Google CEO Larry Page explains reasoning behind Motorola acquisition (spoiler: patents)

By on August 15, 2011 at 8:38 AM.

Google CEO Larry Page explains reasoning behind Motorola acquisition (spoiler: patents)

In a post penned by Larry Page on Google’s company blog, the CEO explains why Google decided to shell out $12.5 billion to purchase smartphone vendor Motorola Mobility. While Page had plenty to say about Motorola’s extensive history and its leading role in Android’s explosive growth, he also points to what many believe to be one of the leading factors behind the deal: patents. “We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android,” the CEO wrote on Google’s blog. “The U.S. Department of Justice had to intervene in the results of one recent patent auction to ‘protect competition and innovation in the open source software community’ and it is currently looking into the results of the Nortel auction. Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.” Read on for more. More →

93 Comments

Verizon sues workers union claiming harassment, sabotage

By on August 11, 2011 at 8:01 AM.

Verizon sues workers union claiming harassment, sabotage

Verizon Communications has filed lawsuits against the Communications Workers of America union in five states in an effort to limit picketing, the Associated Press reported. In separate filings, the company has accused picketers in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Delaware of harassment, sabotage and of blocking access to its facilities. Verizon got a court order to limit picketing in Pennsylvania on Monday, and a similar order was granted in Delaware on Wednesday. More than 45,000 unionized wireline employees at Verizon have walked out over premium increases for health benefits, and managers are currently filing in for the striking workers. More →

104 Comments

Apple sues Motorola, claims XOOM tablet is an iPad rip-off

By on August 10, 2011 at 12:00 PM.

Apple sues Motorola, claims XOOM tablet is an iPad rip-off

Apple’s claims that Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet is a copycat device that infringes on Apple-owned patents have been widely reported. The Cupertino-based company has filed numerous patent complaints against Samsung, and it has even succeeded in temporarily blocking the sale of the 10-inch Honeycomb tablet across Europe and in Australia. Samsung isn’t the only tablet vendor in Apple’s sights, however, as Apple also recently filed a complaint against Motorola in Europe, FOSS Patents reports. The complaint alleges that the design of Motorola’s XOOM tablet copies Apple’s iPad tablets, just like the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Apple currently has multiple outstanding patent complaints against Motorola right now, and Motorola has issued multiple complaints against Apple as well. In total, 40 different patents are named in the various suits Apple and Motorola have filed against each other since October 2010. More →

153 Comments

ITC to investigate Apple's second patent suit against HTC

By on August 9, 2011 at 8:00 AM.

ITC to investigate Apple's second patent suit against HTC

The U.S. International Trade Commission on Monday said it would investigate a second patent complaint Apple filed recently against HTC. The complaint seeks to ban the importation and sale of multiple HTC devices that Apple alleges are infringing on its intellectual property. Three companies will be targeted in the Commission’s investigation — HTC Corp., HTC America, Inc. and Exedea, Inc. — and a target date for the completion of the investigation will be set within 45 days. The ITC ruled in a separate case last month that HTC infringes on two Apple patents, and HTC said it would appeal the judgement. Apple executives reportedly claimed recently that they are willing to settle various patent disputes, but the company continues to pursue numerous complaints against HTC, Samsung and others. The ITC’s full press release follows below. More →

12 Comments

Google and Microsoft's public patent spat gets louder, sadder

By on August 4, 2011 at 5:30 PM.

Google and Microsoft's public patent spat gets louder, sadder

Microsoft’s Communications boss Frank X. Shaw on Thursday responded to an update posted by Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, which was written in response to Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith’s response to Drummond’s initial claim that Microsoft and Apple were playing dirty with patents. Catch all that? Here’s the gist of it: Google’s David Drummond wrote on Wednesday that Microsoft, Apple and others were “banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the ‘CPTN’ group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the ‘Rockstar’ group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them.” Microsoft’s Frank X. Shaw and Brad Smith each responded on Twitter, saying that Google was invited to the patent party but the company declined the invitation. On Thursday, Drummond updated his original post on the Google blog, stating that Microsoft and Apple’s invitation was disingenuous. Had Google joined the group that purchased the patents, Drummond explained, the joint acquisition would have “eliminated any protection these patents could offer to Android against attacks from Microsoft and its bidding partners.”

