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Oracle has been dealt a setback in its legal campaign against Google's Android OS. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office struck down multiple claims in its patents, upon review.  (Source: Bloomberg News)

Google continues to grow more dominant in the search and advertising markets with every passing year. However, the U.S. may have trouble bringing charges against Google, as having a monopoly, in and of itself is not illegal in the U.S.  (Source: WSJ)
You win some, you lose some as they say

Google Inc. (GOOG) received some happy news from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office(USPTO).  Oracle Corp. (ORCL), who contends that code used by Google's Android smartphone operating system infringes on patents held by Oracle acquisition Sun Microsystems, was dealt a setback by the USPTO who recently reexamined three of its patents.

I. Victory Over Oracle

Oracle's patents pertaining to Java were dissected during a re-review by the USPTO.  Of the 66 claims in the patents, 50 of them were subjected to reexamination.  Of those, 46 of them were ruled invalid.  At a 92 percent invalidation rate, the USPTO is sticking close to the 90 percent rejection rate that academic studies found it averages during re-reviews.

If Oracle's remaining four patents receive similar treatment, Oracle's six patents could be reduced from around 168 claims to around 51 claims.  Further, as some of the remaining claims are likely dependent claims, the damage to the patents will likely be severe, if the current course is followed.

Depleted of its legal firepower, Oracle may be forced to drop the case or offer Google a favorable licensing settlement.  In short things are looking very good for Google in the case.

II. Google Staff Face Subpoenas

In the bad news department, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is reportedly preparing to issue subpoenas of Google staff in the investigation into whether it abused its dominant search and web-advertising position, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Subpoenas are a key tool to investigators as they can provide key testimony and insight into a company's inner workings.  While the investigation is currently only a probe, the results of the subpoenas could lead to a full fledge investigation.

Antitrust lawyers say it will be difficult to prove that Google acted illegally and abused its internet monopoly.  The company is facing lawsuits that claim it looked to crush small service competitors in the Android ecosystem, using underhanded tactics.  However, emails obtained in these cases show Google employees learned from the 1990s antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and were more careful about what they committed to writing.

That said, Google has set aside $500M USD, according to financial documents, to cover possible antitrust fines.

Google, currently under investigation being formally investigated by the European Union for antitrust violations, serves approximately two-thirds of internet searches.  The company's rivals accuse it of deceptive display of search content, using rival firms' content without permission, manipulation of search results, and buying out would-be competitors.

Describes, an industry group representing Microsoft, Expedia, Inc. (EXPE),, and Sabre Holdings, "Google engages in anticompetitive behavior…that harms consumers by restricting the ability of other companies to compete to put the best products and services in front of Internet users, who should be allowed to pick winners and losers online, not Google."

Finer details will likely be ironed out as the FTC balances Google and its competitors’ statements.  Nonetheless, subpoenas would make the first major probing of Google's competitive behavior, not pertaining to a specific acquisition.  For that reason Google's executive management can't be too thrilled about this development.

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Long ago...
By wordsworm on 6/25/2011 5:57:28 PM , Rating: 2
I used to use Microsoft's search engine when it gave results that came from articles in its online encyclopedia. I stopped going to that search engine when it asked for money to access that encyclopedia. That's when I made the thus far permanent switch to Google, which fetched up links to wikipedia articles which thus far remain free.

In any case, while Google is not always benevolent, I do not think they are as malevolent as MS, and hope that they do not attack it with the same vigour.

Google has given me Sketchup, Google Earth, Blogger, as well as the search engine, all of which I use regularly. Google books haven't really impressed me yet, and that whole issue with their effort to change copyright rules in the way that they did is the only bone of contention I really ever had with the company. I can't see myself ever switching from FF to Chrome or from Linux to Android, nonetheless, the amount of good Google has done for the international community really ought to buy them some reprieve. (not that I expect it to).

RE: Long ago...
By Master Kenobi on 6/27/2011 7:20:54 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't matter how much good you do. If you are the big dog, everyone aims at you and fires relentlessly. There is nothing people love more than to hate the top dog and prop up the under dog.

RE: Long ago...
By sprockkets on 6/27/2011 7:50:46 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah but, I hated microsoft when they were on top, and of course I hate apple regardless.

I don't hate google.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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