Google plays nice with patents

Google have just announced a new pledge in the "Open Patent Non-Assertion" (OPN) agreement, a new initiative that means they will not sue developers, distributors or users of open source software which uses Google's patents. Google has identified 10 patents in relation to MapReduce, "a computing model for processing large data sets," which can now be used by anyone as long as the software is open source.

There is a caveat: if Google is "attacked" first, they will use the patents offensively. Google still hopes that others will follow their example: "We hope the OPN Pledge will serve as a model for the industry, and we’re encouraging other patent holders to adopt the pledge or a similar initiative." The patents are largely insignificant, but represent a move in the right direction in a system that is "broken" according to patent experts. Google says there are a number of advantages to their system, including: 

  • Transparency. Patent holders determine exactly which patents and related technologies they wish to pledge, offering developers and the public transparency around patent rights.
  • Breadth. Protections under the OPN Pledge are not confined to a specific project or open- source copyright license. (Google contributes a lot of code under such licenses, like the Apache or GNU GPL licenses, but their patent protections are limited.) The OPN Pledge, by contrast, applies to any open-source software—past, present or future—that might rely on the pledged patents.
  • Defensive protection. The Pledge may be terminated, but only if a party brings a patent suit against Google products or services, or is directly profiting from such litigation.
  • Durability. The Pledge remains in force for the life of the patents, even if we transfer them.

Google lists IBM and Red Hat as pioneers of the open software, as well as the Open Invention Network (of which Google is a member). 

Other companies, such as Oracle and Apple, use patents offensively - an act that is condemned in technology circles. Loren Brichter, who created Tweetie for iOS (later Twitter for iPhone) and Letterpress, follows a similar guide to Google, saying that anyone can use his "pull-to-refresh" patent as "as long as they aren't a dick." 

Source: Google | Image via Google

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This looks more like "we want attention to fix or imago". This is not "nice", I mean, they give only 10 patents to licence for free and only if the company that want to use them is Open Source... WTF?

Google has a portfolio of over 17,000 patents. This announcement is in relation to only 10 of them. The words "publicity stunt" spring to mind.

Google shareholders should be asking Page and Bris why they p*ssed away $12 billion buying Motorola's useless patent portfolio. This is all just cover for the fact they were well and truly conned by Carl Icahn. Google for Dummies.

At $12.5B, Motorola is Google's largest acquisition to date. Google paid $40 / share in cash, but received ~$11 / share in cash and $8 / share in deferred tax assets. Thus the value ascribed to operations + patents was about $21 / share, or $6.3B, reflecting a multiple of ~0.5x sales and 12x EBITDA. Now adjusting this further for the $2.35B total consideration Google is expected to receive for the Motorola Home business, we get a purchase price of just under $4B for Motorola's handset business and patent portfolio (17K patents and 7.5K patent applications). This compares very favorably to recent patent deals such as Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Sony, Ericsson, and EMC paying $4.5B for 6K patents (July '11) and Microsoft paying $1B for 800+ AOL patents (April '12). Based on a sum of the parts, one could conclude Google acquired either the handset or its patents for a very minimal cost.

I believe Google got a lot more than just the patents.. Some of Motorola Mobility's solutions and services (which is now the main focus of 'Motorola Solutions') could be a welcome addition to Google's strategy.

awww how nice of them. sharing all their useless patents.

18 of all the patents they got from Motorola were supposedly the only good and important ones,and were supposed to be what was going to "protect android", and if im not mistaken, they lost all their cases with these patents. 13 of those were rejected in the case against Microsoft,and they also lost against Apple. whomp whomp whomp

You know very little. Google didn't sue Microsoft or Apple. In fact Google hasn't lost a case against anyone in regards to Android. Another fact, Microsoft and Apple have been to scared to go directly against Google in regards to Android. The cases you mentioned were set in motion before Google acquired Motorola.

Sounds like hater talk to me. But I love haters. Whomp whomp indeed.

Another fact, Microsoft and Apple have been to scared to go directly against Google in regards to Android.

It's not because they're scared its because Google isn't the one doing the implementation. It's also because Google doesn't really earn any money from Android itself since it's a free OS. They only earn money from ads and the google services (which ODMs need to purchase).

