25
Jul
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Update: It appears Samsung sent out the update removing universal search from international Galaxy S III's mistakenly. I'd say the point still stands for the United States, though.

On December 1, 2004, a patent was filed in the United States naming Apple as asignee (owner). Its title is "Universal interface for retrieval of information in a computer system." This patent, which you can find here, has become Apple's most effective weapon in its fight to see Android dubbed an iOS "ripoff" by courts and consumers.

And effective it has been - Samsung just removed the local search feature from the international version of the Galaxy S III, having already removed it from the US versions on AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon. It didn't even have to. Samsung did it only as a precaution. And that shows just how much faith they have in Google to fix it.

This is the patent that resulted in the ban of the Galaxy Nexus in the United States. Then, Google claimed it would be sending out an update that addressed the issue, right before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily lifted the ban, allowing sales to resume. Google hasn't yet issued said software update, and has specifically said that the Jelly Bean update to the handset doesn't change any search functionality on the device.

Google's play here (no pun intended) is likely to push off any further discussion of injunctive relief until it is able to have Apple's patent investigated by the USPTO, presumably in an attempt to have it invalidated or narrowed by prior art. However, given that Apple's '604 patent has already survived scrutiny in various cases, this is far from a likelihood. Google would very much like to see this patent vaporized - but that just doesn't seem like something they should be betting on at this point.

Not Our Problem

In fact, Google almost seems disconnected from reality when it comes to Apple's patent allegations against Android manufacturers. Apple's ITC victory over HTC for its data-tapping patent resulted in the halting of at least 4 smartphones by US Customs - the One X, EVO 4G LTE, Amaze 4G, and Incredible 4G LTE (inferred through a not-so-mysterious one month launch delay). The One S was likely also affected, but T-Mobile may have had sufficient stock on hand to avoid a supply issue. So, what did Google do? Nothing. HTC issued software patches to the affected devices removing Android's "app picker" functionality, implementing a default app associations menu in settings that makes for quite a poor substitute. And now Apple says they aren't finished - demanding further bans under the same patent (the ITC dismissed the claim, but Apple is appealing), this time in Gmail.

Screenshot_2012-07-25-14-51-01 Screenshot_2012-07-25-14-50-53

HTC's "App associations" menu, found only on US handsets

As far as we know, no changes have been made to Android that avoid this Apple patent (there is a new app picker in Jelly Bean, but Apple's claim is on a highly technical underlying part of the system, not the mere concept).

And let's not forget the spat Motorola had with Apple over this same feature, which Motorola was lucky enough to have thrown out by a judge who disagreed with Apple's remedy demands on legal principle.

"Workaround" has become a euphemism for "removal," and make no mistake: it means Android is losing this patent war.

The biggest problem is that none of this is Samsung, Motorola, or HTC's fault. It's Google's. These are core Android features, designed and implemented by Google, and used by their handset partners as licensees. While Motorola is now a part of Google itself, Samsung and HTC can't be ecstatic about Google's response to Apple's legal onslaught thus far. As its partners pour millions of dollars into these legal entanglements and see device launches squandered by bans (in HTC's case), Google sits back and "waits it out."

I would hope there are developers at Google working on solutions that avoid these Apple patents, but given the amount of time the company has had to know that these were issues, its response has been woefully inadequate, if not downright pathetic. It has known about Apple's complaint against the Galaxy Nexus since February. It has known about the decision against HTC at the ITC since December of 2011. How difficult are some of these technical patents to work around? It's hard to say, but it certainly can't be impossible, and I think it's time for Google to be a little more vocal on how it plans on dealing with them.

The Middle Man

The counterpoint is that these are simply allegations, and not against Google. Why should Google start running around coding around things if the outcomes of these legal battles are uncertain, especially when it's not actually the party being sued? Isn't it simply an admission of guilt? Legally, no, it's not - Apple can't take Google's actions post-accusation and say "Ha! See what they did there? They knew they were in the wrong." There are obvious reasons for this (eg, cautionary measures), but then there's the matter of how that looks to everyone watching. And there's also just the domino-effect argument - if Google caves once and implements a workaround to an Apple patent, everyone will see that weakness and expect them to do it again and again, until Android is a useless, dumbed-down lump. That certainly is a risk, but I'd argue the immediate threat is greater: bans and feature-stripping are hurting Android right now.

Manufacturers have already started doing this dumbing-down for Google. They've caved in, removed features, even when they didn't have to, in Samsung's case. And that's bad. Google is Android, but to say the manufacturers are separate from that is delusional. Without the manufacturers selling these millions of Android phones, Android is nothing but a piece of software. And as far as most lay consumers are concerned, Samsung, HTC, and Motorola are Android. They could care less about an abstract concept like "software" - they know Android as the phone in their hand.