Microsoft’s Shaw then shot back on Twitter, saying that Drummond is a liar and Google didn’t joint the group because it wanted the patents all to itself (of course Google’s bids in the Nortel patent auction were seemingly intended to merely drive up the price of the portfolio; it bid $Pi billion at one point). The bottom line is it’s all ridiculous, and each company is out to protect its own interests as can only be expected. It would be great if tech giants could fire all their patent attorneys and build innovative products without having to weave through an obstacle course of patents, but that will never happen under the current system. In the meantime, companies will keep suing each other and in the end, everyone — including end users — loses.

More →

44 Comments

Microsoft says Google is lying in its complaints about patent hoarding

By on August 4, 2011 at 11:01 AM.

Microsoft says Google is lying in its complaints about patent hoarding

Apple sat quiet following Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond’s rant yesterday, as it always does, but Microsoft was not content letting Drummond air his grievances without responding. Drummond on Wednesday penned a post on Google’s blog claiming that Apple, Microsoft and other companies are joining together to “strangle” Android with patent complaints. With all of the patent-related lawsuits against Android partners right now, this certainly seems like a valid complaint. Highlighting a specific example, Drummond wrote that the companies are “banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the “CPTN” group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the ‘Rockstar’ group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them.” Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith disagreed, however, and he pointed out a gaping hole in Drummond’s argument: “Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no,” Smith wrote on Twitter. Microsoft’s Corporate Communications boss Frank X. Shaw followed up Smith’s note by posting an image on Twitter of an email between Brad Smith and Google’s General Counsel Kent Walker where Walker refuses Microsoft’s invitation to bid on Nortel’s patent portfolio alongside Microsoft and other companies. The image of the email and a transcription of its contents can be seen below. More →

68 Comments

Google: Apple, Microsoft are trying to 'strangle' Android with patents instead of competing

By on August 3, 2011 at 5:10 PM.

Google: Apple, Microsoft are trying to 'strangle' Android with patents instead of competing

Apple and Microsoft are playing dirty, according to a new blog post by Google’s Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond. Instead of attempting to build innovative products and features, Drummond says Apple and Microsoft are content with filing repeated patent complaints in an attempt to impede Android’s rapid growth. Apple, Microsoft and others are carrying out “a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents,” Drummond wrote in his post. “They’re doing this by banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the “CPTN” group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the ‘Rockstar’ group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them; seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Mobile; and even suingBarnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it.” Drummond goes on to write that Google intends to support its partners who are being targeted by these patent complaints. “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,” Drummond stated. More →

110 Comments

Apple fined by South Korean regulator following 'Locationgate' scandal

By on August 3, 2011 at 10:35 AM.

Apple fined by South Korean regulator following 'Locationgate' scandal

Apple has been fined by South Korea’s telecommunications regulator following the “Locationgate” scandal that caused public outrage earlier this year, Dow Jones reports. This marks the second time Apple has had to pay penalties resulting from the iOS location-tracking snafu. A South Korean lawyer sued Apple and was awarded $1 million won, or approximately $945 at the time, by a court this past June. It was discovered in April that the iPhone and some iPad models were secretly tracking users and storing their locations in a local file. Apple determined that a software bug was responsible for the collection of location data, and it promptly issued a fix. The damage had already been done, however, and lawsuits were filed. Apple’s prompt attention to the matter likely limited the damage, and Wednesday’s fine levied by the Korea Communications Commission is the first penalty we’ve seen issued by a regulatory body. So what’s the damage this time around? $3 million won, or approximately $2,829. More →

6 Comments

ITC to investigate Samsung following Apple's patent complaints

By on August 2, 2011 at 2:20 PM.

ITC to investigate Samsung following Apple's patent complaints

The U.S. International Trade Commission on Tuesday announced that it will launch an investigation into whether or not multiple Samsung products infringe on Apple patents. “The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) has voted to institute an investigation of certain electronic digital media devices and components thereof,” the Commission said in a statement. “The products at issue in this investigation include mobile phone handsets and tablet computers, in addition to components such as software, touchpads, and hardware interfaces.” Apple has filed multiple complaints with the ITC, U.S. courts and international agencies claiming that several Samsung devices are “copycat” products that infringe on Apple patents and copy its designs. Samsung struck back in nearly every case, though the South Korea-based manufacturer did agree not to sell its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in Australia for the time being following a patent complaint filed there by Apple. Apple is also currently at war with several other vendors over patents, including HTC. The ITC’s full news release follows below. More →

28 Comments

Samsung comments on Apple's patent suit that blocked Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales down under

By on August 2, 2011 at 1:15 PM.

