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Google Patents Apple

Google Says Some Apple Inventions Are So Great They Should Be Shared 347

Posted by timothy
from the gem-of-an-idea-in-there dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In attempting to fend off Apple's suit against Motorola Mobility and advancing its own patent litigation against Apple, Google, which is facing a lot of regulatory scrutiny in the U.S. and abroad over what some allege is abuse of standard essential patents, has been arguing that proprietary non-standardized technologies that become ubiquitous due to their popularity with consumers should be considered de facto standards."
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Google Says Some Apple Inventions Are So Great They Should Be Shared

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  • Google's desires (Score:4, Insightful)

    by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Saturday July 21, 2012 @08:33AM (#40722849) Homepage
    Google wishes to embrace and exploit.
  • Bad Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CajunArson (465943) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @08:36AM (#40722865) Journal

    That strategy might work in the media to get people angry at Apple, but it's a bad idea in a court. You are basically admitting that Apple is right, but then saying it doesn't matter because it "oughta be" a standard. At that point the judge will say: thanks for admitting Apple is right to save me the bother of the trial. Not a smart move.

          Considering what Apple's patents tend to be about (swip to unlock anyone?) they may be annoying but they aren't what I would call "standards" in the way that 802.11 is a standard.

  • Re:Bad Idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:07AM (#40723007)

    Please show us a source where Apple claims to have patented the concept of a 'rectangular portable touch screen'.

    [Citation Needed]

  • Spin doctors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slasho81 (455509) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:07AM (#40723009)
    Apple's PR is doing a great job. Way to spin something into a provocative flamebait. Google didn't say what the title says it did, but timothy just couldn't resist.
  • Misleading summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dell623 (2021586) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:11AM (#40723019)

    The summary is misleading. What Google is saying is that if certain patents are considered standard essential for communication (3G, WiFi etc.), then parents on touch screens, scrolling etc. should also be considered the same. Apple would not be forced to share them, they would be forced to license them at a fair cost. Right now, Google-Motorola cannot use their patents the way Apple uses theirs because they are classified as FRAND, whereas Apple can use their patents to force import bans on Motorola and HTC products, for example. Apple would still be paid for the licenses to those patents, but would not be able to refuse to license them or charge an exorbitant fee.

    The alternative would be to, you know, not issue broad patents for scrolling and slide to unlock etc.

  • by JayDiggity (70168) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:12AM (#40723029) Homepage

    Are you kidding me? Do you think the average (even above-average) user wants to go through PAGES and PAGES of radio buttons? Rounded vs. sharp corners? Why not allow them to determine just HOW round? Now we've gone from radio buttons to sliders everywhere.

    Seriously, customize EVERYTHING? You can do that in Linux - look at how well that worked out for the consumer.

  • Monopoly vs patent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomhath (637240) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:12AM (#40723035)
    Google's argument actually makes sense. As I read it, they're saying that a company which holds a patent on technology that is essential to meet an industry standard must license it in a Fair, Reasonable, and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) way. But a company that has such a strong market position (i.e. a monopoly) can use patents to exclude competition. So Google is saying that FRAND should apply whether the technology is required because of an industry standard or because the patent holder has a monopoly.
  • by jedidiah (1196) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:25AM (#40723077) Homepage

    That's kind of why there is a patent system.

    Patents aren't supposed to be a virtual land grab. They're supposed to be a means for companies to disclose useful trade secrets.

    All human progress is based on "embrace and exploit". This includes just the fact that you even exist as well as your cushy lifestyle. It also includes this forum.

    All of that is dependent on centuries of what modern corporate shills would call "theft".

  • Re:Bad Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gbjbaanb (229885) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:27AM (#40723093)

    true... swipe to unlock is nothing like, say, GSM radio communications.

    that's why the GSM patent is licensed at 1p per device and swipe to unlock licensed at $1m (if not an entire country's worth of imports of that device).

    The reason we have so many shite patents is because of the financial shakedown they attract. Making them 'de facto' and thus next-to-worthless would be a start in fixing the software patent problem.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:31AM (#40723107)

    This could be extended to anything. You could say that Coca Cola's trademark is so strong that competitors have to charge uneconomically low prices to compete with it - hence they are unable to compete because they are not named Coca Cola. Therefore, the brand name is simply required to compete, and Coca Cola should be forced to allow people to sell under their brand in a Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory manner.

  • by perrin (891) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:33AM (#40723117)

    Samsung, Motorola and other old players in the telecoms game have a huge problem today because for many years they have been playing reasonably nice with each other. It used to be that the players came together in standards organizations, agreed on standards, promised to license them to each other on FRAND terms, and then competed on implementation. Then a new kid comes to town who wants everyone to license it their FRAND patents without giving any back.

