Google’s Tim Porter discusses problems with patent law, accuses Microsoft of IP thuggery

Google’s Tim Porter discusses problems with patent law, accuses Microsoft of IP thuggery
Tim Porter, Google’s chief patent counsel, recently dished on how the company views patent law in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. Porter challenged the notion that the current state of patent lawsuits is inevitable, describing it competitors taking advantage of a broken system when they fail to compete in the open market.

Not surprisingly, Porter’s harshest words were reserved for Microsoft, who has managed to extract patent settlements from more than half of all Android manufacturers to date. He pointed to Microsoft’s lawsuits targeting the Linux ecosystem, suggesting that this is part of a historical pattern where Microsoft turns to litigation “When their products stop succeeding in the marketplace, when they get marginalized, as is happening now with Android, they use the large patent portfolio they've built up to get revenue from the success of other companies' products.”

Porter says the greatest concern  is that the current legal climate may lead to a dramatic reduction in innovation across the board, as companies spend more and more resources to try and defend existing products rather than investing in new ones. On that basis he advocates a strong overhaul to the current software patent system, asking for a return to “common sense” in the patent office, including a greater emphasis on not providing overly broad software patents for “something that’s really an idea”.

The interview also provided confirmation that an earlier transfer of patents from Google to HTC (which HTC then used to counter-sue Apple with) was part of Google’s strategy to “aggressively defend the Android ecosystem”.

source: SF Gate via electronista

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20 Comments

1. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

It would take a 3rd party without a horse in the race of any kind to return the patent system to "common sense". Mobile tech surely needs it. Tired of court cases leading Phone Arena news as much as new cell phone news. And I can forgive Mr. Porter for being bitter at Microsoft. In it's history, MS has been a big bully and a cut throat pirate all in the name of pushing their brand. Microsoft of late, however, has been a company willing to sit down and work out licensing fees without dragging other companies to court, so they should at least get a couple of brownie points for that. I am glad it seems they fell on their faces trying to ban some minor Motorola devices earlier in the year, but other than that MS is just trying to live down it's rep from a torrid past.

2. JGuinan007

Posts: 699; Member since: May 19, 2011

The whole software patent system is outdate and in serious need of repair. Who do you talk to or write to in the GOV to get it fixed?

5. jabrecer

Posts: 26; Member since: Jul 26, 2011

Please, taco... if you have any personal feelings against PA, contact'em directly... I don't like it at all reading time after time comments like this one. I come here to learn what's new in the mobile industry, not to learn how you feel, hehe thank you.

12. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

I'm talking about the posters not PA

16. denney

Posts: 98; Member since: Oct 20, 2011

If you sell pies and you stole my recipe, would you be more upset if I asked for a cut of the profits or if I tried to make it so you couldn't ever sell pies again?

10. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Actually MOST- and there are exceptions- most posters on here are very consistent. You, my dear friend Taco, for example believe Apple is as pure as the driven snow, and most of your posts are consistent on that. However, I think those that say they hate Apple's business practices but respect their products and what they have meant to the mobile industries stick to their guns for the most part. As for me, I can say I agree with Apples right to go to court if they so desire to. If they feel certain products are stealing from them, than go prove it and hold them accountable. It is the banning of devices, especially when major infractions have not been proven that I disagree with. At some point, there has to be an end to this . Court cases have gone both ways. So, it is pretty clear nobody is infringing enough to win outright, but nobody is completely innocent either. Isn't everyone done beating their head against the wall, yet?

11. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

What I'm saying is that other companies such as Microsoft and Motorola are doing the same thing by suing, but not getting bashed.

20. iamcc

Posts: 1319; Member since: Oct 07, 2011

How many times do I have to say this... Apple is suing to BAN PRODUCTS. Other companies use the threat of banning products to COLLECT ROYALTIES. Are you really that stupid taco? C'mon dude. Some of your posts actually make sense. There is a huge difference in the way that Apple "protects" their patents from the way other companies do. Admit it.

14. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 2011

I think Taco's views have merit. I started correcting android fanboys misstatements of facts, and two active posters retaliated with nothing but flames. It turns out one was an unctuous cellphone sales clerk (probably living paycheck to paycheck) with an agenda against apple because he was conflicted and made more sales commissions from android devices. The other vocal person clearly has histrionic personality disorder. This point of android fanboys who happen to be sales clerks trolling websites or spending huge amounts of time on these site speak to their acts of self preservation as opposed to the merits of the patent system. These are desperate sales clerks who depend on new android devices knowing every sale of an iphone is a huge opportunity cost. It's so obvious when these people are unable to debate the merits of the issue, they bring out the fact iphone sales is costing them sales commissions.

15. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Direct sales reps make the same commission of iPhone's. It's only indirect that apparently make less. So these guys aren't even good enough at what they do to land a corporate sales job.

4. The_Miz

Posts: 1496; Member since: Apr 06, 2011

Normally I wouldn't care since Android does steal ideas but Microsoft acts like a monopoly and acts through extortion instead of innovation.

7. theBankRobber

Posts: 682; Member since: Sep 22, 2011

I have still yet to hear any of the ideas that are stolen for android. Please can u name a few because all I here is android is a copy of ios but everyone fails to provide proff. What features, looks, and how the whole open sorce os of android is a copy? I'll sit back and wait for your response, or ANYBODY who can provide proff.

18. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

Multi touch gestures such as pinch to zoom and swiping photos and swipe to unlock Kinetic scrolling Double tap to zoome in App store Icon layout two-line preview of emails in the Gmail app (found in Apple's iPhone email program since 2007), or the "quick response" buttons at the bottom of the email app (almost Tablets - android had none before the iPad

19. ardent1

Posts: 2000; Member since: Apr 16, 2011

Ease of use. It's so obvious android tries to copy Apple's emphasis of ease of use. For example, a three-year-old can operate the ipad.

6. Penny

Posts: 1847; Member since: Feb 04, 2011

I agree that the patent system is broken, and I think it mostly has to do with lack of definition around what ideas can reasonably be issued a patent. Issue a patent for anything, and you end up with the situation we have today. However, this statement from Tim Porter seems like complete posturing: "...they use the large patent portfolio they've built up to get revenue from the success of other companies' products.” Conversely, Microsoft could argue that Google uses a large number of innovations from other companies to get success. That's not to say that Google is in fact using all these innovations that don't belong to them, it is just to point out that if the issued patents are valid, and if Google utilized the innovations on which these patents are based, then Microsoft has no obligation to allow Google to freely get success off of Microsoft's innovations. And no, I do not think the same can be said of Apple. As far as we are aware from courtroom proceedings and leaks, Apple has been enforcing many patents that appear to have little reason to be considered valid patents at all.

9. Rikkirik

Posts: 7; Member since: Nov 07, 2011

What a hypocritical view of mr. Porter. Porter says the greatest concern is that the current legal climate may lead to a dramatic reduction in innovation across the board, as companies spend more and more resources to try and defend existing products rather than investing in new ones. First of all if Google had really innovated, then their partners (Samsung, HTC, LG Ericson, Amazon etc) would not be in this litigiation mess surrounding Android. Second of all, all of Googles partners could be innovative if Google really had been innovative. Third, Google is screeming the hardest to cover up the fact that it used technology from other technology firms (look at the court case of Oracle against Google where email provided by Google itself proved that Google wilfully violated the patents of Sun microsystems, which has been acquired by Oracle). Google knew this and that's why Google gave away Android for free, putting the risks of litigation in the lap of their partners. What a hypocrit of a company. Most importantly, the cross licensing agreement that Microsoft has made with all of these companies (HTC, Samsung, Amazon etc) prove above all else that the Microsoft patents are being violated by companies who use Android and Chrome in their devices. Otherwise these companies would not pay a dime to Microsoft. Furthermore it proves that these companies do not have any faith that Google really can protect them against Microsoft. Soon Oracle will be knocking on the door of these Google partners to collect licensing fees for the violation of Java patents. How will Google protect it's patents, even as the judge in the current court case of Oracle against Google, that Google will have to pay up.

13. taco50

Posts: 5506; Member since: Oct 08, 2009

I agree Google is basically screwing their partners. This is a common Google tactic. Violate patents and hope because they're so big they get away with it.

17. denney

Posts: 98; Member since: Oct 20, 2011

I wish I had a time machine, so I could go back and tell xerox to patent everything they made. There would be no Microsoft or Apple.

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