Print 40 comment(s) - last by Tony Swash.. on Aug 7 at 7:36 PM

David Drummond, Google’s senior VP and chief legal officer, seen here on the right.  (Source: Reblogging Donk)

Brad Smith, Microsoft General Counsel and Senior Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs   (Source: Microsoft)

Frank Shaw, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Corporate Communications   (Source: Microsoft)

Email exchange between Brad Smith and Kent Walker  (Source: @fxshaw)
Google is taking fire from all sides when it comes to its Android operating system

I. Android Rises, Competitors Look to Cash In

When it comes to its prized Android operating system, Google is being attacked from all sides. According to the latest market share numbers from Canalys, Google's worldwide market share with Android-based smartphones is just under 50 percent. Likewise, for every two iPhones that are sold, five smartphones running Android are sold.

With Android already taking over in the smartphone sector, and preparing for a surge in tablets, Apple is looking to cut Android device makers off at the knees with lawsuits claiming patent infringement [1][2][3][4][5]. 

Microsoft is looking to get in on a piece of the action as well. It is already collecting a reported $5 for each Android-based HTC device sold as a result of a patent settlement. Microsoft is also looking to collect as much as $15 per handset from Samsung (Samsung is reportedly willing to settle for around $10 per handset). 

Throw in ongoing litigation with Oracle over Android patent violations, and Google just can't seem to catch a break. 

II. Google Cries Foul

Apparently, Google has had enough of its mobile operating system -- and its partners -- being attacked by competitors. David Drummond, Google's Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, took to the company's official blog and had more than a few words for Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle regarding their "bogus" patent claims. Drummond claims that the trio has sparked a "hostile, organized campaign" against Android and that their claims of patent violations are baseless.

Drummond even went so far as to dismiss Apple and Microsoft's buddy-buddy relationship which led to the purchase of Novell's war chest of patents. "I have worked in the tech sector for over two decades," opined Drummond. "Microsoft and Apple have always been at each other’s throats, so when they get into bed together you have to start wondering what's going on." 

Apple, Microsoft, and four other tech giants purchased Nortel's patent portfolio for a whopping $4.5B, far surpassing Google's initial bid of $900M and final bid of over $3.14B. "The winning $4.5 billion for Nortel’s patent portfolio was nearly five times larger than the pre-auction estimate of $1 billion," Drummond continued. "Fortunately, the law frowns on the accumulation of dubious patents for anti-competitive means — which means these deals are likely to draw regulatory scrutiny, and this patent bubble will pop."

Drummond goes on to talk about how everyone is ganging up on Google, and that such actions simply aren't acceptable in the marketplace:

A smartphone might involve as many as 250,000 (largely questionable) patent claims, and our competitors want to impose a “tax” for these dubious patents that makes Android devices more expensive for consumers. They want to make it harder for manufacturers to sell Android devices. Instead of competing by building new features or devices, they are fighting through litigation…

We’re not naive; technology is a tough and ever-changing industry and we work very hard to stay focused on our own business and make better products. But in this instance we thought it was important to speak out and make it clear that we’re determined to preserve Android as a competitive choice for consumers, by stopping those who are trying to strangle it.

III. Microsoft Responds

Since Drummond called out Microsoft in the official Google blog, it shouldn't be too surprising that at least someone from Redmond was taking notice. Brad Smith, Microsoft's General Counsel, posted to his Twitter feed that Microsoft actually was looking to give Google a piece of the action with the Nortel patent purchase:

Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no.

Frank Shaw, head of Microsoft's Corporate Communications department, even got in on the Twitter-bang action according to Engadget:

Free advice for David Drummond – next time check with Kent Walker before you blog. :)

Shaw posted an image of an email exchange (see image on right) between Brad Smith and Kent Walker, Google Senior Vice President and General Counsel, in which the latter said that Google would rather not go in on a joint bid for Nortel's patents.

It appears that the gloves are off in the mobile operating system battle, and Google is running out of friends to help keep it off the canvas. 

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Companies Whinging
By Tony Swash on 8/4/2011 5:07:07 AM , Rating: 3
I agree Google is whinging what I cannot fathom out is what Google's overall strategy in relation to IP and patents is, it seems terminally confused.

On the one hand Google built it's entire business in a software patent: U.S. Patent No. 6,285,999 on a "method for node ranking in a linked database", invented by Lawrence (Larry) Page and filed for on January 9, 1998. It was assigned to Stanford University, which later gave Google's founders an exclusive license. The patent was an extremely broad one. Look at its claim 1:

"A computer implemented method of scoring a plurality of linked documents, comprising:

obtaining a plurality of documents, at least some of the documents being linked documents, at least some of the documents being linking documents, and at least some of the documents being both linked documents and linking documents, each of the linked documents being pointed to by a link in one or more of the linking documents;
assigning a score to each of the linked documents based on scores of the one or more linking documents and processing the linked documents according to their scores."

Google will of course defence this patent to the death because that one apparently doesn't prevent innovation.

Based on the evidence that has emerged in the Oracle V Google case Google clearly had several high-level internal discussions about the need to either get a Java licence or use a alternative development framework for Android. Then it decided to use Java and not bother with a license.

Then Google goes into the Nortel patent portfolio bidding process and starts using weird numbers based on mathematical constants as if the whole thing were a joke.

Then it complains because it lost.

Now Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith has claimed on Wednesday night that Google had actively turned down a chance to join the Apple-led collective bid on Nortel's wireless patents.!/BradSmi/status/9890213041235...

Why would Google turn that down?

Who is in charge of Google's strategy and management of IP? Are they an adult?

RE: Companies Whinging
By Tony Swash on 8/4/2011 5:18:45 AM , Rating: 2
Just came across more info about Google's refusal to join the winning Nortel bidding consortium despite being invited. Google's SVP and General Counsel Kent Walker wrote this email to Brad Smith, Microsoft General Counsel in response to the invite sent to Google inviting them to join the winning consortium.

Brad –

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you — I came down with a 24-hour bug on the way back from San Antonio. After talking with people here, it sounds as though for various reasons a joint bid wouldn’t be advisable for us on this one. But I appreciate your flagging it, and we’re open to discussing other similar opportunities in the future.

I hope the rest of your travels go well, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

– Kent

Now I don't know about you but that doesn't really look like a conspiracy to gang up on Google does it?

RE: Companies Whinging
By Pirks on 8/4/2011 6:11:04 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah I have to agree, after this MS tweet reply to Drummond Google looks like a bunch of senile imbeciles who don't know what they are doing. That, or we don't know something important.

I thought Google was just mocking its competitors, now I don't know what to think... is Google mocking themselves now? What the eff...

*scratches his head in astonishment*

RE: Companies Whinging
By darkhawk1980 on 8/4/2011 6:51:59 AM , Rating: 2
As usual you always present half of the valid information to make your points seem valid and have purpose!

Did you ever bother looking up more information regarding the Oracle V Google case at all? You might want to do that...You're about a month on behind regarding that case considering that there is proof that Oracle supported Google and Android using Java....

Seriously, you're just a mongering jerk that likes to make yourself seem highly intelligent, and in the end you come off like Steve Jobs, a moron that tells everyone they're holding it wrong. That's fine though, without people like you, I'd have no one to laugh at.

RE: Companies Whinging
By Tony Swash on 8/4/2011 8:02:40 AM , Rating: 2
So do you think it's OK for Google to decline an invitation to join the winning consortium in the Nortel bid and then to complain in public that the Nortel patent portfolio has been bought as part of a conspiracy against Google?

dissimulation, false virtue, cant, posturing, affectation, speciousness, empty talk, insincerity, falseness, deceit, dishonesty, mendacity, pretense, duplicity; sanctimoniousness, sanctimony, pietism, piousness; informal phoniness, fraud.

RE: Companies Whinging
By Iaiken on 8/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: Companies Whinging
By Tony Swash on 8/4/2011 10:35:19 AM , Rating: 5
Yes, because even if Google had joined the consortium, you can virtually Google would have been kept far away from patents that could be used against them. Are you seriously that daft as to think that Apple and Microsoft wouldn't approach the winning market competitor under a false flag of friendship and cooperation and then try to use that approach against them later when the declined?

The problem with the way the consortium worked was that the patents in the war chest weren't simply held in trust and licensed to all the participants, they were instead parceled out by Apple and Microsoft to their liking. Since we don't have the rest of the e-mails, we don't have the details on what exactly was offered to Google, but if they turned it down, it likely wasn't favorable or even equitable.

But Tony, don't let logical analysis of strategic market moves get in the way of wild speculation. Until we have ALL of the facts, it's impossible to judge.