And when the BBC starts thinking that the removal of a software feature from a smartphone is newsworthy, it's time to stop pretending you have the situation under control.

So, what happens if Samsung loses that lawsuit against Apple on the unified search patent? What does Google do then? If its actions post-HTC are any indication, nothing. Expect Samsung to fix it, perhaps. But we know that's not what would happen. Because Google's Galaxy Nexus handset has been accused of infringement, they'll fix it. They'll work around it - and everyone will get access to that workaround in AOSP. They wouldn't dare remove a core OS feature from a Nexus device, certainly not permanently. Of course, if it's not a Nexus device being accused, then the outcome ends up being much less certain for the party on the receiving end of those accusations.

And if Google did issue such a fix, you can have reasonably certainty that it would actually be a fix. They won't strip a feature out, they'll come up with a way to solve the problem. Manufacturers, on the other hand, could really care less about doing it "right." Do you really think HTC is super concerned about the app picker as it's paying millions in legal fees, and millions more go down the drain in lost sales caused by delayed launches? Somehow I doubt it. Even if you think Google doesn't have a responsibility to deal with these problems, there's no denying that they're the only ones truly capable of fixing them.

Conclusion

Increasingly, consumers are being put on the front line of Android and Apple's legal wrangling, and that's simply the wrong way to deal with this situation. The last thing you ever want to do is have them feel the effect of a lawsuit they have nothing to do with. Google, as much as I'm sure it feels good to take the moral high ground and stubbornly refuse to code and design around Apple's thinly-veiled market share war lawsuits, I can guarantee the people actually using your software on a daily basis don't want any part of it.

I doubt anyone feels any better now that their Galaxy S III no longer has universal search, or that their EVO 4G LTE has a neutered "app associations" menu and arrived at their doorstep several weeks late, so long as it means Apple doesn't "win." And when HTC and Samsung do things like that, they're just telling us Apple is winning. If spending a bunch of time coming up with real workarounds to these patent allegations is what has to be done to get these features back, so be it. Even if Apple's patents are later invalidated, at least your users won't get a gimped experience.

Google, as much as I want to support you in taking a firm stance against the absurdity of what companies like Apple are doing, I think Kenny Rogers said it best: you got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. A compromise here and there isn't the end of the world.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/psycho_maniac_ Jerry Lange

    I don't get the last sentence. Are you saying google should give up?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I'm saying it should know when to compromise. I guess that is a bit unclear.

      • http://twitter.com/HRTheJoey Joey B

        A compromise with Apple would be Android not existing.

        • SK

          Or, you can't comprehend sentences. David is saying that Google should comprise on it's stance of "The patent in invalid, we won't implement a workaround" and just go ahead and implement a workaround so that the end user doesn't have to deal with broken features.

      • MicroNix

        Apple is not interested in compromise. Only Android's death. Its time to start getting the word out to family, friends, Facebook posts, etc., about Apple's abuse of the patent system. Grass roots to get people to acknowledge and turn away from Apple.

  • Joshua Powers

    Android isn't losing the war, why does everybody ignore the fact that Apple's products also have been found to infringe on a number of patents as well. Also your ignoring that in the USA, there are so many broadly worded software related patents, it's impossible to produce anything without infringing on at least a few of them, heck you could build a toaster and I'm sure Apple has patent's to cover that.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Apple has been found to infringe on several SEPs (standards-essential patents) owned by various MFUs, but these simply aren't very powerful in litigation - they hold very little weight, and while they can win a royalty, it's usually a very small one.

      And I completely agree that software patents are out of control in the US. The system needs reworking. I'm just saying that in the here and now, Google's strategy is hurting more than it's helping Android.

      • Phillip Hagger

        The royalty only need be a cross licensing agreement.

      • John Hoffman

        Isn't google in a bit of a sticky wicket. Since the software for Android is GPL and freely available isn't that going to make it really hard to patent features. Google is completely ignoring the patent process. They are writing the software and releasing it to anyone and then profiting on advertising or the play store.

        So it seems to me that in this battle it's like fighting with your hands behind your back.

        Apple on the other hand wants to use patents to prevent anyone from using any feature even the most trivial feature. They patent every thought that they have to ensure that they are locking down as much market as possible. This isn't what the patent system was intended for. Apple has profited from it's idea's and now they are playing protectionist games in a area that is exploding and evolving at the speed of light.

        The patent system where it applies to computer software is desperately in need of revision. Life of patents need to be dramatically reduced.

