I’ve been following the Android mobile patent crusades closely, largely with the aid of Florian Mueller and others who have been kind or fervent enough to lend their wisdom and logic to the processes involved.
PaidContent’s Tom Krazit provided a fine analysis of the battles waged by Apple and Microsoft on one side, and Google and Android OEMs on the other.
Here is the rub: Android is a source of wounded pride for Apple and Microsoft. Why?
Android may or may not have been built on the back of patents (for diplomacy’s sake) these companies own. These are likely patents that should not have been granted in the first place. Android threatens iOS and Windows Phone 7, so of course, it’s being challenged by Apple and Microsoft. Rightfully so, and amen to that.
Krazit eloquently nailed the issues, and provided some interesting insight into just how screwed up and “backassward” the patent system is. It’s like a maddening spiral of convoluted legalese.
Krazit explained Google’s reason for wanting to own patents as a defense mechanism:
“With patents, even ones that it doesn’t necessarily believe are legitimate, Google could promise to make life more difficult for those suing it by filing its own patent lawsuit, which would have to be considered on its own merits and would raise the possibility that these disputes end in settlement talks and royalty negotiations, rather than court rooms and injunctions. So without patents to hurl back at accusers, Google is extremely vulnerable to getting sucked into expensive patent trials that may never amount to anything, or, in the worst case scenario, could ruin the company even if the patent at issue is a joke.“
He then calls this a stupid, colossal waste of time. That it is, but it’s the game as it exists. Google is just playing it.
I have one quibble with Krazit’s follow-on point that: “Google’s continuing problem, however, the one that exposes it to such criticism, is that it continues to believe that it is somehow different from its competitors, who it suggests are not playing fair and are just jealous of its success.”
I’ll go back to what I noted in an eWEEK piece last week. It’s not that Google believes it’s different; it’s a trick of misdirection to convince anyone who will listen that it’s being wronged and persecuted.
It’s no different than Google arguing that it should be permitted to buy X,Y and Z companies to help boost competition in the space and improve Google’s products along the way.
We all know that when Google buys search and ad companies, it puts more distance between itself and the competition, regardless of whether it’s Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, Expedia, Kayak or CitySearch.
That’s why these companies are waging subterfuge behind Google’s back to the Justice Department or Federal Trade Commission, which was sold enough by these rivals to look at Google for antitrust violations.
That may work for the DOJ and FTC, which begrudgingly bless Google’s deals, but Google’s antics won’t help it in court. The judge in the Oracle case is increasingly favoring the plaintiff. And an Oracle victory will set a dangerous precedent for future Android suits.
Krazit is sure right though when he says there’s a game out there, and you either play or get played. It’s a game out there, and Google is playing it like the leader of the gangsters, which it is with search and Android.
And now, for an Omar Little homage from “The Wire,” courtesy of Google’s YouTube Website: