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Motorola Scores Patent Wins Over Microsoft, Apple 158

Posted by Soulskill
from the like-watching-a-game-of-tennis dept.
tlhIngan writes "This week is Motorola's lucky week; they've won twice in two separate patent suits. First, an ITC judge has ruled that Microsoft's Xbox 360 has violated 4 of 5 patents related to h.264. This is just a preliminary ruling (PDF) and both Microsoft and Motorola will face an ITC panel later this year. In the other case, the ITC judge has ruled Apple violates a 3G patent, one that a German court ruled that Apple didn't violate earlier this year. "
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Motorola Scores Patent Wins Over Microsoft, Apple

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  • Motorola Scores Frand Patent Wins Over Microsoft, Apple

    It will be interesting to see if this will play into the EU investigation.

    • by symbolset (646467) *
      Just because some of these patents are FRAND doesn't mean that they don't need to be licensed at all. Both of these companies are using Motorola's patents without even engaging in negotiation for rights. That's not allowed.
    • Frand Patent

      You know, I've been wondering, if it would be possible to make an argument based on the "Fair" portion of FRAND; that the relationship goes both ways, with Fairness involving a two-way element of reciprocity between parties.

      As such, it could be argued that cooperation should be an integral part of receiving FRAND licensing, and Apple was not playing nicely with others.

  • by Concern (819622) * on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @05:20PM (#39787921) Journal

    And by reform, I mean, abolition?

    Come on guys. It never works. The only people getting rich off it are the lawyers. The rest of the world is laughing at us over it.

    Let's put those dollars towards creating jobs and innovating.

    Hello, Obama? Anyone home? There's a campaign donation in it for you from a few big tech luminaries, I'm pretty sure.

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @05:33PM (#39788021) Journal

      Hello, Obama? Anyone home? There's a campaign donation in it for you from a few big tech luminaries, I'm pretty sure.

      Sadly, that's not correct... most "big tech luminaries" happily use patents as cudgels to prevent little guys from entering their staked-out territories, or to push out anyone who gets in their way.

      I'm not seeing any big tech corporation wanting to remove what is arguably becoming their biggest (and still legal) weapon to fend off or tame the competition.

      After all, look at how much money Microsoft has managed to score from 'selling' Android to the manufacturers so far...

      • by Concern (819622) * on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @05:53PM (#39788227) Journal

        I think at this point a great many are over it (Google, IBM, and the entire FOSS industry) and if enough of the patent countersuits succeed against Apple and Microsoft (the most prominent non-troll offenders), there will be a time where even they are willing to stop throwing good money after bad.

        I suspect many execs who would not publicly admit it are getting sick of the patent lawyers already.

      • Yes, the big tech luminaries were very successful at preventing smaller companies from taking over their territory.

        Let's list some examples:

        AT&T prevented the Cisco from replacing switched circuit POTS.

        IBM prevented Intel/Dell from running them out of the hardware business.

        Moto and RIM prevented Apple from running them out of the mobile telephone business.

        NOT.

        Don't forget that today's tech giant is yesterday's pip-squeek upstart.

    • The rest of the world is laughing at us over it.

      European lawyers are slavering over it. And Chinese lawyers. And Indian lawyers. And Bolivian lawyers. And even Lower Slobovian lawyers.

    • by evilviper (135110)

      The rest of the world is laughing at us over it.

      They are? Really? Because it seems the biggest economies are the same one who enforce software patents. USA, Japan, Germany, South Korea, etc. So who's laughing at us, exactly? France?

      Patents in general have clearly gone off the deep end in the US, and need to be reigned back in, but IP laws in general are quite beneficial when handled properly.

  • Isn't it interesting how the tech industry is increasingly about patents?

    Does Moto even make phones anymore? But who cares? As long as they have good patents, they can make money.

    • Isn't it interesting how the tech industry is increasingly about patents?

      Not really. Technology requires an investment to develop. Once that development is done, it's easy to replicate just by observing the final product. For some reason people around here really don't understand that. I suspect sensationalist headline poisoning.

      • Oh, you are serious? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Concern (819622) * on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @06:18PM (#39788485) Journal

        OK. Here's how software patents work.

