Google would like to revamp US software patent system

We have seen patent fights over software take their toll in the past few years, with lawsuits and court cases generated between multiple companies. That includes Microsoft, which has been engaged in its own software patent battle against Motorola, now owned by Google.

But is Google ready for all this software bickering to finally end? Maybe. News.com reports that Pablo Chavez, Google's public policy director, said on Monday:

One thing that we are very seriously taking a look at is the question of software patents, and whether in fact the patent system as it currently exists is the right system to incent innovation and really promote consumer-friendly policies.

Chavez made his remarks as part of the Technology Policy Institute's conference in Aspen, Colorado on Monday. He added that, in his opinion, software patents should be viewed differently than other patents developed for medicine and other industries.

He also feels that taking fights about software patents to court is also not the way to go, saying, "We think that these patent wars are not helpful to consumers, They're not helpful to the marketplace. They're not helpful to innovation."

So does that mean Google will simply stop all of its current patent fights against Microsoft and other companies? That doesn't appear likely. However, Google might not wish to escalate matters further and take a slower approach in terms of defending its patents.

Source: News.com
Lawsuit image via Shutterstock

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40 Comments

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Simple solution: get rid of patents as they just slow progress and are only a money grabber, or end it. companies abuse patents, which are an abomination. Everything should be open for all to benefit.

In a nutshell: software patents don't work because there's too many, they're frequently too vague and they're not searchable.

It's basically at the point where it's literally impossible to ensure you're not accidentally copying someone's patented idea. That makes it unworkable, and untenable.

Someone needs to start correcting the patent system. People here are bashing Google but I dont hear any other company say the same thing. And anyone is a hypocrite blaming only Google for taking ideas and using them. Everyone is guilty of it.

There are certain patents that should be enforced...but patenting something with the soul purpose of suing is wrong and shouldnt happen.

So does that mean Google will simply stop all of its current patent fights against Microsoft and other companies?
Which patent fights are those? I can't think of any that Goolge started.

PotatoJ said,
Which patent fights are those? I can't think of any that Goolge started.

Google just filed a patent case against Apple last week seeking to ban the iPhone and iPad in the US.

Avatar Roku said,

Google just filed a patent case against Apple last week seeking to ban the iPhone and iPad in the US.

Oh yeah, and that just came out of the blue, huh... No previous litigation on Apple's part at all...

PotatoJ said,
Besides that one. The author used "fights", plural.
How about the patents for x264 video compression that Motorola/Google are pressing against Microsoft?

Jazirian said,
How about the patents for x264 video compression that Motorola/Google are pressing against Microsoft?
Please offer a source and an explanation. From a quick Google search, it looks like they are gathering patents in case they get sued by MPEG-LA.

Stop using other companies technology or pay for it. Simple. Google wants it because of all lawsuits its facing because of android.

simrat said,
Stop using other companies technology or pay for it. Simple. Google wants it because of all lawsuits its facing because of android.

The fact that I'd have to pay to have an operating system which 'bounces' at the end of the list is absurd, or swipe to unlock.

Even if I wanted to pay, Apple aren't in the business of licensing out patents as far as I know. I'd have to become a giant like Microsoft for them to take me seriously, even then they'd want a huge deal rather than simple smaller ones.

simrat said,
Stop using other companies technology or pay for it. Simple. Google wants it because of all lawsuits its facing because of android.

Exactly Android infringes tons of patents, Google could handle this simply by licensing those patents, but instead would like to invalidate other companies patents. What a crappy arrogant company Google is. I really hope the DOJ rips them a new one someday.

Avatar Roku said,

Exactly Android infringes tons of patents, Google could handle this simply by licensing those patents, but instead would like to invalidate other companies patents. What a crappy arrogant company Google is. I really hope the DOJ rips them a new one someday.

lmao, go sit at the kiddies table, grown ups are talking. You quite clearly know nothing about the patent battles that have been happening if you think licensing the patents is an option. Apple refuse to license them instead insisting on banning sales of products that have bouncing menus, slide to unlock, square icons and a million other ideas that a child could think of and anyone with the slightest grasp of programming could implement.

In addition to this, Google has a massive patent portfolio, only made larger by the the huge portfolio of the recently acquired Motorola. They are one of the companies with the biggest vested interest in the patent system remaining the way it is.

Patents on software are silly because they hinder innovation. Its not like companies have to release their source code. If someone else can work out how to do the same thing without viewing their competitor's source code then they should be able to. If you get two different implementations of the same feature then the one who does it best should be rewarded, not the one who did it first. By all means, patent an entire piece of software so that people cant go around making cheap knockoffs of an entire OS for example, but patenting features is ridiculous.

Avatar Roku said,

Exactly Android infringes tons of patents, Google could handle this simply by licensing those patents, but instead would like to invalidate other companies patents. What a crappy arrogant company Google is. I really hope the DOJ rips them a new one someday.

Lets talk about that pull-down notification bar for a second, shall we? How do you liking having something on your iPhone that Android had before you and Apple copied?

People standing under giant glass cubes shouldn't cast stones...

Lightless said,
The fact that I'd have to pay to have an operating system which 'bounces' at the end of the list is absurd, or swipe to unlock.

