back to article Grow up, Google: You're threatening IT growth

Google's stroppy-teenager ethos to intellectual property has been noted here before. But the company's truculent and immature approach is having really serious consequences on its home turf. Google now poses a serious threat to the future of the most explosive new sector in IT hardware: the consumer tablet. And if Google doesn't …


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  1. Richard Gadsden 1

    Google's second innovation: Gmail

    and the AJAX programming model that makes the UI so fluid.

    There's a lot of AJAX out there now, and most of it is copying Gmail.

    1. hexx

      no, not really

      AJAX has been out there for much longer time, you can find more info on wiki

    2. Uffe Seerup

      Google? Invented AJAX?

      Actually, AJAX was invented (the term AJAX was first coined years later) by Microsoft; more specifically the Outlook team.

      The Outlook team were the ones who came up with the XmlHttpRequest which became the kingpin of AJAX. And they did it for the exact reason: To make Outlook web access more fluent and allow javascript to update the DOM asynchronously and without re-requesting the entire page.

      Google is good at copying, though.

      1. ~mico

        Microsoft? Invented?

        Granted, XMLHttpRequest ole object was first accessible through Internet Explorer (the only browser dumb enough to allow websites access to OLE)... But AJAX doesn't have (and never is) just about XMLHTTPRequests. In fact, iframes (or regular frames) were used long before that to allow for the same dynamic functionality, and are used today for things regular AJAX doesn't allow, like file uploads.

        1. Frank 2
          Thumb Up

          you're quite right...

          iFrames were first introduced in Internet Explorer in 1996. In 2006 Microsoft were granted the patent for the basic Ajax technology which they invented.

  2. NoneSuch Silver badge

    Software Patents...

    ...are a solution to a problem that did not exist.

    Software was protected through copyright not patents. If you write a piece of software that is cut and paste from someone else's copyrighted source code then that is wrong and you should get dinged for it. That is already covered under copyright law.

    If you write the code independently and it does the same thing as another company's software then that is fine as proven in the landmark Apple Computer, Inc. v. Microsoft Corporation, 35 F.3d 1435 (9th Cir. 1994) case. "Look and feel" cannot be copyrighted.

    Software patents allow concepts and imagined ideas to be protected and that is quite simply stupid. Stroking a finger across a tablet surface is subject to a patent. The shape of a phone is patented. Even packaging is being claimed as being company protected. This is sheer lunacy and kills innovation. Yet, it is the law in the US and will continue to employ many lawyers as long as the legislation exists.

    1. JimC

      So what innovation

      is really being killed by patents?

      I can see that patents are a block if you like to rip off other people's ideas, but I don't see a sudden halt in innovation actually happening, just a shed load of "waah waah the sky is falling" from people like Google who like benefiting from the creativity of others.

      1. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

        RE: So what innovation is really being killed by patents?

        >> I reckon quite a lot but you don't generally get to hear about most of it.

        The problem now is that patents are largely a tool owned and used by big businesses. They amass **HUGE** quantities of them, and keep patenting every more varied derivations from the same basics - as well as new areas.

        The problems are many fold :

        1) They no longer work as intended. Many patents are so "wooly" as to be virtually useless in actually understanding what's going on - and so society isn't actually benefitting from publication as was intended.

        2) Because of the sheer number and breadth of scope, it is impossible to do a full search and find all patents that may, or may not, apply to your new widget.

        3) Because of 2, it is now almost impossible to make anything that doesn't infringe on someone's patent. Your only way of knowing is to see how many letters arrive accusing you of infringement.

        4) The system is broken. When the letters do arrive, unless you are also a big business, with your own arsenal of patents, then you have just two options - shut up or pay up. In effect, it matters not whether you actually infringe on someone's patent, it will cost more than a small business can afford to go to court and win. If you do win, you will still be out of pocket as you won't get your legal bills paid by the other side - perhaps in part, not in full.

        5) The system is broken. If someone does infringe on your patent, unless you are a big business (note the pattern here ?), then it's unlikely you'll be able to afford to defend it. In effect, a big business can just take your invention, steal it, and screw you in court until you run out of money and fold. It's happened time and time again.

        The original idea behind patents was that in return for publishing details of your invention, and so enriching scientific knowledge in general, you got a limited time in which you could prevent anyone else using it without a licence from you. So if you came up with a great new idea, you could share it (society benefits) and you could also still benefit from it. This was seen as a win-win situation as it genuinely encouraged innovation as you actually had a chance to benefit before others just copied you.

        Now it's stifling innovation. It's a brave inventor that tried to get anywhere now without backing from a big business. If you do come up with something genuinely new then it's expensive to get a patent and even prohibitively expensive to actually use it. Meanwhile, those same big businesses will almost certainly find a patent they can accuse you of infringing, and so can effectively shut you down - even you aren't at fault.

        That brings us to the argument in the article - that Google was stupid not to buy Nortel's patents when it could have done. These days, as explained above, business is done like the cold war - you need to have enough weapons (patents) to shut down the opposition so that they'll be too scared to use their's against you. That was a big problem for Apple when it started making phones - people like Nokia have so many relevant patents that Apple could not avoid infringing on them, and not having anything to fight back with, Nokia (and others) could effectively name their price.