        • SK

          Only the kernel is GPL. The rest of the Android OS is Apache or BSD. Both of these licenses allow not having to distribute the code with the binary. That's why HTC doesn't have to release the code for HTC Sense. Also, patenting isn't mutually exclusive with all open source licenses. You can still patent and just allow it to be used only for code derived from your code and part of your project.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1534593949 Vinny Tuzeo

    ....android is easier to use, more fun to use, more customizable, more compaitible. Android phones are great quality, hard to break (for the most part) and east to use.

    the fact that apples sells so much of such an inferior product scares me because people are stupid enough to buy it. but eh, screw em, if they want fragile, shitty phones, that are at the beck and call of apple...then so be it.

  • Aaron Berlin

    Samsung and HTC are actually selling shipping products at real risk of being banned, and I can see why the fastest way to keep your product selling is to just turn something off. That shouldn't be regarded as "giving up" so much as they just can't afford to sit on their inventory like that. Defeating that patent only requires a method that doesn't meet all of Apple's claims (of which there are 21). I'm sure that can be done and, when it is, we'll forget this ever happened, unless of course the OEMs never bother to push out the update to the phone's they've hobbled to avoid the injunction.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I agree, Samsung and HTC are definitely making the only logical business decision here. The problem, in my mind, is that Google should be doing something that doesn't mean "flipping the switch" on valuable features.

      • Aaron Berlin

        My point is that they almost certainly are. For all we know, the search implementation in JB is different from the one in ICS in whatever way it needs to be to avoid Apple's patent claim. Don't focus too much on the outcome (universal search results) as on the method, which isn't really very transparent to laypeople such as myself.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          The universal search still likely violates in JB, as Google's comments suggest.

          • Aaron Berlin

            "Functionality" doesn't relate to method and method is what matters. Maybe they didn't change anything at all, I'm just speculating. But in the end these guys are really good engineers who can afford really good lawyers. Between the two sets, I can't imagine they can't engineer around this so that, from a functionality standpoint, the two are effectively identical.

          • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

            In all fairness, the patent is pretty widely (read: vaguely) defined such that any workaround would still appear to either directly violate the patent, or it would only side-step it such small ways that Apple could argue the patent still applies. Considering how vague the patent is, it either needs to be forced into specificity (as David suggested), invalidated (as Google hopes for), or it should be forced into licensing agreements (as opposed to outright bans as Apple desires).

            Frankly, I believe the concept of 'Universal Search' is inherently obvious (and has a LOT of prior art). The patent should be examined from the context that there must be a possible way to design around it (as is intended by patent law), and the patent should not be written in a way that guards the concept regardless of the method. While Google may be playing chicken with Apple in this war, I think this is actually one patent fight where Google should stand their ground. As long as the patent examination isn't done by people who've been bought off (like judge Lucy Koh), I can't see how the patent will be allowed to persist in it's current form (assuming it isn't invalidated entirely), and I think Google is right to wait this one out until they know what direction the wind is blowing.

  • Alroger Jr

    I wish I had the app association settings instead the app picker!

  • NeedName

    Google can't invalidate apple's patent unless apple sues Google, and apple won't do that. They want to go after banning products, not a real fight. They know in time that most all these patents will be either invalidated or a proper work-around will be developed, but for now they can attempt to gain market share via court ordered bans which, are total BS.

    And there isn't much Google could do to stop apple form acting like a spoiled brat in the tech sand pit — the patent system is fubared and apple has learned very well how to abuse it. That's where consumers need to step up and stop buying apple's over-priced, over-hyped, under-featured iGadgets and send apple back to the 90's.

    • http://www.androidradar.de/ Leif

      True.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Wrong. Google can request to intervene, as it has in the HTC v. Nokia case. Google just hasn't chosen to do so in any other case, for fear of getting its hands dirty.

      • NeedName

        not really accurate there.

        they can *request* to intervene — the court has all the say, thus, they really can't do a whole hell of a lot till they are directly attacked other than give what little support they can — remember how those patents went over with the courts that they "loaned" to HTC?

        You are missing the whole point of this chess match — Android partners need apple to show their hand and find out what patents they have in their closet to come after them with. Google getting all butt hurt over it and acting like apple will help no one. Take their time, allow apple enough rope, then tie the noose for them.

      • NeedName

        Also. . . do you really think that Google doesn't have some of their attorneys busting hump to find evidence to invalidate each and every patent apple brings forth in order to help their hardware partners and themselves, and sharing what they find with their hardware partners? Just because they aren't filing some brief with the court doesn't mean they aren't doing all they currently can to support their partners. Filing a brief with the courts means f' all. Digging up evidence of prior art means a lot.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          Filing a request to intervene means a lot, too. Symbolically. It shows that Google is actually willing to stand by its manufacturer partners being sued because they used Google's software.

