Google has decided to speak out against the slew of lawsuits, mostly in regards to patents, that have been slung at Android recently. Denouncing the attacks as a “hostile organized campaign” by the likes of Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, and others. The post, from Google’s Chief Legal Officer, says that Google’s is looking into a number of ways to defend against these legal attacks, which Google says are being used in lieu of innovation as a means of competing with Android.
If you haven’t heard, lately anyone and everyone related to Android seems to be getting their pants sued off by anyone who’s owned a tech patent. Oracle’s ongoing legal struggle with Google over Android has been dragging on for months, even with the recent revelation of Sun’s CEO’s initial support of Android. Microsoft has been forcing Android phone manufacturer’s to pay fees for each phone sold. Meanwhile Apple is still trying to place injunctions to ban the sales of several of Samsung’s Android devices, claiming they are too similar to Apple’s own iOS devices.
Clearly all of these lawsuits, are a bit of a pain for Android. As free, open-source software stack, it is an issue that manufacturers are being forced to pay companies like Microsoft and Apple to sell phones that have software Google’s giving them for free. This, along with lawsuits like Apple’s, Google claims, are attempts to shut Android down, rather than compete with new technology and better products.
Google points that these efforts are uniting, claiming that Apple, Microsoft and others united recently to acquire Novell and Nortel’s patents. They also claim that as a result, patent values are being inflated, due to how strong of a weapon they’ve become in these legal wars.
Patents were created for an important purpose. They allow innovators to receive some reward for their work, which may otherwise be stolen by a larger company with the resources necessary to better implement their work. Today though we’ve seen some debatable patents. My favorite example has always been the patent on unlocking a touch screen phone by sliding an unlock bar across it, a good idea, but enough for Apple to sue other smartphone OS creators?
So where will we go from here? Google is a big corporation, just like Microsoft, Apple, and the rest. The post itself does little to hide that Google’s looking out for itself and Android with this protest against legal battles, but they make some good points. Patents were made to protect small companies and individuals, but now they’re being used as weapons by larger companies.
Will all this come to some sort of head, or will the status quo carry on with patents simply being a parasitic in the system raising costs for everyone involved, and potentially crippling the very groups it was meant to protect? Google sure seems to hope its the first, are they right?