        So the current patent system, especially in the US, is broken. The period of protection is too long. Patents are awarded too easily. It's too costly for small guys to get a patent. It's too costly for a small guy to enforce one. It's too expensive for a small guy to defend against an infringement charge.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: RE: So what innovation is really being killed by patents?

          Many of Qualcomm's important CDMA patents have already run out. It's 20 years from filing.

          Your argument is really for longer patent terms, lower barriers to protection, and fairer enforcement.

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Quite a lot of innovation has been trashed.

          You rarely get to hear about them, because these new ideas usually get squashed like bugs by the patent holders the moment they get to market.

          One specific example I know of is the video-stream and thumbnail parts of the "CITP" protocol, invented independently in Sweden.

          It cannot be used in the USA because a US company patented the entire concept of streaming video and thumbnails in that industry!

          - They weren't granted a patent for 'the way they do it', they were granted it for doing it *at all*.

          These patents fall into those first four points in Simon Hobson's list, as they give no indication whatsoever as to the method of streaming. So one can invent an entirely new and innovative way of streaming video, yet still be prevented from doing it by these patents.

          Point 4) arose when a non-US company tried to sell a product using this new method in the US, and were taken to the cleaners.

          I only know about this because the protocol is being used outside the USA. Switch it for a US-based company doing the inventing, and *splat*.

          Anon for fairly obvious reasons...

          1. ratfox

            What is REALLY the point of patent?

            The point of patents is to encourage innovation. They do that by guaranteeing that those who invented something get rewarded for it. The society profits from the fact that more things get invented.

            But when patents cover things that are so broad and thin that dozens of people work on the same ideas, and one of them patents it and sues everybody else, then patents become a barrier to innovation, because it becomes difficult to create anything without getting sued into oblivion.

            1. Anonymous Coward

              Re: What is REALLY the point of patent?

              "The point of patents is to encourage innovation."

              Not really. You can argue that a broad objective is to make it more likely that people will do stuff because they can get a monopoly in exchange for telling people how they did it, but people will generally do stuff anyway. You can question whether it's fair to grant just one party a monopoly when many people may have done the same stuff independently. That can actually discourage people from doing stuff and telling other people about it.

    2. Iad Uroboros's Nemesis

      "Stroking a finger across a tablet surface is subject to a patent."

      I totally agree. I remember at the time when I read about this case that, if you could patent such crazy things, I was going to take out a patent about how to have a crap...or, you might say, "Big Jobs"...but he would probably sue me for that.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    What Google (and us) need Google to do

    Is forget trying to out patent those twats at MS/Oracle/Apple and whoever else is benefiting from the ludicrous patent system and lobby the governments of the world to overhaul software patents, ban them even.

    Unless that happens we'll get to the point where almost everything is patented or at least no normal companies can respond to challenges, and there'll be a) no innovation and b) product prices will go through the roof because 90% of the cost will be license costs (see MS's $5 per HTC phone for the start of it)


    patent lifetime short - if you've not done anything with your invention within 5 years that's your own bloody fault

    limit sale of patents - you can license of course, but no selling patents - if you didn't invent it then you've no right to call it yours, that should include buying companies purely for patents.

    (Re)define invention - apple really takes the piss here, you all know what I mean.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      A company that I occasionally freelance for building Android apps sticks purely to the European market because they do not want to get involved in all the bull-crap surrounding software patents.

      Granted they're probably losing a huge amount of sales, but I imagine those sales don't come anywhere near the loss caused by a patent lawsuit in the land of opportunity.

      The idea that you can patent "one click purchase" or even the idea of a combo box is ridiculous.

    2. Turtle

      In your little dream world. . .

      "(Google needs to) forget trying to out patent those twats at MS/Oracle/Apple and whoever else is benefiting from the ludicrous patent system and lobby the governments of the world to overhaul software patents, ban them even."

      Evidently you either...

      1) Do not realize that Google's whole empire is built on a single patent (the PageRank patent), or

      2) Think that Google needs to conform to your view of what the world should be, and destroy their multi-billion-dollar-a-year business for the sake of your worldview.

      3) Both of the above.


    3. Anonymous Coward

      You're the one taking the p*ss

      "(Re)define invention - apple really takes the piss here, you all know what I mean."

      I think it's you who is taking the piss and trying to redefine invention


      - Multitouch

      - iPod UI

      - Apple make they make their own chips too

      and over in the Linux world?

      er....... Unity?

      The patent system is BROKEN, but parasitic 'tards are the last people who can fix it, they prove every time they don't value innovation.

      1. Levente Szileszky

        RE: You're the one taking the p*ss

        Nope, it's actually you, clueless Anonymous Coward - nothing on your list was invented by Apple.

        Get a clue, "'tard".

      2. M Gale


        "Multi-touch technology began in 1982, when the University of Toronto's Input Research Group developed the first human-input multi-touch system."