          Also, a request to intervene here would almost certainly be granted. Google is the inventor of the software at issue, and even if it doesn't make the products accused of infringing, it is clearly a party with a very definite interest in the outcome of the case, and could suffer if that outcome was unfavorable.

          • NeedName

            Yeah, OK. . . cause spending 12 billion for patents means nothing compared to that "symbolic" gesture.

            Think you've missed on this one. . . . just a bit.

        • Jei Arc

          I don't know if Google's attorneys are busting their humps looking for art. However i do think that whoever is working for Samsung or any other OEM is not doing a great job. I did a quick query to look for a "global search" or a unified search. This is what i came up with i know is not a perfect art but it reads broadly on performing a query on a "local" system and acquiring information from the local system and a "host" system, here is noted the host system is a remote database.
          "That system purports to provide a rapid search and display, on a local
          computer monitor, simultaneously of graphical and related textual
          information contained on a "graphical relational database" and a large tabular
          database contained on both the local system and a host system, in response to a user search query entered into the local
          system." the Pat # is 5325297.

          Now i do not pretend to have read Apple's claims but from reading the general idea in several blogs i think it is a fairly close. Maybe Mr. Ruddock has a little more insight on this. I am just an average consumer.

          just my $0.02

    • Guest__Comment

      > They want to go after banning products, not a real fight.

      Only you define "a real fight" of a patent????

  • Lou LeDerp

    Google doesn't do any magic
    It will adapt over time even though it doessss take time for those changes to happen.
    I guess they're waiting for Apple to attack them "directly" to unleash their arsenal, you know wait for that one mistake before striking hard.

    on samsungs end theyre doing their best to fight back with what they have
    http://www.bgr.com/2012/07/25/samsung-apple-patent-lawsuit-documents-revealed/

  • Zak Taccardi

    won't apple be royally fucked when Google is granted the notifcation pulldown patent?

    • http://twitter.com/rohanXm Rohan Mathur

      And now its on OSX also :) "GOOGLE BANS SALE OF ALL APPLE PRODUCTS" Oh man I really can't wait.

      • http://droiddev.co.cc/ CuriousCursor

        -_- Seriously. The OS X implementation is sideways.

      • Bas

        I'm going to laugh, organize a party, make the date of the ban a national holiday.

      • http://twitter.com/rohanXm Rohan Mathur

        Just imagine... walk into an Apple store and all they have are cases and software.... no Macs out for playing with, no iPhones, iPads, nothing... oh geez :)

    • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

      The problem is, Google hasn't been granted the patent.

      • http://twitter.com/xplodwild Guillaume

        Yet

    • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

      The problem is, Google hasn't been granted the patent.

    • RajivSK

      The time for patents is over, invest in a nuclear arsenal and be done with it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1745689461 Hal Motley

      Hell yeah, besides I find notifications on iOS to be clunky being a 4.0 user. Before I saw the truth and grabbed a Galaxy S II with CyanogenMod 9!

    • http://twitter.com/imran_uh Imran ul Haque

      Has google applied for that too...??

  • http://twitter.com/KickingLettuce Kicking Lettuce

    It's odd that Google is still doing nothing, even after a mega-billion dollar deal to buy Moto's patents. What was the point again? You know, in sports, they say the best defense is a good offense.

    • http://twitter.com/mariodnyc Mario

      Google makes money with the apps it has on iOS. They just released Chrome for iOS and it's at the top of the charts . You don't cut off your nose to spite your face.

      • http://twitter.com/KickingLettuce Kicking Lettuce

        But Samsung makes money on Apple yet they are going back and forth. Apple wouldnt alienate their user base who obviously prefer Chrome so I think it's a safe bet for Google to get involved. Besides, Apple is already removing Google products when possible (i.e. Maps).

  • Olivier

    I only wished they had given few of those millions to the geek programmers at xda developers just to develop a walk around.

  • http://twitter.com/Bohm_NN Nitinart Nunthong

    good article. I love Android. I hope Google will do something to help OEMs about this patent war. dont wanna see little green robot lost.

  • marcusmaximus04

    I haven't read the app picker patent, but the universal search one is nearly impossible to work around.

    Google's options there would be to:
    A: include no more than 1 heuristic-based search(severely limiting the possible results, since the vast majority of commonly used search implementations use heuristics, since they're provably far more efficient)

    B: Have a different interface for each type of search; essentially remove universal search entirely

    ...and that's about it. If you read the actual claims in the universal search patent, it's incredibly broad, just requiring a single interface to search between multiple sources using heuristic search algorithms. It even directly states that it isn't limited to any specific search algorithms or combinations of them.