Utter rubbish. The reason Google hasn't "lost" any cases against Microsoft is simple. EVERY SINGLE ANDROID DEVICE MANUFACTURER VOLUNTARILY PAYS A ROYALTY TO MICROSOFT. The case against Android is soooooooo overwhelming that device manufacturers simply agree to pay up and not one of them ever takes the case as far as court because it's so obvious they'd lose. The ONLY remaining Android manufacturer that doesn't pay Microsoft a royalty is Motorola. Google are involved in law suits with Microsoft in Western Washington District Court and in Mannheim Germany. In both of these cases Microsoft are wiping the floor with them. Google will soon have to pay a royalty to Microsoft for every Android device shipped. Then they'll have to face the Appeals Court in the Oracle vs Google case which is not looking very good for them.

Apple also receives royalty payments for patent breaches by Android from Samsung and HTC. Last week Nokia won an Android related lawsuit against HTC in Germany. And Google Maps is about to be declared illegal (i.e. ripped-off) in the EU.

Face facts. Google are thieves. Proven over and over again in and out of courts all over the world. You shouldn't accuse vcfan of knowing "very little" when your own ignorance is here for everyone to see.

I wouldn't say that Apple or Microsoft are scared. Proving a case in court involves proving the defendant is directly profiting from the alleged IP theft or infringed patents, which is very difficult to do because of how Google gives Android away for free. Hence why the OEM's have been sued. One could construe that as Google being scared of MS, Apple, and others.

It may be worth pointing out that Microsoft v. Motorola Mobility is more or less Microsoft v. Google since MMI is now wholly owned by Google and can't make any independent decisions on its own. Yes, it began before Google announced the acquisition, but by buying MMI they directly involved themselves in that litigation. Also, that legal battle is looking more and more like MS is going come out on top as they have consistently defeated Google's attempted assertion of SEP's against them (in multiple other cases as well). So given all that is going on there, I wouldn't say that MS is afraid at all of going after Google, and will more than likely succeed in getting MMI (Google) to take a license for patents that Android infringes upon.

Heck, part of Google's whole strategy of buying MMI was to use their patents to force MS and Apple into cross licensing agreements as a means of protecting Android, which has been anything but a success.

Call it hate if you want to, but Google themselves even acknowledged they'd make enemies along the way when they chose the route for Android that they did. So, it's hard to say they haven't earned that hate.

I'd argue that Oracle is still the biggest threat to Android since that case is still on appeal. Not to mention that a whole host of companies are siding with Oracle against Google (not just MS and Apple). Of all the battles going on, this is the one that would have the most direct affect on Android.

Google creates Android, FACT!
HTC creates Sense which is an altercation to Android. Just like Samsung with TouchWiz. To the non-tech out there, they think it is a "Skin". It isn't. Android doesn't violate anything hence why they weren't sued and lost. Oracle tried and failed. HTC and Apple have a cross license agreement and Samsung and Apple are still pending.

You guys are too slow to pick this stuff up on your own. I threw bait in there and you are talking as if the manufacturers and Google are synonymous. Where do you guys git this information? Quite sad really.

Like I said before Apple and Microsoft are to scared to sue Google. Or is it Android doesn't violate anything? Which is it?

DarkNet said,
.......
Neither, and you might want to look in the mirror before you try to call anyone 'slow'.

If you're going to try to push an argument, then try to understand the mechanics of what is going and more importantly, WHY.

Why are they going after the device makers and not Google itself? If you seriously have to ask this question then you yourself are not nearly as tech as you think you are, but since you asked, here is most basic reason.

When one product infringes upon another, where and when does the harm occur? Obviously, the point of sale. Since the device makers themselves are participants of that (and not Google), it is far easier to go after the device maker, thus why MS has had so much success in getting them to take licenses for the tech that Android infringes upon. It's really not that hard to understand.

If Google licensed the tech that Android infringes upon then any Android device maker would be shielded. That is why Microsoft gets sued all the time and not any of the PC makers for anything that Windows might infringe. Whereas with Google there is no such agreement for Google to contest any action against device makers for Android. They leave the makers high and dry.

BTW, Oracle's case against Google isn't over yet since its on appeal and can still go either way.

Bad Man Duke said,
...

Yup I was right. You are slow. Google designed Android. This is a software. If Apple or Microsft were to attack HTC let's say, then this would affect Google. Except none of these things in the prior case was Google ever responsible for. If so, please give me one just one example.

You mention Oracle as an example. I am not psychic but what I do know is that Google has not lost any case in regards to Android. I am stating facts to this point of time. You fail to mention where Android specifically has ever infringed on anything from Microsoft or Apple. The best you will be able to muster up is something from TouchWiz or Sense. This is where things go to s**t. These manufacturers have infringed. When they were being sued, they didn't mention anything that Google did, only the things that were in Sense or TouchWiz.

