Oh Google, Did You Jump the Gun With that Patent Rant Yesterday? (Updated: Maybe Not)

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More patent garbage, apologies ahead of time.

Remember the epic rant from Google yesterday, having to do with the patent situation in the tech world and how everyone is in bed with one another which is creating a hostile environment?   Their chief legal office even going as far as calling out some companies specifically like Microsoft, Apple and Oracle?   While we all got fired up and excited, agreeing with every single point that was made, it turns out that maybe the “Publish” button shouldn’t have been pressed just yet.  (Update:  Or should it have been?  Google has fired back with some pretty strong comments. We have added them just after the Microsoft part.)    

Microsoft, last night, decided to fire back at Google with an email that was exchanged between the two companies, possibly showing that the Redmond-based software behemoth had actually reached out to see if Googs was interested in joining their Novell patent purchasing group.  Google obviously, turning down their offer.  Yikes.  Brad Smith, from Microsoft’s general counsel also tweeted the following:

So what do we make of all this?  Well for starters, Microsoft may have asked that Google join them in the Novell patent group, but that still doesn’t mean that the Nortel patents which were purchased just a few weeks ago, weren’t purchased to simply attack Android in the “hostile” way that they have claimed.  We don’t really know the whole situation here, nor will we ever.  It’s one of those online troll fights between two mega companies now.  It’s actually looking pretty pathetic from both sides, if you ask me.

Update:  And Google has already fired back with some pretty significant points:

It’s not surprising that Microsoft would want to divert attention by pushing a false “gotcha!” while failing to address the substance of the issues we raised. If you think about it, it’s obvious why we turned down Microsoft’s offer. Microsoft’s objective has been to keep from Google and Android device-makers any patents that might be used to defend against their attacks. A joint acquisition of the Novell patents that gave all parties a license would have eliminated any protection these patents could offer to Android against attacks from Microsoft and its bidding partners. Making sure that we would be unable to assert these patents to defend Android — and having us pay for the privilege — must have seemed like an ingenious strategy to them. We didn’t fall for it.

Ultimately, the U.S. Department of Justice intervened, forcing Microsoft to sell the patents it bought and demanding that the winning group (Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, EMC) give a license to the open-source community, changes the DoJ said were “necessary to protect competition and innovation in the open source software community.” This only reaffirms our point: Our competitors are waging a patent war on Android and working together to keep us from getting patents that would help balance the scales.

I think the big thing here, is that we’re all sick to death of talking about patents and the broken system we have for them here in the U.S.  To think that companies can buy patents, to then turn around and tell their competitors not to use them, is bass ackwards in the way the world and competition and innovation should work.  I completely understand the idea of going after someone who is using technologies that you have patented, but to go out and purchase more, just for the sake of turning around and saying, “Well, we own this now, so you can’t use it anymore,” is completely against everything this country is supposed to stand for.  Here’s to hoping the government does exactly what it did with the Novell group, and helps fuel competition rather than squash it.

Bleh, burnt out on patents.



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