It was good news for Google last month when the company’s Android operating system was found to be non-infringing on multiple Oracle patents in regards to Java. One win doesn’t mean that Google is in the clear though. Android and those that put the OS on their hardware still have to deal with patent issues around the world.
A recent blog post from Foss Patents helps us put the current Android patent wars into perspective. His research found that the Android has infringed upon 11 patents belonging to Apple and Microsoft. These aren’t patent trials that are still underway, but rather a long list of the times Android has been found to be infringing.
Google’s troubles first started back in 2011 when Apple brought a patent lawsuit against hardware manufacturers – Samsung and Motorola – for its patent on a “portable electronic device for photo management.” This led to injunctions being placed against both companies in Germany.
As we go through the months leading up to the present, there seems to be a pattern. Apple really doesn’t like Android, but they absolutely hate Motorola and Samsung. Out of the 11 patents that were ruled as being infringed upon, 10 involved either Motorola, Samsung or both. The only one that didn’t involve the two prior parties was brought agains HTC for a “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data” patent.
As mentioned above, Apple isn’t the only company using its vast array of patents to keep the competition at bay. Microsoft has jumped in on the fun as well. In May, Microsoft was able to prove that Motorola devices infringed its patent and was able to get an injunction placed in Germany.
With all these patent lawsuits flying around, will there ever be an end in sight? Apple certainly doesn’t seem to be slowing down as they were just granted a preliminary injunction against the Galaxy Nexus.
Thankfully, it seems that some parts of the U.S. legal system are beginning to see what Apple, Motorola and others are really hoping to achieve here – killing competition in the courts instead of proving their worth on the market. Richard Posner, judge for the United States Court of Appeals, threw out a case involving Google and Apple last week on the grounds that both parties failed to actually show any damages caused by competing devices.
All of this is to say that patent reform is a major concern that’s not getting nearly enough coverage. As long as people are able to buy their product of choice, they don’t seem to mind that companies are killing innovation from themselves and others with these frivolous lawsuits.