        There are hundreds of thousands of them. None of them required any investment to develop. They simply memorialize things that everyone always did - commenting inside of curly braces, using tables for compression, having the "AM" flip to "PM" when you scroll the hours past noon, having plugins in web browsers and "one click purchase buttons" and so forth.

        No one can ever know what their work infringes on. Not even Microsoft or Google, who have carte blance budgets for such things. They simply write code and wait to get sued.

        Even if the software patent fairy came down and waved her little magic wand, and you could know exactly which hundreds or thousands of patents you infringed, it would be worthless by tomorrow. Thousands of new patents are filed every day.

        The only effect that software patents can have is to make every piece of code a ticking patent time bomb.

        The scam was supported by a few, like Microsoft, because they saw it as a way to prevent competition and hurt free markets. They need only send part of their multi-million dollar legal team to the patent mines and amass a "war chest" that would enable them to sue others, and countersue when they were, themselves, inevitably brought to court. This would have the effect of making it impossible for anyone to write software without having a multi-million (these days multi-billion) investment in patent lawyers.

        The only reason the U.S. has a functioning software industry is that the practice of using these patents is so repugnant and ridiculous that most businesses and all individuals ignore them.

        Unfortunately, in their haste, cupidity and basic ignorance of cause an effect, backers like Microsoft neglected to realize that they would create a new kind of company, called a patent troll. These companies would buy patents that Microsoft was violating, and sue them. But Microsoft's patent war chest would be unusable as a defense, because patent trolls are very careful to do absolutely no useful work of any kind. Their entire business is suing the people who do actually do useful work. MS has already had 9-10 figures in judgments come in against them from trolls and they have had a few close calls with actually having to pay out.

        If you are wondering who created software patent law, the answer is, not congress. Some lawyers tried it, and it flew, and it's happened all on its own - a little power grab by the patent bar and the USPTO.

        This is partly why so few industrialized countries other than the U.S. have a software patent regime the way we do, because it is so prima facie ridiculous. They have been rejected in Europe and Asia. We are an international laughing stock for having such an obviously corrupt practice.

        Meanwhile there is very little basis for software patent law to exist even on this basis in the U.S.. The Supreme Court has already famously struck down patents on i.e. math equations, which are vanishingly similar. They came quite close to explicitly striking down software patents already in En Re Bilski. The whole game will be up before long - no one has any choice. The more the practice grows, the faster it chokes itself off.

        Good day, sir. Respond if you like, I won't read it.

        • They simply memorialize things that everyone always did - commenting inside of curly braces, using tables for compression, having the "AM" flip to "PM" when you scroll the hours past noon, having plugins in web browsers and "one click purchase buttons" and so forth.

          [Citation needed]

          Specifically, find a patent that claims one of those things, and then find a reference that pre-dates it showing someone doing that. Mind you, the reference has to show someone doing what the claims say, not just doing something similar to the title of the patent. There are tens of thousands of patents titled "wheel" or "engine"... They're not all claiming "wheels" or "engines".

          No one can ever know what their work infringes on. Not even Microsoft or Google, who have carte blance budgets for such things. They simply write code and wait to get sued.

          Yes, but the nice part is that you're not going to be responsible for damages until you do get notified that you

          • I am fascinated by your post - which I contains so much information that is outright wrong as to appear to be a deliberate attempt to advocate by deception.

            [Citation needed]

            Can you cite a software patent that has merit? I have read close on 50 at this point and seen hundreds of summaries and have yet to see it.

            For further reference, a post by a different user. [slashdot.org]

            Yes, but the nice part is that you're not going to be responsible for damages until you do get notified that you infringe.

            This is part of how software patents kill the economy and destroy jobs, because the "damages" are a legal negotiation of unlimited dimension and cost, that can be hel

            • I am fascinated by your post - which I contains so much information that is outright wrong as to appear to be a deliberate attempt to advocate by deception.

              Thanks, I think. Of course, you've not shown any of it to be "outright wrong", so I'm not sure what your specific gripes are.

              [Citation needed]

              Can you cite a software patent that has merit? I have read close on 50 at this point and seen hundreds of summaries and have yet to see it.

