Google has announced a new initiative today that might, if we're lucky, slowly lead to some meaningful changes in how patent litigation is approached. Or, alternatively, make it easier to highlight the jerks who are ruining it for everyone. The Open Patent Non-Assertion (OPN) Pledge gives would-be inventors a pool of patents that Google promises to never sue anyone over, "unless first attacked." That last part is where eyebrows go up, though.
International trademark, patent, and copyright law is a bit of a legal minefield, and Apple has proven itself to be among the best in navigating it these last few years. But there is one exception to their otherwise impressive track record: the lucrative South American market of Brazil. While Apple iPhones have been sold in the country for years, Apple has never owned the trademark for the name. A regional phone manufacturer, Gradiente Eletronica, registered the trademark for "iphone" way back in 2000.
It's hard to argue that Google hasn't been a significantly different company under Larry Page's leadership. If nothing else, it has certainly become more directly competitive. Mountain View has generally (though not always ) preferred to be passive in its approach to other companies, allowing the product to speak for itself (whether for good or ill), rather than outright antagonize others. Apparently all that reservation was just saving up for when Page would take the helm and let the zingers fly.
I miss you, HTC. My Evo was the first phone I ever truly loved, and between 2007 and 2010, as a company you did remarkably well for yourself. Then the Thunderbolt happened, and then Beats got involved and... Well, let's just say it hasn't been a great couple years. So, when I hear that your CEO, Peter Chou, is planning some bold new changes for 2013, I'm hopeful. Skeptical, but hopeful.
While Google's been working feverishly to build out its Play Store, bringing it to other countries and expanding its offerings, the company's music store has been lacking one crucial feature that its competitors have: library matching. Where Amazon and iTunes can scan your current collection and add the songs to your online storage, Google has, until recently, required users to upload every individual track manually. A long and tedious process. In mid-November, the scan and match feature came out for Europe, and today it arrives for US residents.
It was bound to happen. Really, it was inevitable at this point, however today we've gotten official word that Samsung is requesting to add the newest iPad, the iPad Mini, and the latest iPod Touch to its lawsuit against the Cupertino company. This isn't shocking so much as it is entirely expected. Still, while HTC and Apple are busy settling their differences and the patent wars seemingly cooling off—if only a bit—this is a solid reminder that the two manufacturers with the most to gain (and lose!) from this fight aren't backing away from each other.
It would appear that the patent battle between HTC and Apple, which has been going on since early 2010, is finally closed, with the two companies agreeing to opt for a ten-year licensing agreement.
The dispute began over two years ago when Apple levied a complaint regarding twenty patents at HTC, claiming infringement. Of course after that the two slapped each other with dispute after dispute, and the fight has boiled on ever since.
Google announced in a statement today that Wisconsin Judge Barbara Crabb has dismissed Apple's lawsuit against Motorola Mobility claiming the Google-owned Moto's practices related to standards-essential patent licensing were unfair.
The lawsuit was set to go to trial in US District Court in Madison, Wisconsin this afternoon but was, according to Google, dismissed with prejudice by Judge Crabb this morning. Readers may remember that a similar Apple vs Motorola trial was canceled in Illinois by Judge Richard Posner earlier this year.
Remember when you were in grade school, and your parent or teacher told you to apologize to the other kid? And you'd reply, "I'm sorry that Johnny has a big stupid face and he made me want to punch it"? Apple's been doing the same thing, except in this case the kids are billion-dollar international companies. With big stupid faces.
By now you've probably seen Apple's original apology to Samsung, ordered by the UK court to punish the company's assertion that Samsung wholly copied the iPad design.