It's a bit rich to make a claim about waiting for the facts when I am the posting the facts and you are the one posting the speculation based on zero evidence.

Two can play at the 'let's speculate about this' game.

My assumption, and it could be wrong, is that when a consortium deal like this is done it goes something like this: all members of the consortium are protected agains the patents in the entire consortium portfolio (i.e. members of the winning consortium cannot sue other members of the consortium over patents in the portfolio purchased by the consortium) a sort of collective cross licence. It is also possible, and likely given what is known, that some patents in the consortium portfolio belong to individual companies in the consortium so that if that patent is infringed by a company not in the consortium, it is the individual member of the consortium who owns that patent that can sue and claim damages/license fees etc.

Now I don't have any hard information that this was the way the consortium works, just as you don't have any information that Google was in danger of being discriminated against within the consortium, but my common sense says that for a consortium to actually work, i.e to be a joint and collective undertaking, it would probably have to work something like this. If it didn't then why would small companies participate in the large consortium, what advantage would there be for them in doing so? Why would anybody participate in a consortium if they could still end up being sued over the patents in question. It just sounds implausible. But as I said I don't know any of this for sure - I am just speculating like you.

Frankly I just think you are clutching a straws here. Google are shown to be duplicitous and hypercritical and to be playing the court of public opinion with mendacious statements and all you can do is bleat on about how it must be a plot against Google. You whine worse than Google and that's saying something. Please get honest.

RE: Companies Whinging
By ltcommanderdata on 8/4/2011 10:36:40 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know what Google was/would have been offered, but the consortium result didn't look like Apple/Microsoft mistreated the mobile competitors within the group. RIM and Ericsson both got full licenses to the portfolio. RIM also negotiated to get Nortel's operating loses, so that with tax breaks for absorbing the loses, they might end up paying nothing for all those patents. EMC was able to negotiate complete ownership of a subset of the patents they were interested in. Sometimes negotiation and compromise works.

RE: Companies Whinging
By Mitch101 on 8/4/2011 10:38:49 AM , Rating: 3
Sure would be nice if Microsoft, Apple, etc foot the bill for the Nortel patents and made them open source. I'm sure if Google purchased all the patents they would OK with everyone infringing on their patent portfolio. /sarcasm off

RE: Companies Whinging
By sprockkets on 8/4/2011 1:31:36 PM , Rating: 2
They freed On2's VP8 into the open domain, which is covered by patents. When's the last time apple did that (Microsoft did for C#)?

RE: Companies Whinging
By ltcommanderdata on 8/4/2011 1:53:07 PM , Rating: 4
Apple developed OpenCL themselves and then submitted it to the Khronos Group of industry feedback and ratification as an open standard. Apple developed miniDP and submitted it for incorporation into the official DisplayPort spec, where it was approved. miniDP was one enabler of the original AMD Eyefinity 6 in order to physically fit 6 output ports on the back of the graphics card. miniDP has since been adopted by the Thunderbolt port spec.

Apple continues to lead open source WebKit development despite it being used by many of their competitors like Google, RIM, Nokia, Adobe, etc. They released their Safari sandbox implementation as WebKit2. They also lead the open source LLVM compiler, CUPS printing framework, continue to open source the underlying layers of their OS as Darwin OS, open sourced their Grand Central Dispatch multithreading scheme, contribute to OpenJDK, X11, Ruby, the list goes on.

Apple is obviously a company out to make money, but Apple and open are not always diametric opposites.

RE: Companies Whinging
By Black1969ta on 8/4/2011 9:50:20 PM , Rating: 2
miniDp is not an open spec for Thunderbolt, it is just the format that Apple will use on the Macs, much like Sony has decided to use their own proprietary interface. Thus it is not "open"

RE: Companies Whinging
By TakinYourPoints on 8/5/2011 7:20:13 AM , Rating: 2
Incorrect, one of the reasons miniDP was selected for Thunderbolt is because it is an open spec with no licensing fees involved. Note that the first Light Peak demo that Intel and Apple showed several years ago used a USB plug, and they changed away from that for a reason. Thunderbolt compatible devices all use miniDP ports.

Here is a quote from the USB Implementers Forum:

"USB connectors are not general purpose connectors and are not designed to be used in support of other technology applications or standards or as combo connectors."

Sony paid to use a USB connector for their own proprietary TB solution, and the only device compatible with that happens to be their own docking station.

