>I wouldn't be surprised if Google paid $1M each for the 1,000 IBM patents they bought.
A billion dollar transaction does not happen quietly, and IBM would have no reason to keep it quiet. This was strategic for IBM (which is actually a bizarrely responsible corporation): They have a strategic interest in seeing Google empowered.
A billion dollar transaction does not happen quietly
It wasn't very quiet (that it happened). People think Nokia may have gotten $630M from Apple as licensing fees showed up in the quarterly report. Of course there isn't a line item that says, "From Apple". My point is that people just knew a transaction took place, but didn't know the price. This is the same thing with IBM. Maybe IBM sold for less, but they're not stupid. They could empower Google and get a lot of money at the same time. As you say, IBM is responsible, and responsible companies don't leave money on the table.
Terms of these sorts of private negotations and settlements are usually kept quiet. Often part of the agreement itself.
Came out and said what? This is just providing more detail to exactly what Google said before. Discount whatever second hand noise you've read elsewhere: Google has been very consistent thus far (they derode patents when they made their $900 bid on the Nortel patents, for instance. They didn't learn to hate patents after losing), and this inside detail does in no way change or undermine what they said yesterday.
Microsoft and Apple don't want Google to have defensive patents (patents that both of them know that they infringe on in droves, otherwise they wouldn't be concerned about them).
They should have worked to remove all of these patents off the table as cheaply as possible. The available cash that MS+Apple simply dwarfs what Google has.
Dwarfs is a gross exaggeration. Further both Apple and Microsoft have shareholder responsibility. Microsoft has already made questionable judgment calls to maintain the upper hand -- billions of dollars in patents to make a few hundred million a year in extortion fees, while empowering their own primary competitor (Apple)? It's extraordinary. Apple shareholders are going to start demanding their cash back if it looks like one giant ego pile.
And Google can't quietly buy patents because the people selling want to get as much as possible for it. Well except for IBM who just wanted to stick a gank in Oracle.
The fact that their current IP strategy seems to be to buy IP is absurd.
Many of the patents that Microsoft and Apple are using against Android precede the mobile explosion. They are older companies, having had a long time of big profits to pay people to sit around submitting patent applications.
Would you mind pointing out where Google made that argument?
Because Google didn't make that argument, no matter how terribly M G Sielger may misinterpret it.
"They’re doing this by banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the “CPTN” group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the “Rockstar” group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them;"
That's what Google actually said. Google partly owning them in concert with Apple and Microsoft does nothing given that Apple and Microsoft are the primary antagonists of Android.
Not at all. Microsoft and Apple simply want to make sure that Google has nothing to counter their patent attacks with. They don't want Google to have them. Now Google sharing them with its two biggest antagonist...even footing a part of the bill...no surprise that they don't mind that.
That's not what it says though. Drummond said, "Google didn't get them", period. You either get them (which they could have) or you don't. Now you can add to that with additional constraints and rationale, which is what Google did in their update, but it's no longer the same statement. It's not a simple clarification, but a change of statement.
Google tried to give the impression that they were blocked from getting the patents at all. Now they reveal their true motivation, which wasn't a simple "get them", but rather a more nuanced "we wanted to get them, and also have them not get them, so that we could use them against them". I think this is a perfectly valid reason Google gives, but its not what they were trying to evoke in their first blog post. They were trying to tug at heart strings at first -- this update is just kind of like, "Oh, big companies doing what big companies do -- again."
>I posit that android would not be on the market in the touch-screen form it is now, if Apple hadn't made its inventions public due to the patent process.
You made this claim yesterday as well. It is so ridiculous that I find it hard to take the rest of your comment seriously.
The iPhone most certainly showed consumer acceptance of a touchscreen. It was a consumer test that demonstrated that the lack of a physical keyboard and minimal physical buttons is acceptable if not preferable by customers. Did any patent application teach anything technical, though? That is laughable.
>People seem to presume that patents are on ideas, and that people are patenting really obvious ideas.
Most patents are on ideas.
There have been a tremendous number of misunderstandings or outright lies about patents on here-
-patents are not some great mystery only known by a few, and are overwhelmingly boilerplate. Every single independent claim stands on its own and can be infringed.
-some have posited that patents are highly specific and no one is qualified to comment on them save super experts. Any criticism of a patent will yield a "you have to look at the specific claims!". Yet here's Apple's own patent lawyers description of why HTC Android handsets violate their patent-
"the Nexus One includes Android's "Linkify" functionality, which "take[s] a piece of text and a regular expression and turns all of the regex matches in the text into clickable links. This is particularly useful for matching things like email addresses, web urls, etc. and making them actionable". That is the meat of it. The rest of the text is boilerplate expanding on the concept of "on a computer".
-patents do not need a working implementation. As others have pointed out, people have patented perpetual motion motions, among other hilarious patents.
I don't think that Gruber was making a case for software patents.
But he was. He is arguing that only a small handful of patents -- those used to attack Apple and/or app store developers -- are the problem with the patent system. That is directly in the section quoted.
His argument seemed to be that instead of Google lobbying to rid the world of software patents, they seemed to be playing the same game as MS, Apple & Oracle by bidding on the Nortel patents.
Google is essentially the bitch of the patent world right now, simply because they're a younger company and a land claim occurred. They can both appeal for changes -- which that very blog entry does in droves -- while preparing for the reality that nothing is going to change overnight.
Google will likely acquire a lot of ammunition (the IBM purchase puts them in a very interesting position relative to Oracle, threatening Oracle's entire platform), make life painful for its competitors, and then will be in a position to call for change without everyone declaring, as they are now, that it is merely convenience.
Google is essentially the bitch of the patent world right now, simply because they're a younger company and a land claim occurred.
I think the real problem with Google is they're using open source technology. This makes yout a lot more susceptible to patent lawsuits.
Back when I used to control patent budgets one of our rules was that things we patented had to be discoverable. That is, if someone infringed, but it was hard to prove, it wasn't worth spending the money on a patent. Just keep it a trade secret. With Android everything is available by just looking at the source code repository. With iOS, WebOS, WP, and RIM, you have to do a fair bit more sleuthing to see if they're actually infringing.
He recently posted a link to a story about Amazon removing the various buy bits from their app, which the snarky commentary "That wasn't hard, was it?"
A few hours later he completely changed position to one where he was mildly critical of Apple for making the app less user friendly. I suspect his overwhelming bias just became too strong for even him to bear.
"They actually force competition-- and they give a leg up to all of your competitors by quickly bringing them up to speed on the state of the art."
Are you seriously arguing that competition uses software patent applications to get up to speed?
"If the patent system didn't exist, and Apple didn't reveal its inventions, android would be 7 years behind the iPhone."
"They'd still be at the drawing board trying to figure out how to make multi-touch work."
This is so wrong on so many levels that your argument is precisely what I criticized in my other post (that is, perhaps rightly, being moderated down to oblivion). Do you really think Apple invented multitouch? They neither invented the phsycial mechanism (they have nothing whatsoever to do with capacitive sensors), nor the concept itself. Aside from obvious examples like the movie Minority Report (and many that came before), which Apple apparently shamelessly ripped off, it has existed on industrial touchscreen for well over a decade.
The single and only reason Android avoided multitouch, despite the software and the hardware being capable, was that Apple won the race to the patent office. No one learned anything from their patent, nor did Apple invent anything beyond adding "on a mobile device" on their application.
That example alone demolishes your position on software patents.
Nobody is arguing that Apple invented every piece of technology that went into the iPhone, but it certainly wasn't the case that all their competitors were moving to multitouch based phones at the time.
The RIM thing was a giant lie. Remarkable that anyone ever thought it was true, much less would be referencing it now. The random message board commentator, seeking aggrandizement among their fellow fanboys, quickly disappeared and erased their history from the net, worried that their fiction would hold legal consequences.
As to Android, it is entirely possible that it went from being a Blackberry clone to instead being an iPaq clone. You know, the iPaq circa 2000 or even earlier. The one that was all screen. Sure it used a stylus, but that was courtesy of the limits of the resistive touchscreen technology.
I'm not sure what point you're making. There were plenty of smartphones that existed before the iPhone. Many of them had icons and some had touch screens. None of them resembled the iPhone in 2007 any more than they resembled the Newton or Palm OS though.
>But Android OS doesn't resemble an iPaq, it resembles iOS.
Both have significant similarity to a year 2000 iPaq. Full screen mobile device using a touchscreen against an icon grid, onscreen keyboard, etc. The iPaq was a "PDA", however, which somehow differentiates it. I owned one. I know how they are similar.
>You keep inferring that everything presented in the original iPhone was an obvious extension of what we'd seen before, but it simply wasn't.
No, I'm not inferring that whatsoever. I am arguing whether its uniqueness is patentable. We've seen with various iterations of iOS that it is borrowing from its competitors as well. That's how the world works.
You illustrate the root of the problem. You are not aware of what the multi-touch patents cover, what the inventions are, and you are not aware of what patents are and so you think the movie "minority report" and non-multi-touch touch screens are "prior art". (And FWIW, the stuff in minority report was conceptualized based on the research that was being done by what is now Apple.)
I've learned that you cannot argue facts with ideologues-- you will just make up your own facts, as you have done.
You can have the last word. I'm not going to debate this. I really, actually, don't care that you're anti-patent. I believe the anti-patent position is an ideological one that doesn't care about the facts... it is purely political. It is also anti-startup and anti-capitalist.
Minority report was released in 2002. What about interfaces in Lawnmower Man (1992) or Johnny Mnemonic (1995)? Or endless other sci-fi?
Sit a UI designer and an engineer down for a couple of sessions to talk about a touch screen (x,y coordinates coming into software from human hands) anytime in the last fifty years and they will come up with the concept of gestures in at most a few hours. What about Douglas Engelbart's work or the work at Xerox in relation to Apple's later ridiculous attempts to claim the windowed GUI as their own?
You accuse others of making up facts but you are ignorant of quite a few.
>The point he's making is that showing a rendered clip of some UI is not prior art, as far as patents go
While the discussion was targeted more at the actual value of software patents (i.e. what specifically Apple 'invented' with their multitouch patents), in actual practice yes such a movie is prior art if the novelty of the patent is the application of multifinger gestures. The idea that you need to show a working implementation is nonsense, and has never been a requirement of the patent system.
Regarding warp drive, the novelty of multitouch is the mere concept of using multifinger gestures on an interface. The novelty of a warp drive is the mechanism of achieving warp drive, not the concept of it.
To put it another way, if you patent a method (or system) of making a car fly, maybe that's an invention. Patenting the concept of flying cars, however, is not.
>You are not aware of what the multi-touch patents cover, what the inventions are, and you are not aware of what patents are and so you think the movie "minority report" and non-multi-touch touch screens are "prior art".
I know exactly what the multitouch patent covers, and yes the basic principals are almost entirely demonstrated in the movie Minority Report. Apple did not invent or have anything to do with multitouch sensors, nor were they close to the first to implement such a sensor.
But you're sure that Android "stole it" (or apparently that they learned great insights from Apple's patent application), which is PERVERSELY wrong on so many levels.
When people say "I'm not going to debate this", it's because they have nothing to debate. You've said nothing of value beyond alluding to a laughable patent example while making absurd claims about the insights gained from patents.
In order to patent something, you have to reduce it to practice. That is to say, you have to actually make it work, in the real world.
That Stephen Spielburg was able to do it with computer graphics has no bearing on the validity of someone making it exist in the real world.
The reason I am hesitant to debate this issue is because, as you have amply demonstrated, the anti-patent people often don't even understand what a patent IS, let alone what is relevant as "prior art", and are so exceedingly hostile, and often, quite frankly dishonest (e.g.: you'd have to understand what a patent is in order to understand the multi-touch patents.) that it is just a waste of time.
Literally, I am tired offending the trolls. There is nothing to debate, because I've made my case, and you're just going to object and object and object and find another movie to reference and be proud (rather than humiliated!) at doing so!
> In order to patent something, you have to reduce it to practice. That is to say, you have to actually make it work, in the real world.
