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Google's Six-Front War 249

Posted by samzenpus
from the beware-the-russian-winter dept.
wasimkadak writes "While the tech world is buzzing about the launch and implications of Google's new social network, Google+, it's worth noting that Google isn't just in a war with Facebook, it's at war with multiple companies across multiple industries. In fact, Google is fighting a multi-front war with a host of tech giants for control over some of the most valuable pieces of real estate in technology."
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Google's Six-Front War

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  • Re:Patents (Score:5, Informative)

    by jc42 (318812) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @08:35PM (#36649310) Homepage Journal

    It's not about society. It's about protecting specific interests, to protect industry from the effects of new technology that threatens its existence. From Gutenberg's printing press right up through the present and into the future.

    Ah, but you're ignoring the well-documented fact that copyright was invented well before Gutenberg. The very name dates from before printing technology, when all texts had to be copied by hand, by scribes. And the first documented copyright had nothing to do with authorship; the concept was invented to control the copying of bibles and other religious texts, whose authors were centuries dead (and often unknown). The function of copyright was to legally restrict the production of religious texts to only the versions officially approved by the local rulers, and to keep the number of copies sufficiently low that only the priesthood could get copies.

    The application of copyright to original documents, for economic reasons, was an innovation of the late 15th century, some decades after Gutenberg's work, and a century or so after the first print shops appeared in Europe.

    But most of the history of copyright is about limiting the production of hand-copied text to only "authorized" versions, primarily for religious reasons. The extension to commercial transactions is, historically speaking, rather recent.

    As is so often true now, there's a useful wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] that summarizes this, and includes some useful links (for people who want to actually understand the history rather than just repeat the current commercial propaganda on the topic ;-).

  • Re:Don't worry (Score:4, Informative)

    by grouchomarxist (127479) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @08:44PM (#36649342)

    No one invades Russia in the winter. They invade hoping Russia will surrender before winter. It doesn't work.

  • Re:Patents (Score:4, Informative)

    by ChatHuant (801522) on Sunday July 03, 2011 @08:53PM (#36649386)

    OMG! How on earth did the human race survive for millenia before patents? You're so right, without patents nobody would ever invent anything

    This is really disingenuous. The issue of what we call now intelectual property is not new, and has existed long before patents and copyrights were introduced. Because there was no good mechanism for establishing and enforcing ownership of new inventions and discoveries, many creators refused to make them public, to the disadvantage of everybody else. Many skills and processes were passed only within a family, or a guild, or from master to apprentice, and their secret was jealously guarded. Look at the Venetian Republic, which ensured the monopoly of Murano glass for centuries, by forbidding glassmakers to leave the city; look at many scientists, like Galileo: in order to claim priority for his discoveries, he used to send encrypted descriptions to other scientists (see here [rice.edu] for details), and only make the discoveries public later. It's possible he had even discovered Neptune, back in 1613 (see here [spacedaily.com] for details) but he did not disclose it, fearing somebody else may claim it. As a result, the existence of Neptune remained unknown until 1846, that is more than two hundred years later.

    Or check the thoughts of actual writers living in a period of weak or inexistent copyrights; look at Dickens here [moreintelligentlife.com] or Twain here [nytimes.com].

  • Re:Business *is* war (Score:5, Informative)

    by Locutus (9039) on Monday July 04, 2011 @12:46AM (#36650166)
    the war Google is fighting is really one of protecting and expanding it's ad revenue generating space. Microsoft is out paying to get BING used as the default search( RIM, Facebook, etc ). If those companies were not out trying to block Google from selling ads they probably would not be fighting so hard to get into all those other places. Look at the phone segment. Apple did a great job on their phone but they were exclusive and expensive. so Google comes in and provides a platform for a huge segment of the market Apple was leaving out and Microsoft was floundering in.

    What's really interesting here is that this is a war to block a new paradigm in software and services revenue generation. Google makes money from ad generation and they can share that with the hardware vendors. Mozilla would not be anything like it is today if it were not for the $50+ million they got annually from Google as ad revenue sharing. This scares the shit out of Microsoft, Sony, Apple, the telecoms, etc. They do not want to see their revenue streams diverting to a mechanism they do not control and they are not competent at. The whole Nortel Networks patent buy was basically the old guard blocking the new kid from building a protection wall against them. Right now, you fight patent litigation with more patent litigation but you have to have a patent pool to fight with.

    I for one welcome my now overlords since the old overlords have shown they are not interesting in anything but control and locking us into and onto their products. Products which have stagnated when they have had that control. This is war, it just is not a conventional war and I think Google has to get out into those other areas only because companies like Microsoft have been documented it that they are out to put Google down. Not unlike how Bill and Steve decided Netscape must go, Microsoft has decided that Google must go. They are fighting, they have to fight because if they don't Microsoft will shut them down like they shut down Netscape. IMO

    LoB
  • Re:Patents (Score:5, Informative)

    by martin-boundary (547041) on Monday July 04, 2011 @01:12AM (#36650246)
    All right, here's a little experiment I just did, I'll give you the steps so you can repeat it.

    Quick google search for patent applications [uspto.gov]

    Quick google search for world population [npg.org]

    Now cut and paste the data for years 1963-2010. I've used the 5th column (total utility patent applications) as this seems like it might be relevant. Clean up the data a bit:

    cat patents.txt | awk '{print $5}' | sed s/,// | grep -v '*' | tac > pat.txt

    cat population.txt | egrep '(^19|^20|^21)' | sed s/,//g > pop.txt

    Now if you load this in octave, you can make a quick graph:

    plot(pop(:,1), pat ./ pop(:,2)) [tinypic.com]

    As you can see from the graph, the proportion of patent applications from around the world is roughly constant until about 1990, then it suddenly jumps up.

    Obviously, this only represents US patents for a rather short time period compared to human existence, it would be interesting to find data to extend back two centuries if possible.

    Does anyone know what happened in 1990 in the US to change the patent application rate?

  • Re:Patents (Score:5, Informative)

    by NoOneInParticular (221808) on Monday July 04, 2011 @05:11AM (#36650902)

    Does anyone know what happened in 1990 in the US to change the patent application rate?

    That's a rhetorical question, right? Beginning 1990's the US courts, in a couple of landmark cases, decided that software patents were legal. What you're seeing is the ensuing land-grab.

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