              Happily, but before I do so, I'd like to call attention to your goalpost moving. You stated "[Software patents] simply memorialize things that everyone always did - commenting inside of curly braces, using tables for compression, having the "AM" flip to "PM" when you scroll the hours past noon, having plugins in web browsers and "one click purchase buttons" and so forth," and I merely

              • by Concern (819622) *

                Slashdot, I present to you a case study: the intelligent person arguing in bad-faith.

                We've seen them before. But let's study the technique in this case.

                Of course, you've not shown any of it to be "outright wrong"

                Technique: "the bold summary." The skimmers in the audience may be fooled.

                Of course, he could have claimed it gladly, had he explained how any software developer can determine what they infringe upon.

                Or if he had said, "Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc. have a patent compliance process for all their code, and here is where you can read about it..." But he knows

            • Can you cite a software patent that has merit?

              RSA? Someone working in GCHQ invented the same algorithm a few decades earlier, but didn't disclose it. In the intervening period, no one came up with it even though there was an obvious need for this kind of cryptography. I'd say it's pretty close to the canonical example of an algorithm deserving a patent: not obvious, not trivial, documented well enough that anyone could implement it, and with a clear use.

              On the other hand, things like Marching Cubes are pretty obvious - it's basically the naive w

          • >"Vanishingly," as in "the similarity you speak of is irrelevant."

            Actually - quite the inverse - it's not a similiarity but an EXACT REPLICA. No wait, that's still not the right word, it's not even a replica - it's the EXACT SAME FUCKING THING.
            If you think there is ANY difference between mathematical formulas and software programs then you don't know computational theory at all. There isn't. A software program IS a mathematical formula, it is merely a formula specifically intended for a Turing machine -

            • >"Vanishingly," as in "the similarity you speak of is irrelevant."

              Actually - quite the inverse - it's not a similiarity but an EXACT REPLICA. No wait, that's still not the right word, it's not even a replica - it's the EXACT SAME FUCKING THING.
              If you think there is ANY difference blah blah blah...

              If you bothered reading the post, you'd see that I acknowledged that there's no difference and pointed out why that fact is irrelevant to the patentability of software and why it's based on a misunderstanding of the Supreme Court's decisions.

              Amazing how quickly you can latch on to one sentence, miss the rest of the paragraph, and prove that you're an ass:

              You sir, are just plain ignorant.

              • If you bothered to read the link I said you would find that it specifically addresses the rest of your post including showing that the supreme court was in error. It points out current research into functional proofs for software programs which will in the near future allow for a whole new type of debugger that determines whether a program is free of logical bugs by testing it as a mathematical function and determining if it is a valid proof.
                The early stages of this research already exists - thought it's n

                • If you bothered to read the link I said you would find that it specifically addresses the rest of your post including showing that the supreme court was in error.

                  Yes, yes, I know. I've read the paper many times. You don't seem to understand, going before the Supreme Court and saying "you're all idiots, see this paper" is not going to succeed.

                  Additionally, it misses the point. The Supreme Court didn't say "math is unpatentable because it's math," but rather because it was abstract. Software is math, but is only unpatentable if it's similarly abstract... but it doesn't have to be.

                  • The supreme court was just plain wrong. The US law specifically excludes maths from patentability, not just "abstract" maths.

                    These papers ought to be filed as friend-of-the-court briefs in these cases, so that judges can actually know what they are really dealing with.

                    But now I'll really bake your noodle. I wrote this blog post about a year ago - but I'll copy and paste it for you with a link to the original at the end - I set out to prove that software is always abstract, and succeeded... it was ridiculou

                    • The supreme court was just plain wrong. The US law specifically excludes maths from patentability, not just "abstract" maths.

                      Actually, it doesn't. The three concepts - "laws of nature, mathematical algorithms, and abstract ideas" are explicitly grouped, so they must be considered in terms of common characteristics.