This is false. I could patent the idea of using, say, a camera's sensor to recognize the species of a plant based on a leaf without any idea of how I would actually build such a thing (what algorithms would be required, etc). I could similarly patent the idea of tracking a user's eye movement to control a user interface, without the slightest clue of how to track a user's eye movement in realtime.
To take one small example - if you were to pull up patents related to virtual reality, the claims (which tend to be written in the mid-1980s) are all ridiculous, the dreamy technology simply didn't exist to build the proposed ideas (i.e. computers small enough to stick on people's heads), but they were still patented anyway.
You spend a good 90% of each of your posts saying nothing of value but instead offending me and pandering to the crowd, desperately trying to drag yourself to some higher ground where your complete lack of facts is overlooked. I hope no one falls for it.
>That Stephen Spielburg was able to do it with computer graphics has no bearing on the validity of someone making it exist in the real world.
Again, what did Apple invent? The concept of multitouch? No, not at all. The screen itself? No, not at all. The interface rudiments? I will say it again that most of them were demonstrated in Minority Report. Specific algorithms to detect movement?
You are the one claiming that Android stole this grand invention, so I ask again - what did Android steal? We know it wasn't the idea, or the physical sensor...and I highly doubt they stole the algorithm...so what?
Maybe go look at the actual patent lawsuits against HTC, Samsung et al., they aren't hard to find.
Maybe you can submit a copy of Minority Report on DVD as an amicus brief and the judges in those cases will say "oh shit, hn_decay's brilliance hath shone a light where before therewith was only shadow" and declare Android "free and open forever"
>Maybe go look at the actual patent lawsuits against HTC, Samsung et al., they aren't hard to find.
You say so much while saying so little.
Apple's assault on HTC is a perfect demonstration of the failure of the patent system. Dozens of trivial, laughable patents such as "recognize an email address in a string of text", patented decades after such techniques were commonplace. Do you want to show one with actual value, instead of alluding to some great argument foundation that you don't actually have?
Oh, hey, look, Android isn't actually open. Yuk yuk. What relevance does that have, beyond just partisan posturing? Who cares?
You know thousands of patent holders are realizing the potential value of their patents, looking longingly at Apple's $75 billion dollar cash pile (poor guys. Everyone is stealing their stuff). It will be interesting to see how positions change after Apple comes under constant, unrelenting assault. I already see people like Gruber trying to differentiate patents by their holders, which is so ignorant and fanboy-driven that it should embarrass him.
Any patent can be made to look obvious by quoting half a sentence. Clearly you have no idea what that patent covers, I've only skimmed over it but iirc it was recognizing certain things then giving you a pop up list of choices based on what to do with them. There may have been more to it. And that patent may in fact be stupid and obvious, or it may not, IANA patent attorney.
And you clearly aren't either, even though you can dismiss every possible patent Google might be accused of infringing on while accusing everyone else of being a fanboy...
"Oh, hey, look, Android isn't actually open... What relevance does that have"
I was referencing the iceberg of irony that your good ol' ship (the HMS Zealotry) keeps crashing into.
Perhaps this is an unfair caricature, but it has been my observation that the vast majority of "pro-software patent" supporters are misguided fans of either Microsoft or Apple. They seldom have anything to do with software development, and their perspective is seldom enlightened or nuanced.
Strawman, unfair, bigotry, whatever -- I would love to be proven wrong. I have yet to hear a pro-software patent argument that isn't littered with corporate partisan nonsense.
I have yet to hear an anti-patent argument that wasn't just repetition of the "patents are wrong" ideology.
I'm actually neutral on patents in the sense of "what would be best in an ideal world". But the bottom line is this- my work is not free unless I choose to donate it. Thus in exchange for giving you my work, I'm going to require a license. If you steal it, you've stolen it, just as if you stole a car.
But wait-- if you steal my car I don't have it anymore, you say, but if you steal my technology, I still have it, you say.
And yes, that's true, but it is irrelevant. If you want my technology enough to steal it, then my technology has value, and it is property, just as anything else I might build with my own hands is property. It isn't that technology can be replicated-- after all, I don't hear you saying software shouldn't be copyrighted or sold-- it is whether you can get your copy without paying me for my work or not.