    Apple, like Microsoft, hates to offer their own patents as FRAND, and only ever tries to create formal standards when they need to subvert another standard. They are the masters of de facto standards. Since the old players are now desperately abusing their FRAND patents as leverage in patent negotiations, they have a difficulty in calling Apple out on the hypocrisy of this.

    However, the big loser in all of this is us. Since FRAND patents are so weak in aggressive patent wars, and antitrust bodies are now looking to make them even weaker, companies will stop making FRAND promises. The result will be less standardization and more lawsuits, leading to less capable and more expensive products. Hence Google's point is actually a very good one.

  • by Karlt1 (231423) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:34AM (#40723127)

    "Right now, Google-Motorola cannot use their patents the way Apple uses theirs because they are classified as FRAND, "

    They were not "classified" as FRAND by some random group of people. Motorola chose to submit their patents to a standard body and agreed to license them under FRAND so they would be part of the standard.

  • by Karlt1 (231423) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:37AM (#40723133)

    "But a company that has such a strong market position (i.e. a monopoly) can use patents to exclude competition. So Google is saying that FRAND should apply whether the technology is required because of an industry standard or because the patent holder has a monopoly."

    So does that mean that Google is willing to release the implementations of their search algorithms?

    And how is Apple "a monopoly" when Android supposedly outsells iOS 2-1?

  • by vakuona (788200) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:39AM (#40723143)

    Google-Motorola should not have gotten their patents included in a standard if they intended to use them to beat other competitors over the heads with.

    FRAND standards are about interoperability. If you can't implement the 3G standard, you cannot make a smartphone, and the market breaks down.

    If you can't use slide to unlock, you can do something different. Annoying as it might be, the very fact that people think slide to unlock is trivial means it shouldn't matter. You could use a combination of the physical button and a soft button to unlock the screen, or may ask the user to touch four points in order. There are way to work around that patent.

    However, you cannot work around a patent essential for 3G, therefore it is right that limitations (FRAND) be put if you want a guaranteed return on your investment, which is what being in a standard gives you.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2012 @09:50AM (#40723193)
    A joystick in a car would be stupid. Cars are not fly by wire systems; they are mechanical (with some hydraulic support via "power steering", but even when the power steering fails the car can be controlled via the mechanical wheel). Can you imagine the force required to control a car via a joystick if you had to keep it mechanical? If you then made it a completely drive by wire system, you just added a bunch of complexity and failure modes to what should be a ubiquitous and (fairly) inexpensive object. You've taken a simple, cheap design and made it cost more simply to have a less efficient steering mechanism. Why? It is designed pretty damn well now.
  • Punishing success (Score:3, Insightful)

    by J'raxis (248192) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @10:13AM (#40723299) Homepage

    The term for this is "punishing success." Create a technology that's too successful and pretty soon people will call to have it stolen from you for the "public good." And naturally they will mask their naked desire for such theft with terms like "sharing."

    Note that I don't support software patents---I don't support the idea of patents, or "intellectual property" [eprci.com], at all. But so long as we're going to have the government pointing its guns around at people, protecting businesses' intellectual assets as if they're real property, the idea of selective enforcement of patents, especially based on criteria like this, is even more repugnant than "IP" itself.

    So! I hope Google will be equally as cheerful when the government comes in and wrenches all of their technologies away from them because they've become so ubiquitous! I mean, if there's anything "everyone" uses on the Internet nowadays that ought to be "shared," it's Google search, right?

  • by peragrin (659227) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @10:22AM (#40723339)

    apples pricing on the Ipad is only becuase they manufacture one or two styles at the same time.

    What the competitors need to do is to stop pumping out new models and build just a couple high quailty models

  • by Riceballsan (816702) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @10:51AM (#40723503)
    Almost all of the ones I saw in the PDF were pretty bogus ones. Claims by competitors that google pushes it's own results to the top of the results. So far I've yet to see a case for that one presented convincingly, the top results tend to be whatever is most often the more popular item, in things that google is the most popular, google's items show up, in the ones they aren't their competitors show up. Then warnings and alogations of patent abuse. Can you even name a time google used a patent offensively? Can you crop out the fat and point out 1 or 2 that google was actually ruled guilty in, most of those are either undecided or not found not guilty. I'm not saying google isn't debatably bad, I'm saying that particular list is focusing on pretty ridiculous stuff. Google deserves quite a bit of flack in the privacy area, but their patent practice in the phone arena? I've yet to see them do anything shady in that arena besides attempt to cover their own ass from incoming fire.
  • Re:Bad Idea (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 21, 2012 @11:15AM (#40723615)

    If you think minimalism = no design, then you have no business spewing your ignorance around Slashdot.

  • Re:Bad Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo (59147) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @12:02PM (#40723845)

    Actually, if you actually read those arguments, and the patents that back them up, they include things like the arrangement of the home screen, etc.

    But if you get all your information from Slashdot and various bloggers in the form of sound bites, then yes, black rectangle.