    Google seems to be completely screwed on that one unless they can get the patent invalidated and/or force Apple to license it.

  • bblackmoor

    This isn't Google's fault. It's not even Apple's fault, although Apple deserves scorn and retribution for taking advantage of it. The fault lies with the courts and legislature of the USA, which has not merely permitted, but enabled and encouraged frivolous patents and legalized extortion using the grievously broken patent system. Patents should be ABOLISHED in their entirety. They do not promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, and the Congress has no obligation to grant them -- it has the authority, but by no means the obligation. The "patent experiment" has failed, and it's time to put an end to it.

    • Knlegend1

      I don't know about that. Patents are there to protect your product. They should though be significant. What Apple is doing is low. The stuff they are suing over is meaningless and does "not promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts." This site should be full of innovations and the wonderful things about Android. Instead we have to witness this bull shit!!!

      • NeedName

        Patents are granted via the Constitution of the USA for 'the public good.' They are there "to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries" and therefore, to the benefit of the *public* as that's who the government is for — the US government was created by the private public for "the good of the people."

        The whole idea behind patents in the US Constitution is to 'create more goods for the public' — in other words, it's an incentive to benefit the public as a whole, not the individual who came up with the idea — they're given an incentive in order to 'benefit the public."

        At this point, nothing apple is doing in these lawsuits is 'benefiting the public good' and anyone who thinks they are is flat out nuts. This whole idea is the basis for Posner's tossing of the Moto Vs apple case — the 'public good' takes precedent over everything however, most of the US government and legal system has completely forgotten that tidbit.

        • MicroNix

          Patents for very specific items should go on, but broad patents on everything from A to Z such as what Apple does, should be abolished. There also needs to be a hell of a lot more research on prior art as its all over the place on many of these granted Apple patents.

          • NeedName

            I agree. Patents need to return to a functional item — no more of this "patent any idea you can put onto paper" BS, and no software patents which are generally a patent on an idea. Somewhere the patent offices forgot that they are not allowed to patent ideas.

          • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

            The problem started when lawyers got good at describing an idea as a process.

      • SK

        Also, the life of the patents should depend on the field. A patent on medical research that takes several years probably deserves 20 yrs or protection. But a patent of SW that takes just a year or less to design and implement should not have 20 yrs of protection.

        The tech/mobile field move so fast, that having patents valid longer than a 5 years is very questionable. 2 yrs wold probably be more appropriate.

        I'm just throwing made up numbers, but you get the point.

        • NeedName

          You make good points. I also think that all patent holders MUST license their patent to whomever wants to use them at reasonable rates — the idea of keeping it to yourself is not the point of patent protection in the US Constitution. The point is to "provide more goods for the public good" and by not licensing a patent a company acts against the "public good."

  • Major_Pita

    Motorola (Google) holds patents on key media streaming codecs that will break (by their absense)much of iPhones key web capabilities. Samsung holds key telecom patents that Apple has refused to license. They along with any other keystone patent holders should simply refuse to license that technology and get an injunction against Apple banning iPhones and iPads until Apple caves and concedes that several of these disputed issues should be standards and not patented in the first place. Right before the release of the iPhone 5.

    • NeedName

      Well. . . you see, that's where the system is very screwed. Important patents, those which you speak of, are considered "necessary" and therefore become FRAND which means that the worst the companies can do with them is get paid — they can't block devices with FRAND patents. And there's the big joke — crApple is getting away with banning devices for craptastic patents in general while they free-ride on quality patents.

      If the 'universal search' patent is truly valid, apple ought to be forced to license it via FRAND. . . but that would require the courts to think.

    • miso_sori

      Some of those patents are covered under FRAND which means they are compelled to license it at a fair license fee.

  • http://twitter.com/Mastermind763 Jake Camp

    F*ck Apple

  • Knlegend1

    Even if one day Apple buries Google with these lawsuits and the outcome is Android is finished, I'd never give Apple my money. I'd either go to Windows phone 10 or a flip phone. I will never use an iphone as my device. May play with it in a store but that's about it. If they can't innovate beyond iOS 6 then they are useless anyways. iOS 6 is nothing more than an attempt to make it to 2010 or 2011. All those Apple fanboys thinking that the iphone 5 is going to be impressive are wrong. Its about software and Apple knows Google is killing them. Apple ain't got that butter lmao. That's dumb but oh so funny.

    • NeedName

      Same here. The only thing apple has accomplished with these lawsuits for me is, to ensure I NEVER buy any of their products and always recommend other products to anyone and everyone.