        Apple were the first to put it on a phone, that's all.

        As for the iPod UI, are you seriously suggesting that Apple invented the concept of a grid of icons? Really?

        And over in the Linux world, how about Linux itself? Or hell, if buying patents counts as "innovation" these days, how about this:

        Coo, look, a shitload of patents.

    4. Frank 2

      Google are anti-competitive

      Microsoft and Apple are engineering companies and they need each other - Microsoft need Apple to keep the monopolies commission at bay and Apple need Microsoft to provide MS Office on iOS and to make them look 'cool' in comparison. Apple and Microsoft have lots of patents because they have created lots and lots of new technologies over the years.

      Google are an advertising company and their sole aim is to get as many people onto their systems as possible. Unfortunately due to their dominance in the advertising market they have crap loads of money which enables them to force their way into any market they want by trampling over the opposition. The only anti-competitive behaviour going on at the moment is being done by Google. Of course they want to get rid of software patents because without them they would be able to take over the world without giving anyone a dime.

    5. Bronek Kozicki

      RE: What Google (and us) need Google to do

      >> lobby the governments of the world to overhaul software patents, ban them even.

      one government is enough - US. Software patents are not valid elsewhere anyway.

      If I were to write and then sell some (even moderately) smart algorithm, the license would explicitly prohibit the licensee from using or distributing the code in the US. I don't want some twats suing the socks off me because of imagined similarity with things already patented there. And even if I was feeling brave, I don't have the time or resources to do research this jungle which US lawyers call intelectual property protection laws.

  4. James Hughes 1

    Not convinced

    I'm with Google on the patent thing - they think it sucks, and really don't want to spend $4BILLION on a portfolio. Why would they. That's a lot of cash.

    I can't figure out though why they are not putting more effort in to protecting Android customers. Or maybe they are behind the scenes. Who knows.

    But Google being the death of growth? Maybe a tad hysterical. Patents are the death of growth. Not Google.

    1. Dr. Mouse

      Not so

      "Patents are the death of growth. Not Google."


      Patents, when the system works as it was originally designed, promote growth and innovation.

      The current patent system is the death of innovation. As pointed out in the article, it is failing. Patents are being actively used by large corporations to stifle innovation. This is the system's fault, and is not in keeping with the original purpose of patents. This was to get those who innovate and invent to publish what they have done while providing them protection from those who would copy their ideas.

    2. hexx


      did they bid 4B then if they didn't want to spend that much?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why would they?

      Because they have a mountain of cash and this is a game they could win by spending on patents, lawyers and lobbying. You don't have to believe software patents are a good thing to use them as a weapon. It's like paying for missiles in the Cold War: you know they have worked if you don't have to launch them.

    4. Gordon 10

      They don't think it sucks

      Ifs worse than that. They have no belief in any kind of IP protection whether it's patents, copyright or dome other form.

      As long as it's not their own IP they will plunder anyone else's they can get away with. And make a profit from it.

      Look at google books for another prime example. The fact that many of the works they were copying was conveniently ignored, until they were forced to deal with it.

      They act just like spoilt rich brats who think their money let's them do anything - far more so than most other corporates.

    5. Captain DaFt


      You mean like codename "Sagan", "Butt Head astronomer", "Lawyers Are Wimps"?

      (Scroll down to number two)

      Childishness seems to run in the industry. I'm surprised there's never been a codename "Nyahh-Nyahh"! (And someone will probably point out there was one.)

    6. Turtle

      Because. . .

      "I'm with Google on the patent thing - they think it sucks, and really don't want to spend $4BILLION on a portfolio. Why would they."

      Because, irrespective of what they think about other people's patents, *that* is the world in which they live and operate, and continuing to simply continue operating as if other people's patents have no validity or legal force is a *very poor business strategy* - and not merely for them, but for their partners too.

      As an aside, Brin's suggestion that Robert Levine give away his book instead of selling it shows just how out-of-touch with reality these despicable people are. He and his clique have personally earned billions of dollars in as parasitic fashion as possible - running ads against other people's content, (not to mention their aiding and abetting IP and content theft) - and he now seems to think that Levine (and everyone else) should be willing to work for free, and be satisfied to know that his work is only worth a pittance that will be captured by Google.

  5. Justin Clements
    Thumb Up

    Superb Article

    >>Actually, it is worse than that. Google treated building up a defensive patent arsenal as a joke. When Nortel's patents came up for auction recently, Google made a succession of bids that were mathematical in-jokes – culminating in a bid of $3.14159 bn.

    >>This must have been hilarious at school, but treating it as a Montessori class isn't appropriate when an IT sector hinges on a Google taking its responsibilities seriously.

    Absolutely spot on. A bit like naming the next Android "Ice Cream Sandwich" or whatever it is, is bordering on childish.

    1. maarten


      I fail to see how google's version naming is childish but naming your version after big cat isn't. Not to mention ms naming it mango or nodo which was a stab at a compeditor. At least google's naming has some logic with the alphabetical versions

    2. M Gale

      As opposed to Mango?

