Few people doubt the future of Android, and afraid of the competition, so rather than innovate and improve its products are focused on Sue Android to try to curb their success and that manufacturers have to pay for more expensive licenses to opt for another operating system.
Many accused to Google keep quiet while we see week after week as Microsoft and Apple require companies that bet on Android as HTC, Samsung and Motorola with patents of dubious legality. Weeks ago it was rumored that Google was going to get fully to this war of patent nonsense and seemed to be confirmed a few days ago when we saw that he bought more than 1,000 patents to IBM, but it is not until now, when they do public.
The director of the Legal Department of Google, David Drummond, has just made a statement explaining what is happening and the measures that will do to protect Android, innovation and manufacturers and users that opt for your operating system:
I have worked in the technology industry for more than two decades and it is nothing new that Microsoft and Apple have always been on opposite sides of the ring. For this reason, when two companies come together, one begins to wonder what is really happening. This is what is happening: Android is at its best. More than 550 thousand Android devices are activated by day, through a network of 39 manufacturers & 231 operators. Android and other platforms are competing intensely and that gives as a result new devices and fantastic mobile applications for the consumer.
But the success of Android has yielded another result type: a hostile campaign organized against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, based on dubious practices with patents.
They carry out this campaign by partnering to acquire the old patents from Novell (the group “CPTN” including Microsoft and Apple) and the old patents from Nortel (the group “Rockstar”, including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure that Google doesn’t have those patents; looking for license price $15 for every Android device; trying to make it more expensive for phone makers license Android (which we provide for free) to license Windows Mobile; and even starting trial to Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. It has always considered that patents were created to promote innovation, but lately being used as a weapon to stop it.
A smartphone could involve up to 250 thousand patent (the most questionable) claims, and our competitors want to impose a “tax” for these dubious patents, which would increase the final price that pays consumers for an Android device. You are looking for make it more difficult for manufacturers to sell Android devices. Rather than compete by developing new features and devices, these companies are waging their battle through litigation.
This proerty strategy is making that climb also the cost of patents, much more than what they really are worth. The 4,500 million dollars which won Microsoft and Apple for the Nortel patent portfolio is almost five times more than the cost of 1,000 million that it had estimated before the auction. Fortunately, the law contemplates with suspicion the accumulation of dubious patent for anti-competitive purposes, which means that this practice could be subject to regulatory scrutiny and patents bubble could explode.
We are not naïve; the technology industry is a sector hard and constantly changing; why we focus on our own business and develop better products. But in this instance we believe it is important to express our point of view and make it clear that we are determined to preserve to Android as a competitive option for the consumer, detaining those who try so it fails.
We are looking for the ways to achieve this goal. It was encouraged by the fact that the Department of Justice of the United States has obliged the group that I mentioned to license the old Novell patents on fair terms, is investigating whether Microsoft and Apple acquired the patents from Nortel for anti-competitive purposes. We are also contemplating other ways to reduce the anti-competitive threats against Android, reinforcing our own patent portfolio. If we do not act, consumers may find higher costs for Android devices and have fewer options when choosing your next phone.
* Update: * has taken a little * Microsoft * in defending the release of Google. Alleges that you offered you to Google to participate in the joint purchase of Novell patents but * Google rejected the offer and chose to try to buy her single patent package *. The releases have Brad Smith, lead counsel of Microsoft and Fran Shaw, Microsoft’s Chief of communications via Twitter.
Seems that * Google * didn’t want to accept the joint purchasing to share patents with Microsoft, Apple and more companies could not use them to defend Android, with what you want * get exclusive patents * for use against those who demand them.
* Update 2: * Google explains the reasons why the did not accept the joint purchase of patents: No surprise that Microsoft wants to divert attention by trying to install in public opinion a false “I discovered your move, Google!”, while not responding to the essence of the issues that we have put on the table. If you think carefully, are obvious reasons why Google has rejected the offer from Microsoft. The objective of Microsoft has been to keep clear of Google and Android devices manufacturers any patent that could be used to defend us from their attacks. An acquisition in the patent pool from Novell that gave all parties a license, would have eliminated any protection that these patents could give Android against attacks by Microsoft and its partners. Making sure that I could not use these patents to defend Android – and making us pay for the privilege–may have seemed an ingenious strategy for them. But not we fell into the trap.
Finally, the Department of Justice of the United States intervened, forcing Microsoft to sell patents he bought and demanding that the group that won the auction (Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, EMC) gave a license to the open source community. These changes were, according to the Department of Justice, “needed to protect competition and innovation in the open source software community”. This only confirms our point: our competitors are waging a patent war against Android and working together to prevent us to get patents that would help redress the balance.