    • ElfirBFG

      At the time I bought my phone(Atrix 4G[~4months old]) last year(June), the only available iOS options were the 3GS($99 or free, don't remember) or the iP4($199-299). My phone was free on contract. If I had gone for the iP4, I would have been VERY upset in October, and even more so by this point. Instead, I've had an amazingly fast phone since date of purchase, in fact, it's only gotten faster. Sure, I had to unlock the BL and root to improve it, but if I had the iP4 and jailbroken it, I would be nowhere near where I am with my phone. I have a dual-core SoC capable of over-clocking, I've ran it at 1.45GHz for months after first getting CM9 in February. Now I'm running a CM10 alpha and it is even faster now, even at the stock 1GHz. If I had an iP4, NOTHING would have changed, I would have been stuck with an outdated phone not 6 months after purchase. Instead, I've had a phone that's been great and is still highly capable despite having not one but TWO phones released in its line. I made the right choice.

      That right there, is why I'd NEVER go back to iOS. Sure, they have resale value, but I'd much rather a phone that doesn't need to be sold in order to upgrade.

      • Knlegend1

        That's the beauty of Android.

    • Guest__Comment

      > I'd never give Apple my money

      You are free to give (or not give) any company your money.

      I do it based on "the best product for me, with the best features, and the best price".

      You are certainly free to "continuously count the number of lawsuits that every company files"... and then base your decision on "which cell phone to buy".... but I do it VERY differently.

      • Knlegend1

        Okay.

      • Aerinx

        Apple loses big with any of those methods, it doesn't matter.

  • http://twitter.com/Bateluer Robert Boluyt

    This is where courts need to step in and not only invalid these overly broad patents but also levy huge financial penalties against Apple to discourage the practice of litigation in the future.

  • Gary Patrowicz

    Apple has nothing left to lose they spend more on litigation than development. These are the cries of a dying company. How long can you convince people that your outdated crap is worth their hard earned $$$. They must fight or lay down and die. As more people get used to android and linux les people buy crapple and microsh*t. They will tell you that free and open source is bad (mainly bad for their wallets). Computers are no longer looked at as a magic box and the more people who understand how a computer works the more people who turn toward open source! I hear these patent suits as a death rattle for Crapple

    • Alan

      Stopped reading your post as soon as I saw microsh*t, the 90s called and want their MS hate back!!?!

  • Hit or Miss

    I am not too worried. After all Apple once again missed it's projections even with all of these stupid patent lawsuits (which actually could be doing them more harm than good). I just bought a Samsung Galaxy S3 and don't really care that it is missing said "local search feature".

    I get that you are putting this out there to try to keep people up to date on the goings ons of major Android players, but at the same time I just don't see it being nearly as "end of the Android world" as parts of your article seem to try to make it.

    • guthrie

      If it's not the end, it certainly is an erosion. As he mentions, companies are now taking the steps to modify (ie. dumb down) their designs to avoid fight Google isn't taking.

      Apple missed their projection on iPads but actually gained percentage of the total market share. If it all meant nothing, Apple wouldn't be pursuing it.

      It's time to appreciate writers who are examining this issue more critically rather than accusing them of yelling, "Fire!". Ignoring it won't make it go away and it's refreshing to see some good editorializing rather than another stupid filler article about new apps, etc.

  • Treknologist

    I don't think Google has given up on anything. They are just taking a different approach. Here is something I read on PC World that may be of interest:
    http://www.pcworld.com/article/259663/many_apple_technologies_should_be_shared_standards_google_says.html#tk.nl_dnx_h_crawl

  • satoru mastershima

    i wonder why google wont do the same for apple. after all their new notification pull down menu is a complete an dutter rip off of androids notification. sigh apple you f*cking suck so much that you've resorted to these petty schemes to try and halt your competitors innovation just so you can play catch up.

  • mduran1023

    My name is Marco, and I approve this message.

  • http://twitter.com/Lammjr Lamm

    meh, google should block google.com on all apple devices. That would turn some heads. (Yeah i know, antitrust..., but I would lol hard.

  • http://www.facebook.com/antonii.ktos Antonii Ktoś

    Don't understand. You complain about Google, but in your article there is no example how google should deal with patent allegations. It easy to complain but hard to come up with solutions.

    • MicroNix

      We sure Mitt Romney didn't write this article?

  • http://www.androidradar.de/ Leif

    Guess the SGS III will get it back with Jellybean. It's still working very fine on the Nexus with Jellybean so I guess Samsung is just looking forward to that update.

    And about the patent laws - the biggest power has the consumer. We decide if we purchase and support the products of companies who act like Apple and some others and we also have the ability to bringt those problems into the politics. _WHEN_ we really care about it, and not just flame about those things in the internet and buy their products next day.