Just because software or a patent can be replicated, doesn't mean it isn't property and isn't valuable.
Am I knocking down a straw man? Well, you didn't actually make any argument-- you just disparaged people who have a different point of view. So, that forced me to guess what your argument was, and then respond.
I do this so you understand that I am capable of making an argument... I just find the anti-patent people rarely give actual arguments to rebut.
I suspect you are conflating the copyright/anti-copyright issue with the patent/anti-patent issue.
I don't know what "patents are wrong" ideology you refer to. The arguments I see against patents over and over are concrete examples of small companies coming into trouble because they did something obvious, and do not have the legal and financial muscle to handle it, to for example have the patent invalidated because it is on something obvious.
Patents are supposed to help small actors fight big ones, not the other way around. Software patents have come into a bad light because they frequently do the latter.
You mix up patents and copyright. You are right with copyright - I copy your code, I know I do that and that's why I'm ok with copyright protection. With patents people don't steal it - they don't even know you own it in most cases. Because software development would grind to a full-stop if you had to check every time you code something for all possible patent violations. Even lawyers have a hard time figuring out which code breaks which patents - software developers simply have no chance doing that on their own anymore. Patents are the wrong protection scheme for software for the same reason they are wrong for example for protecting book authors (imagine "Happy Ends" or similar ideas would be patented...).
If you want my technology enough to steal it, then my technology has value, and it is property, just as anything else I might build with my own hands is property.
Perhaps, but the market for this technology is completely inelastic. Regardless of the money/effort/time required to develop this technology, you get the exact same monopoly guarantee in the form of the patent. And you can charge whatever you want for a license, even if that price is entirely unreasonable. You can even be discriminatory, and charge different people different amounts. Or, worse, you can refuse to license to some people, or to everyone.
For a technology that took significant money/effort/time to develop, I can agree with patent protection. But most software patents are comparatively trivial.
Does it? If you can come up with the idea -- lateral thinking or not -- in a couple hours, then any number of other people could do so too. In that sense I don't find the idea "valuable" enough to warrant strong patent protection.
Patents are an economic tool, not an "I'm clever so I should get paid" tool. The point is to help people push aside concerns about time and money when developing a new idea. Because if a competitor of equal skill can duplicate your work in a fraction of the time, just because they have access to the results of your R&D, that's a strong incentive not to even bother in the first place. So it's about time and money, not about smart thinking or elegance.
(Regarding patents in general, even this argument falls apart a little bit for me. I think trade secret law is sufficient in many cases where patents are traditionally used.)
Your argument is ludicrous. My position on software patents mirrors the general complaint about software patents -- overwhelmingly they provide a monopoly on trivial, obvious, or inevitable "inventions". Your position on multitouch alone is a perfect example, really -- they didn't invent the hardware, didn't make the first implementation, and it had been predicted by mainstream media a decade in advance, but because Apple had the foresight to patent it first (even Microsoft Surface has years on Apple)...invention. Hardly.
There are novel software implementations. That applies to vanishingly few software patents.
I'd rather ask society if they're better off, because that is the argument that you're trying to make isn't it? That patents are a good idea, not that they're a system that it's easy for individuals to game for financial reward.
The alternative to patents is either less innovation (see countries with weak IP protection) or massive secrecy.
I think you'd be hard pressed to prove that weak IP protection leads to less innovation. I'd argue that it's equally as likely that the causation is reversed; that is, countries that do more innovating will eventually have stronger IP protection, whether the actual innovators want it or not.
Massive secrecy is the current state of things even with patents. Patent language rarely discloses any information that would be of use to a software developer. Software developers almost never read patents when implementing their own systems, with a few notable exceptions (such as the case where someone wants to implement a well-known patented algorithm).
Your mixing ip protection with software patents. Avatar is protected by copyright. Nobody disputes the need for that. Even hardware patents are often fine. To "patent" the idea that (and this is one of many examples" ) you can buy something with only "one click" is silly. There are probably patents on filling list boxes, ordering checkboxes in thee columns, goofy crap like that. This is why HN people (many of them programmers like me abhor software patents. )
Patenting a specific very complex algorithm -specifically- might be ok, but general ideas are not.
hn_decay... Regardless of the validity of your comments, you just played the "fanboy"/'Godwin' card.
That's a virtual mutually assured destruction move. You won and lost and the debate is now a fallout zone.
Perhaps, but it is entirely pertinent. Many of these pro-patent positions, I suspect, are entirely rooted in the feeling of belonging to a certain community. See Gruber's bizarrely hypocritical piece which mirrors that public sentiment.
I believe that software patents are overwhelmingly farce, whether they support Microsoft in attacking Apple, Apple against Samsung, Samsung against Apple, or any of various IP ventures against App Store developers. It is not a position that varies based upon the actors.
The pro-Apple lobby, however, has a position that essentially holds Apple's patents as legitimate and righteous to enforce, but everyone else's as illegitimate for various reasons. It is farce to criticize lodsys and others for entirely legal IP protections -- as the system supposedly encourages -- while supporting Apple and their like behaviors. Whether a company is open to counter-attacks is irrelevant to the legitimacy of patents.
Virtually everyone who interacts with HN relies upon Linux (for instance as the foundation of their startup). Linux infrgines on countless Microsoft patents. Thus far Microsoft has treaded lightly, but I don't think it's tough to imagine how sentiments would change if they started laying the hammer down, shutting down every cloud host, etc. The simple love of a gadget has many supporting an incredibly dangerous position.
But sentiments are changing. I argue for the exercise of it, but there is no doubt that dramatic software patent changes are coming due.
Right, you can't argue the facts so just be disparaging. The Microsoft Surface came out in 2008, not "years" before Apple showed the iPhone.
You're absolutely uninformed about even the basic facts or timeline, yet you're happy to make broad assertions and engage in attacks to the person. Well, where I come from, that means you lost buddy, and I have no further need to rebut you.
Indeed. And once Google stocks up on thousands of purchased patents (humorously they just bought a bunch of database patents from IBM, which I have no doubt they're going to start leveraging against Oracle), you will be fully supporting it as they start demanding injunctions and stoppages against Apple and Microsoft products. Right?
Those products that, to put in your don't-understand-software-patents way, STOLE from other people's innovations?
Because it's coming, and it's going to be ugly for everyone. The patent nuclear war approaches.
Your facts seems to opine that Google should simply suffer the system. They didn't make the game, but they are a young company in a industry of longstanding titans. Apple nor Microsoft nor anyone else has a right to billions in quarterly profits for perpetuity.
Once Google has the patents to start injunctions and stoppages, they can get their competitors to the table. That's not nuclear war.
Google is a young company, but it's been in the phone industry at least since it bought Android in 2005. Apple created its iPhone and released it in 2007, so in the phone industry, Google's the senior.
No one has a right to billions of quarterly profits, but no one has a right to violate others' intellectual property, either. Apple and Microsoft are profiting at these levels despite the infringement of other companies.
I don't know what's incredible about it. That a company that copies things might infringe patents?
Do I realize that Apple infringes patents? Yes. Are you aware that Apple doesn't cry about how it's the end of the world and we're all going to have to pay more for the next iphone because they had to write Nokia a check for Nokia's previous and substantial innovations to mobile?
That a company that copies things might infringe patents?
Wow, seems like you have a pretty big bias here. That hurts your argument quite a bit.
Are you aware that Apple doesn't cry about how it's the end of the world and we're all going to have to pay more for the next iphone because they had to write Nokia a check for Nokia's previous and substantial innovations to mobile?
It's one thing to license a patent filed and wielded in good faith. Google already does that as well for lots of patents.
It's quite another to collude with other companies to buy up huge patent portfolios for the sole purpose of extorting your competitors and stifling competition. That's what Apple/MS/etc. appear to be doing here. Obviously I can't speak to their motivations with authority, but that's how it looks from the outside.
"It's quite another to collude with other companies to buy up huge patent portfolios for the sole purpose of extorting your competitors and stifling competition.."
Wait I'm biased but according to you, Apple is using this for the sole purpose of extortion? Come off of it. Back here in the real world Apple has probably paid out many times more in patent suits then it has or will collect any time soon. Why can't Apple be using these defensively as well?