Samsung comments on Apple's patent suit that blocked Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales down under

As a result of a recent patent complaint filed in Australia by Apple, Samsung has agreed not to sell its Galaxy Tab 10.1 Honeycomb tablet in the region. The exact terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but we had a feeling that wouldn’t be the last we would hear on the subject. On Tuesday, Australian Android news site Ausdroid got Samsung’s statement on the matter and as expected, the South Korea-based company says its 10-inch tablet will soon see the light of day down under. “A Samsung GALAXY Tab 10.1 for the Australian market will be released in the near future,” a Samsung Australia spokesperson said in the statement. The spokesperson continued, “This undertaking does not affect any other Samsung smartphone or tablet available in the Australian market or other countries. Samsung will continue to actively defend and protect our intellectual property to ensure our continued innovation and growth in the mobile communication business.” Samsung Australia’s full comment on the matter follows below. More →

18 Comments

Judge blocks patent holding firm from suing Apple

By on August 1, 2011 at 4:59 PM.

Judge blocks patent holding firm from suing Apple

A U.S. District Judge in Texas has ruled that patent holding firm Personal Audio cannot seek additional damages from Apple relating to a patent that the Cupertino-based company was recently found to be infringing. Personal Audio was awarded $8 million last month when Texas judge Ron Clark ruled that Apple’s iPod was infringing one of its patents covering playlist implementation. Following the win, the holding firm filed a second lawsuit alleging that additional Apple devices such as the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 also made illegal use of this patent. Judge Clark said Friday, however, that the $8 million in damages Apple paid in early July is all Personal Audio will see from Apple related to this patent. “The court finds that the jury’s selection of lump sum as the appropriate form of reasonable royalty clearly represents a damages award giving Apple a fully paid up license that covers all past and future use of the patented technology,” the Judge said in his decision. Personal Audio has not indicated how it will respond to the judge’s ruling. More →

26 Comments

Google hates smartphone patent wars, but buys 1,000 new patents to go to war

By on July 29, 2011 at 8:15 AM.

Google hates smartphone patent wars, but buys 1,000 new patents to go to war

Google’s general counsel Kent Walker apparently doesn’t see eye to eye with the rest of his company. “The tech industry has a significant problem,” Walker said earlier this week. “Software patents are kind of gumming up the works of innovation.” According to SEO by the Sea however, Google purchased 1,030 patents from IBM just two weeks before Walker made those comments. According to the report, the patents purchased cover a wide rage of IP, “from the fabrication and architecture of memory and microprocessing chips, to other areas of computer architecture including servers and routers as well.” Still more patents cover specific database functions, various aspects of object-oriented programming and even some business processes. The terms of Google’s acquisition have not been disclosed. More →

73 Comments

Personal Audio goes for round 2 after winning patent decision against Apple

By on July 22, 2011 at 11:45 AM.

Personal Audio goes for round 2 after winning patent decision against Apple

Patent holding firm Personal Audio LLC is suing Apple for patent infringement surrounding IP covering playlist implementation on multiple Apple devices. The firm was recently awarded $8 million from Apple by a Texas judge who found that the Cupertino-based company’s iPod made unauthorized use of Personal Audio’s IP. Now, the firm’s new suit alleges that additional Apple products are infringing on the same patent. Devices covered in the new complaint include the iPhone 4, the fourth-generation iPod touch, the iPad 2, the fourth-generation iPod shuffle and the sixth-generation iPod nano. Apple has made headlines countless times over the past few months as a result of suing nearly all of its major mobile competitors for patent infringement. While some companies believe Apple should focus on building innovative products instead of suing all of its competitors, Apple seems to think its IP is being used illegally and therefore must be protected vigorously. Apparently, Personal Audio holds a similar belief. More →

32 Comments