  • Christopher Wilmeth

    I hate being the guy to do this, but please remember its *could NOT care less*. "Could care less" implies a certain level of caring, which is detrimental to the point you're trying to make. I love this article, but simple mistakes like that hurt your credibility as a writer.

    • ChristianFletch

      True. Though the writer eventually made his position clear though the article itself, it's a phrase that adds confusion when used incorrectly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jasonconort Jason Conort

    This is beyond sad. Google the company that has the omni box for search, can't put an all in one search bar on there phones. Seriously? But then why should our patent system be any less broken than our other systems? As far as Apple not being at fault because its the system's fault? Well there are a lot of things people can do,but end up not doing based on principal. Apple has none.

  • Caldera

    That's "Couldn't care less," not "could care less." You are saying the opposite of your intent.

    • http://www.facebook.com/vivecuervo7 Isaac Dedini

      I think it was written the way he intended it

  • Jon Garrett

    If I were Google or Samsung or any other manufacturer, Id remove all the shit apple has a claim to and then Id make apps that can be installed which would put these features right back in. they wouldn't be part of the core OS or come per-installed, they'd be free open source apps developed by some unknown programmer and made available for anyone to install.

    • anywherehome

      no, Apple would succeed and would make Android unusable......80 % uses a phone as it is

  • cooldoods

    maybe it would be better if universal search and other contested pieces of software were not included in the phones out of the box. let the owners download updates which install them onto their phones. Now who are Apple going to sue?

  • Freak4Dell

    Personally, I think it's unfair to think that Google isn't doing anything. They're more than likely working hard behind the scenes to be ready for the day when Apple does come after them directly. Until then, maybe they're just playing a strategic game of chicken. They don't want to show Apple that they'll crumble first. If I had as much money and resources as these companies do, I would do the same thing. A lot of battles are won by simply forcing the other party to give up first. Just because Samsung wants to cave in and change their product doesn't mean that Google has to until there's no other option left.

    I don't think it's hurting Android as much as you think it is, either. It's probably hurting Samsung, sure, but Android seems to be doing fine even if certain devices disappear off the market for a few days here and there. For Apple, it would be a different story, since they only have one device, but the diverse Android portfolio basically ensures that one device being unavailable won't make the entire system suffer a big hit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Alden/100000469737019 Christopher Alden

    Software patents need to die. The sad state of the mobile industry is exhibit A.

  • http://twitter.com/Jarodmellor Jarod Mellor

    Its about time we just burn down apple, the company is anti competetive, and a disgrace to how to run a company. If they want to compete do it by actually making a half decent device rather than the current piece of trash they have. Its pathetic that they have come to this.

  • Jameslepable

    This update that stops unified search is anyone actually effect. My mate has an international s3 and got the update this morning before I had the chance to warn him. I tried the search and it worked? Could search for apps, contact etc. Is it just the built in search then you can download it of the play store and just use that version?

  • lorenzobjuarez

    I totally agree! What I REALLY scared of happening is that companies like Samsung and HTC get fed up with Google just "watching" and doing nothing and they jump ship 2 microsxxt! Can you imagine the headlines? Windows Phone now runs on 51.3% of the smartphone market! Argh! How awful!!!
    The problem here for Apple is that they are being OUTNUMBER... BAD! That is the main reason Android DOMINATES the smartphone market and the ugly little FroYo & Gingerbread even stood a chance agains butter smooth eye candy iOS. Lets face it, ICS was the FIRST software that ran at an appealing iOS level.
    Android has MORE THAN one new phone released by one of its partners monthly! Ppl. arent just gonna sit by like Google and watch or wait another year because the 4S was TOTAL JUNK and a robbery for whoever bought it!!! BUT if history has taught us anything about Google is that they are ALWAYS ahead of the game with out us even knowing it!
    1up 4 ANDROID!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1725862986 Louis Wang

    Apple is so scared of Android it's not even funny...

  • anywherehome

    just boycott Apple and his iRotten, ill and immoral behaviour:
    https://sites.google com/site/corpsins/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anton-Khmelnitskiy/100001709507962 Anton Khmelnitskiy

    Stupidity of patent system should be obvious to everyone now. The whole patent system is wrong and unjust.

  • http://twitter.com/wordsmanifest WordsManifest

    Thinking sideways, I can't help but come to the conclusion that this situation will nudge manufacturers to install stock Android on their future devices. You know, "let Google deal with the fallout". It might actually get everyone to man up, and we'll all get the Android setups Google meant for us (minus the features Apple wants removed).

