Lately, it seems like news about patent lawsuits and bullying is worse than most Hollywood gossip. Frankly, most of the suits are about as justified as Hollywood gossip, if not less. Nevertheless, there are bright spots - such as when the big dogs step up alongside developers to help fight back the patent trolls. Such happened yesterday, when it was revealed that Google has joined Apple in the fight against patent troll Lodsys' claims against developers.
Lodsys, the king troll of all patent trolls, has been attacking developers of both Android and iOS apps for a few months now (yeah, even Rovio) with their claims of owning a patent to the free->paid upgrade process using in-app purchases.
Yesterday a German court sided with Apple against Samsung, disallowing the sale of Galaxy Tab 10.1 units in the European Union. Buried deep within this filing is mention of yet another complaint -- but this one is against Motorola, allegedly over the design of the XOOM.
This has been a back-and-forth battle between the two companies for sometime now, with Moto originally going after Apple for violating 18 patents in iOS and some Macs back in October of 2010.
When Google's General Counsel, David Drummond, posted the first real public response by the search giant to the intellectual property war being waged on Android, the techblogosphere just about peed their collective pants in excitement. Everyone loves a good flame war, it's true. Google called out Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle - by name - publicly. It doesn't get much better than that.
Unfortunately, this probably isn't going to help Google's ongoing battles with those companies, and it's not going to help the company's public image, either.
In a recent patent suit between HTC and Apple, the US International Trade Commission found the Taiwanese manufacturer liable on two counts of patent infringement in its Android-based devices (see our earlier post for a detailed analysis of the case and its effects).
Although this suit only involves Apple and HTC, its legal ramifications could affect Android as a whole - since the alleged infringements are core parts of the Android OS developed by Google.
In probably the least subtle unofficial announcement possible, the Cut The Rope developer team (via Twitter) sent us a message with this picture:
Now, whether there is supposed to be an "Amazon" there is unknown. If so, they might want to change the spelling - lest they give Apple some ammunition in its recent litigation. And if it is an Amazon Appstore release, that means it's likely non-US Android users won't be able to access it for a couple of weeks.
Update 3: ZodTTD, developer of several well-known emulators, recently met a similar fate as yongzh - both his Market account and his apps were removed. Today, he decided to clarify a few things in a blog post, noting that the removal of the apps was not due to an open source violation but rather came as a result of a trademark infringement letter from Sony to Google concerning PSX4Droid's icon.
I would like to say that this comes as a surprise... but I would be lying. Two Michigan women have filed a class-action lawsuit against Google for location tracking features used in Android's GPS, stating that it puts "users at serious risk of privacy invasions, including stalking." Their request? That Google stops selling phones that can track users location. Puh-lease.
This $50 million class action lawsuit comes after Google acknowledged that Android phones temporarily store some location based data directly on the phone after using GPS.
Well, not solely for Android and Chrome - but presumably those products are the headliners affected by this patent bid. Google is currently bidding on a collection of over 6,000 patents held by Nortel Networks, which is selling the portfolio as part of bankruptcy proceedings. Google tossed its name in the hat with an initial offering of $900,000,000 - not exactly chump change.
Many of the patents relate to wireless technology (such as LTE) and data networking, but undoubtedly Google found some of them to be in the particular interest of protecting Android and Chrome, as Google's General Counsel indicted on the company's blog.
Amazon's upcoming Android Market competitor, the Amazon Appstore, is in hot water for its namesake. On Monday, Apple filed a lawsuit in a California federal court claiming Amazon had infringed on its trademark of the phrase "App Store." Apple applied for a trademark to this name way back in 2008, but it wasn't approved until January of 2010. Since then, Microsoft has filed a dispute with the trademark office alleging that the grant was improper.