                      Additionally, while your post is interesting - and thank you - I still don't see that it supports your conclusion that all software is abstract, merely that it supports the conclusion that all software - or rather, encoded versions of software - are numbers. Abstraction, however, is a much broader (and vaguer) concep

  • by Anomalyst (742352) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @05:24PM (#39787953)
    Then the patent is invalid.
    The world is ill-served by "imaginary Property"..
  • I think the patent system is fundamentally broken. Isn't it that patents should help you to give birth to a vision (not trivial things), without being stolen/copied from competition? So you get the patent, manage to produce the product and sell it, that's OK. But if you screw up your patent, you can't deliver, your company goes bankrupt, etc. it would be good to delete the patent and make it unpatentable, open for everybody ! NO SELLING, BUYING, SPECUTAION ! IMHO BTW: I thing Douglas Adams invented the
  • h.264 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mugurel (1424497) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @05:29PM (#39787997)

    ...violated 4 of 5 patents related to h.264

    So this is the next standard for video on the web they're talking about?

    • Re:h.264 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @07:21PM (#39789123) Homepage

      A big sigh of relief from Mozilla I think. This is exactly why they wanted to keep out of h.264. It wouldn't be the patent payout for either licensing or fines, but the cost of lawyers that would cripple Mozilla.

      I don't know why Mozilla didn't just "move" the development from the USA to a European country where software patents do not exist. Rich people do it with money to avoid tax, surely Mozilla could do it to avoid patents.

      • by stiggle (649614)

        They didn't move development to Europe because the USA would still find them infringing.
        Just because you're not in the USA doesn't mean that the USA won't sue you.

  • Ans. whatever the patent holder thinks the market will bear. In other words, it's an almost meaningless agreement.

    The people who craft industry standards like H.264 need to do better than this.

    • "Fair" in this context means we abuse all our victims equally.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      FRAND is really about non-discrimination. I can't force vastly different terms on a company just because I don't want to compete against them , for example. Usually, FRAND has some sort of patent cross-licensing involved with a small payment attached. The benefit to the original patent holder is that they gain security against being sued by their competitors. It is supposed to ensure that companies compete on products and not with lawyers over competing patents. I think the status quo has changed so ra

      • by Tough Love (215404) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @07:25PM (#39789177)

        Usually, FRAND has some sort of patent cross-licensing involved with a small payment attached. The benefit to the original patent holder is that they gain security against being sued by their competitors.

        Oh, how that smells like cartel.

        • by bws111 (1216812)

          How is that a cartel? If a farmer goes to market to sell milk, and he runs into another farmer with eggs, he can swap some milk for some eggs. He then runs into another farmer with some potatoes, and he swaps some milk for some potatoes. Along comes a city guy, and the farmer asks what he has to swap, and the city guy says 'nothing'. The farmer says 'ok, I'll take cash'. Is that a cartel?

          A cartel fixes prices and production. It has nothing to do with cross-licensing patents.

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @05:38PM (#39788067) Homepage

    Note: This is Motorola Mobility, which ultimately means Google.

    • Which means a cross-licensing agreement will be put in place ending the Microsoft tax on Androids. I guess that's a win.

    • by DragonWriter (970822) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @07:25PM (#39789173)

      Note: This is Motorola Mobility, which ultimately means Google.

      Except that it doesn't. Google will inherit anything Motorola Mobility gets out of this if China approves the acquisition, but until then Google doesn't have management control over Motorola Mobility.

    • by russotto (537200)

      Note: This is Motorola Mobility, which ultimately means Google.

      I imagine a few of those who sneered at the Motorola/Google deal are eating their words about now.

      Who you going thermonuclear on now, Zombie Steve Jobs?

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @05:41PM (#39788103)

    Given Microsoft's bullying of Android - an area where they don't even compete - I'm quite happy to see them coming out on the short-end of this stick. When I buy Android it's in part because I don't want to give my money to Microsoft or Apple. Now let's see a good strong Apple defeat such that Motorola (and other Android vendors) resolve these issues through cross-licensing instead of money.

  • It's approaching quickly.