  • Matt Sokolinski

    US judges are imbeciles .... apple is allowed to block other manufacturers products based on e.g swipe to unlock patent. This has nothing to do with apple loosing profits therefore injunctions shouldn't be granted just royalties. Injunction should be granted on things like direct copy of the product (KIRF products from china ) just because its got a bit of a code doesn't mean that whole device is like iPhone. Whoever has notification pulldown patent should get on to apple and show them how it feels

    • Oliver Petruzel

      Not all of them.. we still have Judge Posner. Unfortunately, he's not the one with the reigns in the current U.S. Samsung vs. Apple case -- that would be Koh, and she's clearly in Apple's pocket... hell, her husband sits on the board of the lawfirm that is representing Apple!! How is that allowed?! :(

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

        Wow, really? I missed that one. Just last year Samsung filed to have 20 Apple lawyers thrown off of a case because they had previously worked for Samsung on similar cases. I forget what happened, but this strikes me as being even worse. Her husband oversees a firm that appears in her courtroom, that literally defines 'conflict of interests'. Samsung might actually be smart to let this go to trial, and if things aren't turning out in their favor, they should file to have Koh removed from the case.

  • tBs_Battousai

    I think just about everyone here agrees that the patent system IS broken and NEEDS fixing ASAP but until you start to lobby congress and show them that voters want patent reform it's just never going to happen...

  • Jaap

    That unifief search-patent is een crapload of bullshit altogether. Initiate Launcher did that on my Treo 650 back in 2004 or something...

  • Mike Smith

    I think Google needs to help the likes of HTC, Samsung , LG and various other Android phone manufacturers as without them android would not be what it is today.

    It really is disgusting that Apple have to use these patents to claw money instead of making their hardware and software better really does limit/restrict innovation.

    Google needs to go head to head against Apple and like the 1st post said when the pull down notification bar is granted Apple is in for it , we all know that Apple has got a bee in their bonnet about Android even Steve Jobs (RIP) hated it with passion but the stats talk.

    Last time i looked the mobile OS market was Apple 30.2% and Android 50.1% , Google if you can see this do something about apple's constant bullshit patent attacks!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/hudspeth Mathew Hudspeth

    Doesn't Google establish a pretty beefy online profile of account users? As such, could it not claim that it isn't searching the device at all? It could merely examine your established online profile to provide info about contacts, installed apps, etc. Not sure how this would work offline, but perhaps they could "cache" that online profile on the phone.. There are a lot of technicalities, and for every simple way to perform a task, there are many convoluted ways to do it differently. I think the workarounds won't be a problem.

  • Guest__Comment

    How DARE that horrible Apple company be the first to legally patent that idea. Only the other non-Apple companies should have the right to patent things, and defend their patent when it gets stolen!

    • Kellic

      Dear ASSHAT. Do you REALLY think Apple is the first person to search local and internet data sources at the same time? Let me introduce you to my 2002 Pocket PC you Apple brown noser. Let me introduce you to Google Desktop app that was doing this before Apple even thought of the idea. Let me introduce you to
      http://www.copernic.com/ that was doing this back in the god damn '90. Apple doesn't invent shit. They are just first to patent the idea.

    • Oliver Petruzel

      I think the idea is that NO company should ever be granted such vague patents on IDEAS that are ridiculously obvious and/or the natural evolution of said ideas in mobile computing. The reason everyone hates on Apple right now is that they are blatantly (and without hesitation) taking advantage of that flawed patent system in order to ban their competition. Hell, they're not even offering the competition the option to license (aka "pay for") said ideas!

      F@%k Apple.

  • Kellic

    Honestly I wish WebOS was around as a legit option. I'd drop Android. If Google doesn't give a shit about Android, why should I?

  • http://twitter.com/contestsjo JoshO

    According to what Samsung told TechRadar, removing the search from International phones wasn't intentional: http://www.techradar.com/news/phone-and-communications/mobile-phones/samsung-universal-search-removal-was-inadvertent-on-uk-galaxy-s3-1090227

  • Gavin

    This is why i want to kill all apple fans and lawsuit firms. They are just being pussies and trying to create a monopoly.And that should be all the evidence that google needs. Because a monopoly in america is illegal. Remember what happend to at&t. The same could easily happen to apple... Even worse i just bought the s3 yesterday. Amd without a universal search feature... i hate it. Thing is appledidnt patent that either. Microsoft and linux invented it first. They had a universal search feature befire any phine or pc or mac ever invented. And also apple wasnt the first phone with it either. Before ios there were quiye a few phomea with a universal search feature. It was slow, but still came along before apple rose to power. Proving that apples lawsuit is a load of fucking shit.

  • ScottKarbon

    I'm no lawyer, but I think Google can claim prior art - this stuff seems an awful lot like what Google Desktop Search did.