has patents that they can use defensively, I say anything that happens to Apple is fair turn about after the 10.1

You didn't see Google suing Bing over the pagerank algorithm. I'm sure Google has patents relating to map-reduce but distributed computing is still taking off.

If the patent game were played out to its fullest without reform, all innovation would virtually grind to a halt, so a broad gentlemen's agreement is in place not to use patents. Apple don't care, they want to stop innovation so everyone buys their shit. Yes it's capitalism, but it's also marketing, and our consumption choices are the only votes we get in this game.

I'm curious why the patent system in other areas hasn't caused "all innovation would grind to a halt" to occur like you presume.

To play devils advocate here, maybe the entire tech press is much ado about nothing for pageviews. Which is largely what I think is occurring, there is less news in tech so there has to be something to fill in page views.

Also referring to Apples products as "shit" makes me question your general statements. Relax a little and don't take sides on what is inevitably a non-issue. The us versus them group attitude isn't necessary for this discussion.

Note, Google was rather mad at Bing about basically scraping their pages. That said its a different situation entirely and not analogous to the case at hand as they aren't similar in the least.

So I'll ask you the same as I asked before. Given that patents have been granted, should Apple enforce patents they see as infringing on other companies? If not, what determining factor should they use to apply patents? Also, if it wasn't patented by other companies before Apple, why did those companies not patent it? Why should companies only use patents for defense if others are infringing?

If your answer is to win in the court of public opinion I think you are ignoring the legal frameworks that patents sit within. Its a nice pie in the sky opinion, but I think its really shortsighted to imagine a company that is highly profitable to change its ways just to appease a bunch of tech journalists and nerds that often don't have domain knowledge (I'm in this camp as well) to give a true assessment of the situation.

Why do you feel so strongly about this but not about Motorola (and by extension, Google) trying to do the same thing to Apple's devices?[1]

Not that I like any of this, just saying Apple's hardly the only company that does this, they all do it.

[1]: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-06-25/google-s-motorola-w...

Same here. Up to last week I was actively looking to buy a Macbook Air. Was gonna actually buy it next month. If this happened a month later, I would own a mac product. Now I'm officially boycotting apple. I'll have to contend myself with a worse product because of social activism. Apple is making the world a worse place. I won't give them my money.

The comments about "they're all doing the same" are extremely close minded. No, they're not all the same. Look up context and who is defending instead of attacking. If microsoft and apple didn't start this. We wouldn't be in this whole mess in the first place.

While I understand your position, I find it interesting that there is no group of people who are similarly angry and loudly boycotting Samsung phones and other products for consistently taking design cues from Apple.

I personally don't buy many Samsung products, but if they released something that was a leader in its class (similar to how a Macbook is one of the best laptops you can grab) I know I'd buy it despite their current trend of mirroring Apple's designs.

Not surprising. If it was trending on Twitter that would be news.

I agree. This is a trending topic on a Google property, to protest a court ordered injunction on another Google product. Unless this trends on Twitter or reaches Reddit front page, it is of no consequence.

The injunction (but not boycotting Apple in response) made the front page via /r/technology fairly recently [1]. Judging from the comments, Redditors hate Apple's behavior fairly uniformly. However, Reddit (especially /r/technology) has a fairly well-known and pervasive bias against Apple, so do keep that in mind if drawing any conclusions.

It did reach Reddit's front page...It's currently on 7th place.

I'm checking Reddit within 35 minutes of your comment here. I don't see anything related to Apple on the front page - positive or negative. Do things change that rapidly on reddit?

Well..I did a quick search on reddit and found this..and it is trending http://www.reddit.com/r/Android/comments/vv3v2/boycottapple_...

The Android subreddit on Reddit is boycotting Apple? That surprises you?

Even then, I wouldn't be surprised to find the majority of people hopping on the wagon aren't consumers of Apple.

Well said. Also, I don't remember anyone calling for Boycott of Google/Motorola products & services, when Motorola won an injunction against some Apple products in Germany.

Not surprising. If it was trending on Twitter that would be news.

You have news: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4187672

Its surprising because it has stayed their for 2 days. Also most of the technological world (including HN community, based on previous discussion) loath the present patent war which could stifle software innovation based on stupid patents. I wil say Google plus is reflecting the sentiments of Technology Community more then any other social network out there.

Be serious.

Google+ we know has a high percentage of technologically savvy users and in particular Android users. I would be surprised if it wasn't a popular topic on there. But it is no way reflective of (a) the general public or (b) the entire IT community.

The general public does not matter here. This is a technology subject. IT community matters here. As far as entire IT community is concerned I am pretty convinced based on discussions before on HN and other blogs that IT community believes that patent system needs reforms. Taking legal decisions based on broken law is equivalent to injustice.

EDIT : Care to explain why you down-voted this comment?

I didn't downvote your comment. I don't see the point in only talking with people you agree with.

And I don't think there is anyone that doesn't agree that the patent system needs reforming. But where there is disagreement is whether Apple has the right to defend its work and to what extent.

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