Even if I wanted to pay, Apple aren't in the business of licensing out patents as far as I know. I'd have to become a giant like Microsoft for them to take me seriously, even then they'd want a huge deal rather than simple smaller ones.

The are interested in lceincing out patents, how about actually READING Neowin articles next time:

http://www.neowin.net/news/app...nts-to-samsung-back-in-2010

The argument isn't about the truthiness of the claim but the insane amount Apple is asking for. If Apple asked for something like $5-10 per unit then you'd probably find that Samsung would pay it just as other Android vendors have paid Microsoft for patents being violated by Android. The argument to disprove Apple's claims has less to do with the validity of the patents but rather Samsung hoping that if they muddy the waters enough they won't have to pay the insane $30-40 per unit Apple is demanding.

efjay said,
Start paying for all the stolen tech in android and problem solved.
Well that's a simpleton comment if I ever saw one.

Shall we list what Apple has stolen? How about we list what Android has "stolen" like the rectangle and square icons...

efjay said,
Start paying for all the stolen tech in android and problem solved.

That's the point, all this "stolen" tech in Android, and yet anyone could have come up with most of those bits. There are many extremely complex portions of android and any other OS, but these disputes are about the smallest, most insignificant bits for the most part.

When people are patenting simple ideas like slide to unlock (how the f**k else are you gonna stop buttons being pressed on a touchscreen phone when its in your pocket?) and square icons etc its not stealing ideas anymore. Its just coming up with the logical solution to a problem only to find that someone else has come to the same simple conclusion first.

Completely agree. These IP battles are ludicrous. It's now basically at the point where you can hardly write anything without apparently infringing on someone's IP.

While it does need redone, Google love using other peoples stuff and hope they don't get asked to pay. Some fair others not.

WooHoo!!! said,
While it does need redone, Google love using other peoples stuff and hope they don't get asked to pay. Some fair others not.

patent on a software is BS... what if someone patents a apparatus/ method to loop through list of data... oh yeah its called for loop

WooHoo!!! said,
While it does need redone, Google love using other peoples stuff and hope they don't get asked to pay. Some fair others not.

Well that's the thing isn't it. They don't get asked to pay. They get their devices banned. There's never the option of paying. Either you make a product that doesn't implement this easily thought up but integral feature or that, or you don't release a product at all. At least that's how Apple would like it.

still1 said,

patent on a software is BS... what if someone patents a apparatus/ method to loop through list of data... oh yeah its called for loop


That's bull**** that patent for software shouldn't be. Lyrics are copyrighted and other type of work are done so too... they are basically protected. In software many people develop new software technique that should be patented, now obvious things like simple slide to unlock code that is pretty straight foward or similar shouldn't be consider but to say that patents for software shouldn't be considered is quite BULL itself.

M4x1mus said,

Well that's the thing isn't it. They don't get asked to pay. They get their devices banned. There's never the option of paying.

This isn't quite true; Microsoft have been quite forthcoming in asking Android manufacturers to pay for the usage of MS patents.

nickcruz said,
That's bull**** that patent for software shouldn't be. Lyrics are copyrighted and other type of work are done so too... they are basically protected. In software many people develop new software technique that should be patented, now obvious things like simple slide to unlock code that is pretty straight foward or similar shouldn't be consider but to say that patents for software shouldn't be considered is quite BULL itself.

That particular implementation of an idea in software is already covered by copyright law - the problem is ambiguous and broad reaching 'concepts' being patented to the point that one can't even implement a protocol purely for compatibility without getting screwed by a patent.

Finally. My only concern is that if they do, they actually revamp it rather than making it beneficial for someone in specific or something like that. Yuck.

Lucas said,
Finally. My only concern is that if they do, they actually revamp it rather than making it beneficial for someone in specific or something like that. Yuck.

I don't think anyone should be surprised, since google prey's on others material\properties to make money. However ignorant you might choose to be, everyone knows this is Google's way. Consider scanning book scandal, or the so call free software for everyone except our search and android patents or has anyone forgotten all the patents they have registered for Android! Android is free, but look deeper and you will see plenty of Google patent's for Android.

ahhell said,
Kind of ironic this coming from Google.

Why? They are the ones stealing everyones ideas

Thief: jail system should be revamped

FoxieFoxie said,

Why? They are the ones stealing everyones ideas

You are extremely short-sighted if you think that Google is the only company that "steals" ideas.

Google doesn't like the law and having to obey it, this is shocking news. Sure Google wants to get rid of patents, because they don't have any of value. I think the US would be better off revamping Google and it's anticompetitive search policies.

Avatar Roku said,
Google doesn't like the law and having to obey it, this is shocking news. Sure Google wants to get rid of patents, because they don't have any of value. I think the US would be better off revamping Google and it's anticompetitive search policies.

Yeah, because there are no other search engines. /s

Also the have many patents but you don't see them suing everyone. The ones they typically sue are ones that bullying others. Mainly MS and Apple, who in case you haven't noticed, are attacking Google and their partners.

DKAngel said,
just all hug and move on people
You know good and well that will never, ever happen.

But you know what they say: eEver say ever whatnever you do, I'm Mulsivaas, and I'm coming for you.