  • by mspohr (589790) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @12:40PM (#40724149)

    I believe that it is the government which sets up the laws which protect private intellectual property. Without these government patent laws, there would be no way to protect intellectual property. Anarchy would allow the free flow of ideas without these artificial barriers to embrace and extend.
    Not sure how John Galt would resolve the conflict between "government is evil" and "government must protect my private property" since it has been 50 years since I read those polemics.

  • by am 2k (217885) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @12:42PM (#40724169) Homepage

    You can't patent an idea.

    Now you have to explain how software patents without full source code included are different from an idea.

  • by jmactacular (1755734) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @01:17PM (#40724415)

    "Others can embrace and extend when the patent expires."

    The problem with that line of thinking, is not realizing that all that is created is evolutionary. Everything we build is done in small incremental steps, building on what was just built. No one goes from a horse and buggy to a Ferrari. You go from a horse, to a horse and buggy, to a motorized carriage and so on. Everything that Apple or anyone else has built, was done standing on the shoulders of giants.

  • by am 2k (217885) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @01:25PM (#40724473) Homepage

    No, source code has no value except as A METHOD of explaining the idea. It is not the idea.

    Well, that was my point. A patent is supposed to protect not an idea, but a concrete implementation, like a steam engine. You can't patent the concept of accelerating a car by heating some gas, you have to actually show how it is supposed to work (by using diagrams and text). However, you can patent the idea of clicking on a button to buy something in an online store, or using a shopping cart to represent the items you're about to buy there.

    The only way to perfectly specify how a software idea is supposed to work is by showing the code. Everything else is vague and could be written by just about anyone. Patents were supposed to protect the inventor, not somebody with a typewriter/word processor and some vague idea. Originally, patents were required to include a working physical model of the implementation. Unfortunately, that's no longer the case.

    In addition to that, actually implementing software is the hard part, not coming up with ideas for software. However, that's a holly different topic and not covered by current IP laws at all.

  • by oxdas (2447598) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @01:40PM (#40724573)

    Good job. I think you make a strong argument against software patents. If software patents are indeed the patenting of ideas rather than concrete implementations, then they should not be issued.

  • Re:Bad Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tgibbs (83782) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @04:20PM (#40725361)

    A design patent does not claim ownership of the individual elements of the design, but rather rights over the specific combination of those multiple elements [peanutbuttereggdirt.com]. So it is more accurate to say that Apple has claimed rights over devices that resemble an iPad in multiple ways, overall shape and proportions being only one of those.

    It is quite clear that Apple created something. It is instructive to look at tablet design before and after iPad [osxdaily.com]. Prior to the iPad, the overwhelming industry opinion was that pad devices were niche products with no large consumer market, and that consumers far preferred netbooks. That opinion was not without basis. Multiple attempts by multiple companies to develop a pad device had failed.

    The iPhone similarly challenged conventional wisdom and completely transformed cell phone design [cultofmac.com]. Yet now, multiple manufacturers are simply insisting that it is impossible to think of a phone design that would appeal to consumers that did not look pretty much like Apple's design. Of course, before the iPhone, they thought exactly the same thing about Blackberry's design.

    Apple's history of transforming consumer electronics extends back to their introduction of window-based GUIs for consumer computers. Any one device could be luck, but Apple has done it repeatedly. No single feature of any of those devices--the Mac, the Macbook Air, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, can be reasonably said to be responsible for their success; rather, it is the particular combination. So the objections to Apple's design patents are much like insisting that a famous chef should not be renowned for his signature dish because he didn't invent beef, or garlic, or pepper.

    Does patent or copyright law protect Apple's particular brand of creativity, which has repeatedly transformed the user experience of consumer electronics? Perhaps the law offers no real protection for this kind of creativity; I don't know. But there is certainly a reasonable argument that the law should encourage companies like Apple that genuinely innovate in the area of design, and that are willing to take huge financial risks in introducing designs that challenge the conventional wisdom.

  • by rtb61 (674572) on Saturday July 21, 2012 @10:30PM (#40727215) Homepage

    The comparison is false. There is no new idea. The intent of computers is to replicate manual or analogue methods of doing things in a digital computerised format, using computer hardware and software, that is a straight up logical process. As computers take a greater part in the interaction between people and the activities they conduct, so more of those interactions are 'digitised'. Putting more devices in one space is a simple direct product if miniaturisation and making use of existing hardware with the minor addition of new hardware. Whilst the hardware itself should certainly be patentable if it requires new manufacturing techniques, the software should not ie it is simply the logical algorithms, the formulas inherent in making the hardware function.

    The whole idea of falsity of patenting every shift of known existing method and idea from analogue or manual use to digital is simply a US greed based lie. Nothing new, no new idea, no creation, just lawyers, lobbyists, corrupt politicians, greed and bullshit. You can shove rounded corners on rectangles where the sun don't shine along with slide to lock and any other kind of anticompetitive profit jacking up bullshit.

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