    Joshua/WOPR: Greetings, Professor Falken.
    Stephen Falken: Hello, Joshua.
    Joshua/WOPR: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

    --
    BMO

  • Google Wins! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by TheNarrator (200498) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @05:43PM (#39788137)

    So Microsoft and Apple both wanted to screw up web video by only supporting the heavily patented H.264 standard instead of Google's open Web-M standard. So Google went and bought Motorola Mobility and is now throwing their own patent strategy back at them. If they claim H.264 isn't patentable than they lose that way otherwise Google can charge huge royalties and make them pay for being so greedy.

    Brilliant chess moves as usual by the Google team.

    • The insane amount of money spent to buy Motorola might almost be worth it.

    • Re:Google Wins! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tough Love (215404) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @06:56PM (#39788853)

      It's amazing how much the moral and ethical standards of Microsoft and Apple have converged, and it is not because Microsoft improved.

  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't the title be "Google Scores Patent Wins..."? When Google buys Motorola mobile division they take ownership, no? And yeah, what has been/will undoubtedly be repeated, retool this joke we call 'Patent Law'.

    • Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't the title be "Google Scores Patent Wins..."?

      No, because Google doesn't own Motorola Mobility yet (and may never own it) since the Chinese government still hasn't approved the purchase.

      When Google buys Motorola mobile division they take ownership, no?

      Yes, if Google is allowed to buy Motorola Mobility, it will take ownership, but that hasn't happened yet, and might not ever happen.

      • by ppanon (16583)
        The weight of the Chinese government is not to be underestimated, and Google is not exactly in their good books given past head butting over search and censorship. That said, since the US and EU have both given the go ahead, I wonder if Google/Motorola might decide to tell the Chinese gov. to go stuff itself if the answer is no. Losing the Chinese market and manufacturing facilities would hurt, but the main markets Motorola sells to these days are probably still Japan, S. Korea, the EU, and the US. Chinese
  • by Grayhand (2610049) on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @05:56PM (#39788265)
    "In the other case, the ITC judge has ruled Apple violates a 3G patent, one that a German court ruled that Apple didn't violate earlier this year." The courts aren't an ass it's just where they keep their heads. How can anyone hope to abide by copyright rules when even the courts can't sort out the mess!
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 24, 2012 @06:42PM (#39788691)

      How can anyone hope to abide by copyright rules when even the courts can't sort out the mess!

      Because as it turns out, German and American courts abide by different laws.

      • by msobkow (48369)

        +10 if I had the points.

        Too many people assume that US law applies everywhere. Just because terms like "patent" and "copyright" are common amongst many nations of the world does not mean they follow the US interpretation.

        Just look at Canadian's enshrined right to make backups vs. the US DMCA for an example.

    • by gparent (1242548)

      You're right, they should've pushed for Earth's Court instead so they could rely on international law rather than the laws of the United States in the United States and those of Germany in Germany.

    • This is about patents, not copyright. It's well known (at least, inside software development circles) that software patents rules are very different among countries, unlike copyright, which has more or less been unified by the Berne Convention.

      Just because lawyers try to convince us that all "IP" is equal doesnt mean it's true.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    And so began the great Worldwide Patent War of 2012.

    Motorola launched and scored a hit with their patent.
    Apple and Microsoft panic and fire off their arsenal of patents. Facebook, Samsung, Google, IBM, etc. all get pulled into it.
    Yahoo! takes the opportunity to launch a sneak attack at Facebook. The patent scores a critical hit with the assistance of a clueless judge setting a new precedent.
    Patent trolls rejoice at this and proceed to crawl out of the woodwork to start flinging their own patents around...

  • Because for the last 20 years Moto has sucked as a company and generally failed at everything. Trying to save the company through lawsuits is a sure sign of that.

  • OK, so any big company gotta have lawyers to deal with business issues but geez, I remember back in 20th century when Motorola made components (transistors, ICs), TV sets ("works in a drawer" I remember seeing the commercial then going to a friend's house to pull it out and see inside), and the best two-way radios. They were really ***expensive*** but damn them Mocom-70s can easily last 30 years, couldn't be narrowbanded but take the trunkmount units and be used as armor plating. And the HT-200s can chock a
    • by Asic Eng (193332)
      They split the company - e.g. the semiconductor division is now Freescale, so you hear less of them because they are now a smaller company. Also Motorola is being bought by Google for the patents - they probably want to show they are worth it.

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