Patent Battles: Are Property Rights Anti-Competitive?

By Ed Silverstein August 15, 2011

Microsoft and Apple have been long-time rivals but the claim is now being made that they are collaborating to defeat Google and the Android operating system.

It’s clear that Google’s Android is successful. For example, over 550,000 Android devices are activated daily. This success has led to “a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents,” Google’s David Drummond, the company’s senior vice president and chief legal officer, claimed in a recent company blog post.

“Microsoft and Apple have always been at each other's throats, so when they get into bed together you have to start wondering what's going on,” Drummond added, according to a report carried on TechZone360.

The alliance of new-found allies is trying to purchase Novell’s older patents, particularly Microsoft and Apple. They don’t want Google to get the patents. They are also trying to get $15 licensing fees for each device run on the Android OS.

“Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it,” Drummond claimed in the blog post. “They want to make it harder for manufacturers to sell Android devices. Instead of competing by building new features or devices, they are fighting through litigation.”

“The winning $4.5 billion for Nortel’s patent portfolio was nearly five times larger than the pre-auction estimate of $1 billion,” Drummond added. “Fortunately, the law frowns on the accumulation of dubious patents for anti-competitive means — which means these deals are likely to draw regulatory scrutiny, and this patent bubble will pop.”

He noted that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) ordered Microsoft to sell patents it purchased and the winning group – Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, and EMC – is required to provide a license to the open-source community.

But not everyone buys into his arguments. Scott Cleland, president of Precursor LLC, a consulting firm whose clients include those who compete against Google, argued that “no other Fortune 500 company has ever been more hostile to others’ property rights than Google,” according to a report from Forbes. Cleland also claims Google is “the least open of open source mobile platforms,” citing a study by VisionMobile. And the Federal Trade Commission, now investigating Google for antitrust issues, “is unlikely to fall for Google’s ploy to shift antitrust enforcement attention away from Google and onto Apple and Microsoft,” Cleland said.

“While Google may have been successful in getting FTC approval of its AdMob acquisition by spuriously charging that Apple was the real anti-competitive threat to mobile advertising, despite the FTC’s ‘serious antitrust concerns’ about the transaction, Google’s latest scheme is unlikely to work again,” Cleland alleged in the Forbes article. “The FTC understands the old adage, ‘fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.’”

Cleland said Google needs to be able to prove in a court that thousands of patents it may be infringing are “bogus.”

“What is really ‘bogus’… is Google’s political argument that the DOJ should somehow become Constitutional Convention, Congress, USPTO and Federal Court all rolled into one in order to grant Google an effective pardon for its widespread infringement of patents –under some novel self-serving interpretation of antitrust law,” Cleland said. “Common sense tells us free markets cannot exist without enforceable property rights, so suing to protect one’s property rights in court is pro-competitive, while serially infringing competitors’ property rights – like Google does – is anti-competitive.”

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.



Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Related Articles

Consumer Privacy in the Digital Era: Three Trends to Watch

By: Special Guest    1/18/2018

Digital advertising has exploded in recent years, with the latest eMarketer data forecasting $83 billion in revenue this year and continued growth on …

Read More

CES 2018: Terabit Fiber - Closer Than We Think

By: Doug Mohney    1/17/2018

One of the biggest challenges for 5G and last mile 10 Gig deployments is not raw data speeds, but middle mile and core networks. The wireless industry…

Read More

10 Benefits of Drone-Based Asset Inspections

By: Frank Segarra    1/15/2018

Although a new and emerging technology, (which is still evolving), in early 2018, most companies are not aware of the possible benefits they can achie…

Read More

VR Could Change Entertainment Forever

By: Special Guest    1/11/2018

VR could change everything from how we play video games to how we interact with our friends and family. VR has the power to change how we consume all …

Read More

Making Connections - The Value of Data Correlation

By: Special Guest    1/5/2018

The app economy is upon us, and businesses of all stripes are moving to address it. In this age of digital transformation, businesses rely on applicat…

Read More