      Or perhaps naming all of your major revisions after cats.

    3. David 164

      How is that childish.

      How is that more childish than calling it say Mango, just like Microsoft is calling there next update. It does not matter what one calls a project after all. It the same that it does not really matter what you bid in a auction as long as the bid is higher than the person you are bidding against.

    4. eulampios

      nomina sunt odiosa

      yeah, naming your OS so that you can say "asta la Vista, baby" when you are getting its crap out of the harddrive is much more clever!

  6. Earl Jones Of Potatoes

    advertising vs Tech field

    I tend to agree with most of what was presented. I think that google is very much like an opportunist wealthy spoiled kid playing in a field he doesn't belong.

    Android is better off without google. I can even dare and say that Apple would help more android than google had.

    After all, it is because of iOS that Android has flourished

    One must not forget that google is an advertising company by revenue.

    1. Armando 123

      Something in what you say

      Apple has been, by and large, a good company wrt open source software. Not perfect, of course, but no one is.

      They've done a lot with/for CUPS/zeroconf, the webkit engine, gcc and g++, and other OSS projects. They've also supported those who've been under legal attack for using Apple's software and services, when the attackee has done so in agreement with Apple's licenses.

      Again, they haven't been 100% accurate in this ... no organization that's done as much as they have could be ... but if I were starting a company or a project today, I'd much prefer to work with Apple than Google. Heck, lately even MS has shown it's better at backing up its business partners than Google is. And let's let that sentence sink in for a moment.

      1. vic 4

        a good company wrt open source software

        Beacuse it benefits them, yes they are embracing OS it the way it should be, but please don't make it seem like they are doing it as a favour to the industry. If they where why not make their whole development tool suite open source and let people develop for iOS on say linux or even windows?

        1. DZ-Jay


          Why is pointing out a company's actions taken as a blind promotion of altruism? Are you insinuating that the poster or the readers in this forum are stupid? That they do not know that corporations follow their own best interests?

          In spite of your strawman argument, the point is valid: With the full tacit understanding that corporations follow their own goals, for profit, would you rather do business with one whose goals are aligned with yours and their customers, or one whose goals seem orthogonal to the rest of the industry in which they are attempting to play?

          That's the point. It is not whether people imagine Apple to be the messiah, doing the good for mankind; but that Apple's actions seem to imply that their very core values and profit-seeking goals, coincide for the most part with the expectations and purposes of its clients and business partners. In contrast to Google's who seem to be irresponsibly playing a game.


          1. vic 4

            Idoit returns

            > Why is pointing out a company's actions taken as a blind promotion of altruism?

            I read the comment as the op using the fact that Apple contribute a lot to OS to support their belief that Apple would be a better company to do business with. I was trying to point out that the fact that they do this is irrelevant and adds nothing to support that point. If it wasn't mentioned for that reason why mention it?

            My business involves relying on both Apple and Google, for me neither really fit it with the way I like to work and operate but life as it is all about compromises. I have dislike for both companies at a philosophical level but that has nothing to do with day to day business. Out of the two Apple causes me more a lot more grief than Google, but that's my circumstances.

            1. DZ-Jay

              @vic 4

              >> I was trying to point out that the fact that they do this is irrelevant and adds nothing to support that point. If it wasn't mentioned for that reason why mention it?

              I'd say that it is relevant. It shows a pattern of willingness to share and promote common solutions.

              You countered this by saying that they do not do it out of the goodness of their heart, which is true, but irrelevant. The fact that their core business interests--selfish and greedy as they may be--directs them to such actions, suggests that as long as their interests continue in such directions everybody who participates in those solutions will benefit.

              More to the point, Apple is absolutely *transparent* and predictable in such behaviour: they never claim they are open-source hippies or working purely for the benefit of mankind. They will hide and horde some of their technologies as well as sharing openly others, all in for their own interests.

              As long as these interests align with their customers or partners, everybody benefits; and there is no need to assume or expect any altruism in that.


            2. Armando 123

              That was kind of my point

              I don't consider any company ideal, really, just as no person is. However, Apple seems to have been better as a business partner, at least in backing their business partners in lawsuits, and have done a pretty decent job working with the OSS community. Choosing one or the other, I'd probably go with Apple because of this and some other factors as well, though of course YMMV.

              Look, I'm the father of two boys who are nearly teens. Trust me, I see a good bit of googlish behavior in them ALREADY. I get enough of that at home that I don't need more of it in the office.

  7. g e

    Which all assumes

    that you know Google's strategy/gameplan.

    And also that Google don't know something you don't.

    I'd be very surprised if it turned out that Google really hadn't a clue what they were doing with all this. My personal opinion is that co's like Apple are looking at the next payday with greed and maintaining immediate market position as a priority where Google are playing the long game and have already looked 3 moves and 4 patent layers deeper.

    1. Gordon 10

      Keep dreaming

      Google have been around for 15 years now and have failed to achieve revenue from anything other than their advertising brokerage.