No surprise though, Sony and "proprietary" is par for the course. :)

RE: Companies Whinging
By sprockkets on 8/5/2011 8:11:17 AM , Rating: 2
And where in anything you just posted mentioned apple releasing PATENTS into the open domain?

Yeah, apple did some stuff. It's vastly overshadowed by all the BS litigation about suing over a tablet look and all the other crap they do.

RE: Companies Whinging
By Tony Swash on 8/4/2011 8:53:44 AM , Rating: 2
Did you ever bother looking up more information regarding the Oracle V Google case at all? You might want to do that...You're about a month on behind regarding that case considering that there is proof that Oracle supported Google and Android using Java....

What you and I think doesn't really matter as it's what the judge thinks that will matter but just to halt the urban legend process in it's track I feel compelled to correct some of the inaccurate things you write. Sorry I know facts annoy you.

Oracle has never given Google permission to do anything with Java in Android. I think you are referring to reports of a posting in 2007 on a blog in which the then Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz praised Google for their use of Java and Linux on Android. Recently he gave a sworn statement to Google saying that he did not object to Android when it was released and that he still views it as a 'positive development' for the Java ecosystem."

The full text of these remarks are here

Clearly this helpful to Google the question is how helpful and how much weight does this carry legally? I don't know because I am not a lawyer but my common sense says that if you are about to embark on a global project of the magnitude of Android and with the expectations that it will transform and disrupt the business environment of markets and companies worth hundred of billions you would want to get something in writing. Something pretty good in writing. Something a bit stronger than an entry in someone's blog. Maybe even get your lawyers to have a look and sign the form of words off as being legally strong. Instead it appears Google embarked on the Android adventure on the basis of a posting on a blog. Sounds a very silly and very reckless way to behave to me.

I am not a lawyer but again my common sense says that given that there is firm evidence that Sun offered to License Java to Google for inclusion in Android for $100 million then Google must have known a license was actually going to be needed. Instead, bizarrely given the tiny license fee requested, Google decided to press ahead with Android without a license. Again that sounds a very silly and very reckless way to behave to me.

?In a more recent hearing the attorney for Oracle read part of an internal Google email in court: 'What we've actually been asked to do by Larry and Sergey is to investigate what technology alternatives exist to Java for Android and Chrome,' the Google executive wrote, referring to founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. 'We've been over a hundred of these and think they all suck. We conclude that we need to negotiate a license for Java.'"

?""That's a pretty good document for you," the presiding Judge Alsup said to Oracle's lawyer. "That ought to be big for you at trial."

?Then to Google's attorney: "'You're going to be on the losing end of this document with Andy Rubin on the stand. You think about that,' Alsup continued. 'And I want to say this: Wilful infringement is final. There are profound implications of a permanent injunction. I'm not saying there is wilful infringement, but that is a serious factor when you're considering an injunction.'"

Does anybody think that Google played all this well? Or played it particularly straight? Of have anything to whine about??

RE: Companies Whinging
By nafhan on 8/4/2011 9:48:06 AM , Rating: 2
The patent was an extremely broad one. Look at its claim 1:
Seriously? There are 29 claims. It's the combination of those 29 things that makes the patent - not the first claim by itself. Further, there's actually some unique technical details AND they implemented this.

More importantly, I haven't seen a whole lot of evidence of Google "defencing" this patent to death. It's possible I may have missed something, but I think most of the lawsuits around PageRank have been Google getting sued because they changed a websites ranking due to "cheating" - nothing to do with IP law.

That said, corporate whining is annoying regardless of who's doing it or how good of a reason they have.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

Latest Headlines
Inspiron Laptops & 2-in-1 PCs
September 25, 2016, 9:00 AM
The Samsung Galaxy S7
September 14, 2016, 6:00 AM
Apple Watch 2 – Coming September 7th
September 3, 2016, 6:30 AM
Apple says “See you on the 7th.”
September 1, 2016, 6:30 AM

Most Popular Articles5 Cases for iPhone 7 and 7 iPhone Plus
September 18, 2016, 10:08 AM
No More Turtlenecks - Try Snakables
September 19, 2016, 7:44 AM
ADHD Diagnosis and Treatment in Children: Problem or Paranoia?
September 19, 2016, 5:30 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM
Automaker Porsche may expand range of Panamera Coupe design.
September 18, 2016, 11:00 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki