Mar 122013

I like Microsoft’s Frank X. Shaw, mostly because he has no qualms about jumping into Google’s shit. Sometimes Shaw gets a little too enthusiastic about the company he works for and one sick brag post in particular caught my attention all the way back in 2010. I had some beefs with Shaw’s numbers when they were announced; it turns out that the future would be far less kind to Shaw that I ever could be. The closing sentence of the brutal take-down issued by one MG Siegler pretty much says it all:

My point here isn’t to rag on Microsoft — well, at least that’s not the only point. The point is to show that numbers worth touting one year may come back to haunt you in the future — especially if you’re focusing on comparing yourself to your rivals. And if you’re going to get cute in calling out your rivals, it’s probably best to make sure that your body can cash the checks your ego is writing.

The whole thing is a must-read. Comparing Shaw’s swaggery prose to their stark realizations made it the most enjoyable read of the week. That and the fact that I didn’t have to write anything about it myself. Mostly the former.

 Posted by at 1:20 pm
Mar 122013

Google has some funny lawyers. You’ve got the numerous accounts on record of Google’s attorneys bawling about how unfairly companies were bullying Google with their patents. General Counsel Kent Walker thinks patents that protect successful products should be made subject to the same kind of fair and reasonable terms that apply to FRAND patents, you know, the ones Google is hanging brains to the courts by suing for injunctions with them. Kent made an appearance with Richard Stallman to talk about how all patents were evil, which I heard was a delicious piece of satire. No company could execute so much hypocrisy without believing in what they were doing – even if no one else does.

Which brings us to our latest transparent attempt by Google to seem like the defender of the oppressed in the fight against patent trolls, which they’re calling “Patent Licensing to Encourage Innovation”. Let’s see what the shysters in Mountain View are cooking up now, starting with the initiative’s home page.

Many technology companies want to compete on the merits of their products or services.

Many companies choose to base their offering on ideas stolen from other companies while yelling “free and open!”. Tomato, toe-mah-toe.

Such a company typically:

  • Enters into patent licensing arrangements to increase freedom to operate while respecting valid, enforceable patent rights;

  • Wants to reduce patent assertions from non-practicing entities; and

  • Develops a patent portfolio primarily for defensive purposes.

I think Google forgot one:

  • Does not use patents designed to be licensed in a Fair Reasonable and Non-Descriminatory manner as litigious cudgels to affect injunctions.

Fixed that for you. Small omission.

In this context, there are four multi-party, self-help, patent licensing approaches.

Actually, there are a number of patent licensing approaches undertaken by companies that do “compete on the merits of their products or services”, but this assumes you’re naive enough to believe Good Guy Google’s reasoning.



all these approaches are royalty-free and the goal of these approaches is to increase freedom to operate and to reduce patent litigation.

All these approaches minimize the downside of our outright theft of intellectual property and the goal of these approaches is to increase our freedom to steal from others and reduce our patent litigation. Rewriting Google’s pedantic horsehit is fun!

So what are these four (and only four) licensing models that Google is pushing? They actually provide a handy comparison chart. See if you can find the common denominators:

Screeny Shot Mar 12, 2013 11.35.40 AMAmazingly, Google doesn’t perceive there being a market to actually make money off of intellectual property through licensing, as indicated by the bolded use of “royalty-free” on their survey’s home page and their need to repeat the text in the “License Grant” row four times. Also, depending on which of Google’s straw men models you’re considering, the entity entering into the licensing agreement either automatically cross-licenses their intellectual property to all members of the group in perpetuity or as long as they remain in the fold.

By getting suckers to chip into these pools of non-revenue-generating kumbaya, what exactly do they get out of it? Access to all of Google’s patents? That’s not clear in Google’s “survey”, but it’s a logical extension of their proposal. Maybe those companies will turn around and lob some of their own FRAND grenades against their outside-the-fold competitors the way Google is. It’s not like Google can point to their behavior as a model that other companies should emulate. That would empower a whole other tier of companies with the ability to abuse those patents. And what happens when one of the party guests steps directly on one of Google’s patent-protected revenue streams? I’m sure they’ll hug it out.

Google isn’t threatened by trolls. Google’s litigious right hand would make short work of any vanilla Eastern District of Texas-dwelling lowlife that tried to bring them in. And Google has been incredibly lucky defending themselves overall. They even won a baffling 1st round victory against Oracle.

And that’s what this is about.

It’s the threat that legit, big cap tech companies pose to Google’s cavalier and unapologetic treatment of others’ intellectual property. These companies aren’t going to stop going after Google and sooner or later, they’ll have their Samsung moment. Let’s call this “encouraging innovation” bullshit what it is: an attempt by Google to cheaply build a layer of insulation against their day of reckoning from an egregious history of IP theft.

 Posted by at 1:09 pm
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