      By this evidence they will be long gone before they come up with any "long game".

    2. Frank 2

      What are you on about?!

      Do you have anything to back that up? Anything at all?

  8. Alan Denman

    Google = Linux

    Microsoft killed off Linux Netbook with its starter deals and support .

    Android has only successful because Apple rips off the customer and Microsoft stuck had its business model stuck up its arse.

    IOS looked very pale with its software limitations. Phones evolves yet Apple has now seemingly chosen the dinosaur route.

    This is the very first Linux derivative to take off big and Apple knows its in danger of becoming the also ran.

    1. SuccessCase


      Granted MS didn't help the Linux Netbook and I would have loved it to succeed. However they can't be accused of being the main reason it died. The Linux Netbook simply wasn't attractive enough to the average user. Almost everything that makes Linux attractive and great is in a "layer" that means sweet FA to the average user. It's easy for us techies to fail to see this. But if you extract yourself. From you detailed appreciation of the value of the command line and scriptable everythingness, the simple elegance of the user directory security model and the love of the comprehensively keyboard shortcuttable GUI you will see none of this huge advantages register with the average user. The only average Jo advantages I can think of are - in order of importance - 1. virus free, 2. Low cost

      Unfortunately, as tempting as it is to see low cost as a big advantage, any marketeer will be able to tell you, though it's an important factor, it's easy to rate too highly. Virus free, unfortunately, it seems, doesn't outrank known, (perversely) trusted, more capable (before shouting "CRAP" remember this is from a non-techie perspective. - compare office to open office) and "compatible with existing investment."

      Habit also plays a huge part. So as much as I would love to agree with you, but I can't.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Alan Denman

      Tinfoil hat conspiracies again!

      Manufacturers wanted Linux on netbooks because it gave them higher margins. But the punters wanted Windows. M$ met them halfway with a crippled Win7.

      When you see who uses a netbook in the real world you will understand. Linux is for the tech elite, not NetMums or middle management.

      When will you realise that nobody bloody wants an OS that doesn't run M$ Office and has no USP.

    3. Armando 123

      Can't really agree

      I wouldn't say Apple rips off its customers. It provides hardware/software/solutions to people who, if they don't want them, can go elsewhere. If people aren't satisfied with Apple's customer service, they can go elsewhere. If people find someone offering something better, they can go elsewhere.

      Now, you might think Apple is ripping people off, and for all I know they are, but their customers don't seem to agree and that group has been growing fairly steadily for the past ten years.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    The USA is shooting itself in the foot

    "Unless that happens we'll get to the point where almost everything is patented or at least no normal companies can respond to challenges, and there'll be a) no innovation and b) product prices will go through the roof"

    No, what will happen is that innovation will shift away from the US, and the US will become a consumer nation, no longer a technology leader. It may already be too late to stop that happening, driven by factors other than patents. How much of Apple's revenue goes into the pockets of non-US chip-makers and assembly houses? :(

  10. Tom 7

    Good advertising and having a cult following

    is not innovation.

    What we need Google to do is to carry on so we can use their search engine to find the prior art that exists to every software patent ever applied for.

    Here's one that just turned up from Sun - before Oracle tried to kill Android:

    "GNU/Linux distributors can add no-cost Java implementations to their distributions, while customers with stringent open-source requirements can deploy a free, reliable Java software stack on most GNU/Linux distributions."

    Software patents make sense only to those who cant understand 40 year old books on software.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Good advertising and a cult like following... You're talking about App... err... Goo... No, I give up, it could be either of them.

    2. vic 4

      Android is not a java implemention

      they merely allow you to develop for android using the java language

  11. lurker

    "Apple created a Market"

    You state that Apple created a market. But a market implies competition.

    And competition is something which Apple patently does not want to have to deal with.

    As someone who remembers when Google was just the hot, technically efficient alternative to junk search engines ("portals") like yahoo and hotbot, I don't necessarily trust what they've become. But they still don't compare to the industry-throttling, competition-stifling juggernaut which Apple has morphed into lately.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I'd go further... I'd say that Apple didn't create the market, that may well have been MS, Apple just exploited the market at the right time. MS didn't have suitably small hardware available to them when they were starting on tablets, Apple realised that you can chop down the hardware and OS spec, so it's not a full desktop, then sell it at full desktop prices.

      I also think that Google have just as cultish following as Apple, just a lot of their followers don't realise it. All the Apple fanboys I know freely say that they love Apple's stuff, most of the Google fanboys have a Samsung phone, or use non-specifically Google branded Google services.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I am sorry but you don't need competition to create a market. All you need is a product or service to sell - whether anyone else can or will compete is irrelevant (unless you mean a "free market" which is something different).

  12. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Conspiracy much?

    "So Google sponsors front groups, think tanks, academic's legal departments, all waging the fight against copyright and patents."

    Oh noes! Koch-brother-style astroturfing! What if they convince us? WHAT IF THEY ARE RIGHT!

    "Why don't you give your book away for free?"

    Wrong question.

    The correct one is: what will keep me from grabbing your book for free?

    What will keep me from doing that is: 1) Can buy at amazon in two clicks 2) If I'm interested I consider shelling out the correct thing to do.

    Not 2) is not your market anyway.

    State-Guaranteed IP protection stopping me from doing so? Not so much.

    1. Blarkon

      Nothing will

      Nothing will stop you from grabbing the book for free. But in the long run people who write books will go and do something else that actually provides some sort of monetary reward for effort. Which is fine if you don't think books serve any useful purpose to society.

      The soviet system collapsed because people weren't paid competitive wages (though they were at least getting paid, so they bothered turning up to work). What do you think will happen to all those industries where you can just go and take the product without paying for it?

      That's right. Gone.

      We don't have to worry about the Book Burners from Farenheit 451 killing off the book - we've got the Freetards instead.

  13. Paul Shirley


    Bidding with (approximations of) irrational numbers seems a very pertinent comment on an irrational system.

    While the rest of the world pays at least lip service to the concept of patents serving *the public interest*, America has resurrected their original use as gifts from royalty to cronies. With all levels of government infested by lawyers there's little chance the pigs will give up the patent trough without being pushed. A company too big to fail, failing is about all that's left to try.

  14. heyrick Silver badge

    Is it Google's fault?

    Yes, Google is childish. However if I was a company considering making tablets, I would be less concerned about whatever weird name the next Android will have, and a lot more concerned regarding what Apple has done to Samsung. My enemy, so to speak, would not be Google, it would be my competitor who has a powerful axe to swing. Once upon a time we might have slammed Apple for anti-competitive practice, but these days "patents" are wielded for all manner of evil.

    There is only two ways this can work. One, massive overhaul of patents, but I won't hold my breath.

    Two, and this might work, both the Samsung *AND* the Apple tablets are barred from sale until the dispute has been resolved (while this might seem unfair to Apple, it might make the aggressor consider the viability of their case a little more carefully - the patent system is being horribly abused).

    1. Ilgaz

      I will say something

      I agree the patent system is very stupid and old fashioned. I also agree Apple should not be monopoly in any kind of segment with their current thinking.

      The issue I can't stand not saying is, I haven't seen a Samsung Tablet, from my angle of view, I have mistaken the freaking thing with Apple iPad. Call me Apple fanboy or blind, I could never imagine a Samsung sized company blatantly copy an Apple device down to some icons.

      1. M Gale

        7" Tab owner here

        And previous owner of a Commtiva N700 that developed an annoying charging issue. Both tablets were rounded rectangles. Asides that though, I don't see the similarity. Unless you mean "has icons you can tap on", of course. I think Apple think that they invented the idea of a touchable toy computer, and it's a shame that some EU court has agreed with them.

        That said, I also have widgets I can look at, alternative launchers I can play with, tethering I can use for free and various other tricks that the iPad simply isn't capable of or won't be capable of by design. I also get to see if that "free" Flashlight app also wants access to my contacts, or be able to send/receive SMS messages, make phone calls and home in on my location via GPS, before I make the mistake of installing it.

        Oh yes, I can also run Flash pages, though that's really a mixed blessing.

        But hey, it's a rounded rectangle with a screen on, so I can see how you would get confused.

        1. Ilgaz

          I should have been more clear

          Samsung's tablet got me confused because of "look and feel" of it and perhaps the way it was advertised.

          Look to Nokia for example, they always have a unique feel/display and they just had to use "black" screen because of the AMOLED tech they use loves dark backgrounds.

          Samsung really should start acting like Sony, a large, huge company which every product resembles a unified look and feel. I am not saying they should be like Apple, remember good old Sony?

          They do great stuff but they always have a "Chinese OEM" feeling in them. They got in trouble for icons this time, default icons on their tablet and I heard they aren't even default Android icons.

  15. AdamWill


    Note that the injunction against Samsung has nothing to do with Android or Google at all. it's based on an EU registered community design - effectively an EU design patent - for the *hardware*. The RCD in question shows a very generic tablet (not an iPad, note - the iPad RCDs are different) with no running software.

    The RCD process is an incredibly bad one, more flawed even than the U.S. patent process; see . Gaining an injunction under the system is absolutely not an indication of any kind of valid infringement case; you can have an RCD and a consequent injunction granted with no review of the RCD in question for novelty or significance whatsoever. This is how the process is designed. RCDs are granted on spec, with no validity review.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    in a land far away...

    called USA there is a system of patent rulings that grants lawers lots of joy and income...the ip patent issue is an American issue. the author's comment relating to the recent banning of the Samsung Galaxy Tab by a German judge does not apply here. It got banned because of infringement of a "Geschmacksmuster" filed by Apple. such a filing is almost always accepted and valid until a judge actually checks its legitimacy, it extends to the appearence and "uniqueness"...and if you read apple's filing it looks very unlikely that Apple will be granted a "Geschmacksmuster" for "rectangle shape with rounded corners, thin, metal framing and an almost all screen front showing icons".

    the second point the author does seem to share common (especially among fincial analysts) misunderstanding of Google being "a one trick pony" is not at all. Google has many assets that let users pay with one currency: data that can be used to create valuable profiles. they are global market leader in aggregation, analyzing and computing user profiles. this asset is currently monetized by offering the best ad network. and they a supreme in the tool chain that is required to do this. the main reason why do advertising is because of the natural monopoly nature (and of course huge profits) of this business...the more data you have the better your profiles get the better your ad network gets...the more clients you get the more users are exposed to your ad network the more data you get the idea :-)

    ...and thats the huge threat google imposes to the net...not in some future, right now! why? because competitors are not able to monetize their products without can you offer a better gmail for the same price (=free) if you can not use adwords/adsense/doubleclick to get money? you either use a competitor's ad net (microsoft) which is much worse and you are not getting even close to the potential actual value of "your users ad value"...or go the paid service route and thereby entering a different market ("users willing to pay dollars instead of personal data" = totally differwent audience)...even if you use adwords/adsense you are then depending on Google, who will take a share of your (ad) revenue...and your data...further adding to their valuable escape, you loose...looking at you facebook ;-)

    because of this very nature of their business Google sees ip as annoying obstacles to get even more data. it limits their expansion into more tech fields and consumer markets...and they dont like to be slowed down...a reason why no other company would be capable at the moment to pull a stunt like Android...4 years from mere beta to technological leadership among mobile OS...and market share leadership...globally. this speed of innovation is what makes it so attractive for OEMs, because if you are not Apple (masters of magic) "new cool features" is currently all marketing ammunition you get to penetrate fast evolving markets...thus without Google's speed, Android is dead.

  17. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    It's not over until the fat lady sings

    Given the nature of the injunctions taken out then Google was right not to indemnify Android. Samsung and Motorola will appeal and what will happen if they win? A bit of an oversight in your article to gloss over the current legal process and the possible outcomes. Also a bit unfair to lump Android in with the Youtube, Google Books copyright approach. I think they are very different beasts.

    Incidentally I saw a 10.1 Tab in a store in Germany today with nobody attempting to stop it being sold. It looked nice and is definitely lighter than an Ipad. To me the injunctions look like a rearguard action by Apple who must be worried about not getting preferential treatment on the next hardware goody be it screen or multicore chip or whatever.

  18. Levente Szileszky

    The biggest copycat on this planet is...

    ...Apple, remember. Apple has never invented a SINGLE THING. Nothing, nada, nil.

    1. Ilgaz

      They invented couple of things

      Like, personal home computer which can be used by general public. Just owning a TV set was enough. Not IBM, Apple invented home computer and while real dream team/combination was there (SJobs AND Woz), they really made a good entry to business market. They had 50% market and it was really healthy competition out there. It was good for everyone, even for MS and Intel.

      You should really read some Apple/IT history, before iPod/iMac.

      1. DR

        it's funny that you think that Apple invented the first home computer

        Since IBM had a home/consumer PC out before apple was even formed as a company.

        IBM definitly had the first consumer PC, a couple of years before apple did.

        So care to mention anything that apple did invent?

        And whilst apple did invent the first GUI, that was only the first gui on a home PC, they ripped the GUI idea off from Xerox.

        Apple are just as good at stealing ideas as any other company.

        Just because you don't know any better doesn't make it not true.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Hmmm... call me blonde if you want, but I thought this particular problem is due to the SHAPE of the tablets. Apparently Apple patented the shape and now any tablet in the world is a target.

    Why we have such an idiotic patent system beats me. In theory it's there to protect the inventors from big corporations, but since it's obviously not serving its purpose, maybe it's time to get rid of it.

  20. Ilgaz

    Author should tell Brin

    I didn't like the tone of his reply and needless explaining. He should have said "I am an author and this is what I do for living so I have all rights to ask for money in return."

    Perhaps he should ship for free with Google ads spying how much time poor ignorant free reader spends on each page eh? Add couple of spyware ads targeted to computer novices, that will fit.

  21. Jorge Lopez

    Two things

    STOP! Apple has a killer app. It's called the APP. The fact that Apple provided a platform and storefront for Apps is huge. Before then, no one thought of this idea. I should know. I have had a handheld since post-newton. Did you ever get an app from online? The experience was horrid. Not to mention you paid 20-50 bucks for simple apps. IM apps, photo apps, etc.

    Apple also created the concept of multitouch. They pushed a new type of touch interface. That in itself was a killer app.

    So why do you think Apple needs to be dethroned. Unlike the competition they did not follow the trend but they created it. So why is it you think its a bad thing that Google, which seems to follow the model of Windows CE, needs to do something? They don't GET IT. Do you want to go back to the days of the Moto Q and the Compaq iPaq? Do you want to buy a device like the Dell Axim and find out a year later it was discontinued? Never getting updates for it. Its bad enough Samsung drags its feet updating their Galaxy phones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's quite simple, really

      These are the kinds of people who will never support Apple, therefore, if a competitor gets into a fight with Apple, it follows that this company is correct in whatever it is doing.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Apple invented multitouch?

      >> "Apple also created the concept of multitouch. They pushed a new type of touch interface. "

      No. Apple BOUGHT the company that patented certain multi-touch actions, particularly on a mobile screen. If that's innovation, I'm innovative everytime I go to the supermarket.

    3. Levente Szileszky

      RE: Two things

      ...and you are totally wrong on both counts - let me guess: another "well-informed" Apple user...?

      FYI first application store *I* have used around 2002-2003 was either Handango or PocketGear, both opened circa 1999 - you know, back when Apple was struggling to get its new OSX out of beta status (didn't happen until Panther) and had nothing to do with mobile things.

      Of course, a simple Google search would tell you that mutlitouch is available since late 70s, with absolutely no link to Apple.

      The fact that you, just like most Apple users, have very limited knowledge on the topic does not mean you have to jump in and post utter BS without checking your facts first....

    4. AdamWill


      "The fact that Apple provided a platform and storefront for Apps is huge. Before then, no one thought of this idea. I should know."

      Clearly, you never ran any Linux distribution. We've had centralized package management, complete with simple front ends, for...must be going on decades by now.

      1. M Gale

        Re: Clearly...

        Careful. That sounds dangerously like innovation, and you know the freetards have never invented anything, right?

  22. dagger


    "Microsoft doesn't have an offering, HP and RIM won't license their own, and Linux is not quite as mature or polished as device manufacturers want it to be"

    Linux is not an operating system. It's KERNEL and both HP and RIM (among others) are using it. Author should read a bit more before writing BS like this.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      "Linux is not an operating system"

      You said it.

    2. Bronek Kozicki

      RIM ?

      If you meant the playbook, it's not using Linux kernel. It's QNX which RIM bought some years ago. Here is nice schema for you . WebOS is indeed based on Linux, more here

    3. Ilgaz

      RIM is QNX

      RIM uses QNX which is actually a realtime operating system, more like VxWorks. In theory, it should use a fraction of battery life and CPU and should be unbeliavably stable, speaking about months of uptime without kernel originated leak.

      As a Symbian owner, I learned the specs/kernel doesn't mean anything under bad management so I am just telling what QNX is, in theory. Very Elop like signals coming from RIM lately so I can't really be sure.

  23. Tim Almond

    Tablet Market

    Tablets are mostly useless. If they'd been useful then companies like HP would have sold a lot more of the Microsoft tablets in the early part of the decade.

    This is the key thing that everyone misses about the iPad and the tablet market. People aren't buying an iPad because it yields the most utilitarian value, they're conspicuously consuming. You get that status from owning an iPad. All other tablets are unknown to most people, so no other tablet gives you status.

    Now, there are uses for an iPad, but the value is pretty small. So, to compete, you wouldn't have to make a £400 or even £300 tablet. You'd have to sell something for less the same price as an iPod Touch (about £200).

    But this is also why no-one should be fearful of Apple's monopoly on this market: tablets aren't going to take over the world anyway.

    1. Bronek Kozicki

      "mostly useless"

      ... but they are not so far from being useful, and in some applications are actually useful right now. I would gladly swap my kindle for a tablet if one with *good reflective screen" was on offer. Just one missing piece of hardware away, really.

      But I digress; in general you are right, it is mostly "look at me" factor which sells IPads. Competitors would have to be much cheaper to beat it.

    2. Armando 123

      One other key

      The iPad is dead simple to use. I know someone who gets confused by mouse and keyboard. No sh*t, this person is an adult, chronologically, and is so far from ept that his user skills on a computer would cause jaw-dropping amongst ElReg readers. But he has no problem using an iPad.

      It may be dumbed down, but sometimes what you're doing would work fine on a dumbed down interface.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE:Tablet Market

      "Tablets are mostly useless. If they'd been useful then companies like HP would have sold a lot more of the Microsoft tablets in the early part of the decade."

      They were useless in the early part of the decade because, well, they were useless.

      They were originally built on the ultra-small form factor notebook, which was expensive to begin with. Add a touch screen, and the price was obscene. Battery life was dismal, so it wasn't much use as a portable device unless you carried around a bunch of spare batteries. Mediocre handwriting recognition, stylus input... really made it inconvenient to use as a tablet. Especially without *apps* that were specifically made for use in *tablet* mode, that was probably the biggest downfall.

  24. mantrik00
    Thumb Down

    So even if Apple is acting like the demonic giant Google is to blame

    So, even if an overzealous Apple patents and registers obvious designs or designs that have been in existence or demonstrated much earlier by taking advantage of broken intellectual property regimes and uses them to block competitors, the media will apply some convoluted logic to blame Google. But, I can understand it. The media which has been feeding on Apple's humongous advertising and PR budgets can of course find it difficult to find fault with Apple's business practices. Just for the record Apple spent $691 million in 2010 on advertising & PR.

  25. hyartep

    google maturity

    and now, as you can see, google is more mature than you would dare to think (as it acquired motorola today).

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    "a PlayMobil version of Mac OS X"

    oh yes

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