There is no doubt that Microsoft and Apple are threatened by Android's dominance. Why not go after Android directly to limit or shut it down? You see even if Samsung were forced to pay the 1.1 Billion, they made $40 billion on Android in the past few years already. They will continue to do what is profitable for them. So attacking companies like Samsung is a big waste of time. They account for 60% of Android sales.

Lastly, I don't think you know the definition of infringing. Google is licensing Microsoft's technology. They didn't bake it in to Android and hoped it went unnoticed without paying Microsoft. That would be infringing. Face Palm to that one Geesh.

If you knew anything at all about Android, I wouldn't have to explain to you these simple mechanics. When HTC or Samsung release a new phone, they don't use the Email app that Google developed (what you might see on a Nexus device). They come up with their own. It uses Microsoft technology which is why they have to pay the $5 per handset to Microsoft.

I look forward to your response. I am having a great time reading amateur facts.

Lastly, I don't think you know the definition of infringing. Google is licensing Microsoft's technology. They didn't bake it in to Android and hoped it went unnoticed without paying Microsoft. That would be infringing. Face Palm to that one Geesh.

So then why do you say Microsoft and Apple are too scared to sue Google? If stuff is licensed then there's no reason to sue Google and you're just trolling.

If stuff isn't licensed it still makes no sense to sue Google because they don't implement and nor do they profit of Android. HTC / Samsung / LG / Sony etc are all profiting of Android hence you sue THEM.

-Razorfold said,

So then why do you say Microsoft and Apple are too scared to sue Google? If stuff is licensed then there's no reason to sue Google and you're just trolling.

If stuff isn't licensed it still makes no sense to sue Google because they don't implement and nor do they profit of Android. HTC / Samsung / LG / Sony etc are all profiting of Android hence you sue THEM.

Like I said before, I wanted you to come up with that and say I was wrong. Instead I hear a bunch of garbage about other manufacturers. The second time I explained myself, I asked are they scared or is it it doesn't infringe.

Hence why I said nobody has ever sued Google in regards to Android and won. That was the crux of my argument.

Try to keep up with this conversation. Thanks for proving my point.

DarkNet said,
This article missed a huge thing here. Specifically, Google will not use its Open Source Patents offensively on other OPEN SOURCE companies. The language is important here. This means they could use their patents to sue companies like Apple (who are not Open Source).
http://www.androidcentral.com/...related-patents-defensively

What's an open source company? AFAIK Apple does use some open source code in their otherwise proprietary products, does that mean they are an open source company? What about IBM, which is endorsing the OPN?

Google won't use the patents against any company that signs the pledge and release the related code as OSS, they can do as they please with the rest of their software.

Apple didn't sign it for iOS. If iOS is infringing on Android (Let's say the swipe down notification) Google can sue them. That is not offensive, it's defensive. You understand what I am saying?

ShareShiz said,
Read this earlier today.

So nice of Google. Google FTW !

It's not really that they're being nice its that all the patents they bought of Motorola proved to be absolutely useless so they though "well that was the worst investment of the 21st century" and so decided to let open source COMPANIES (which means you are non-for profit and only make open source stuff ie not the likes of any worthy competitor).

ingramator said,

It's not really that they're being nice its that all the patents they bought of Motorola proved to be absolutely useless so they though "well that was the worst investment of the 21st century" and so decided to let open source COMPANIES (which means you are non-for profit and only make open source stuff ie not the likes of any worthy competitor).


oh... microsoft fanboy! i guess you dont have a life. all you do is suk MS's ....

ingramator said,

It's not really that they're being nice its that all the patents they bought of Motorola proved to be absolutely useless so they though "well that was the worst investment of the 21st century" and so decided to let open source COMPANIES (which means you are non-for profit and only make open source stuff ie not the likes of any worthy competitor).

Usually I agree with you on pretty much everything but this clearly is a nice gesture from Google, why are you even trying to prove otherwise? They have no obligation what so ever to let people use their patents but still..

ingramator said,

so decided to let open source COMPANIES (which means you are non-for profit and only make open source stuff ie not the likes of any worthy competitor).

They let open source projects, which can be produced by any company and sold for profit on it's own or as part of a larger package with proprietary bits.

So no, it doesn't mean any of that.

astalvfnw said,

oh... microsoft fanboy! i guess you dont have a life. all you do is suk MS's ....

That is a fairly accurate account of what happened. Google tried using Moto's patents offensively and didn't get anywhere. Where else do they turn?

How many times can you name something Google started that wasn't a response to an initial attack by someone else? Apple and MS both use their patents offensively more than defensively.