Remember those cheap rate international numbers that would make you enter about 100 digits so you could call Uncle Fred in the US at some ridiculously low rate of 3p a minute?
If we’re being honest, they never really worked all that well did they? Sometimes you’d get through, but the line would be so unclear that you’d barley be able to decipher the other person amongst the static. Or you’d find yourself cut off within seconds of being connected. Or you couldn’t even get through in the first place. Continue reading →
Google has made the latest pre-emptive strike in a complicated war with Apple, Microsoft and BT over the ownership of technology used in their Android Operating system.
Litigation wrangling has been brewing for some years now as the competition steps up in the smartphone war.
Apple has already had to patch things up with Nokia in a patent-dispute that was launched back in 2009. Their dispute was over patent infringement that included touch interfaces, caller ID, display illumination, and 3G and wi-fi technology. Apple counter-sued Nokia, but ultimately the whole shebang was resolved with an undisclosed paycheck to Nokia in June of 2011.
But the latest round of litigation focuses on internet giant Google, and its alleged infringement of patent protected technology. The litigation also affects the mobile platforms on which Android is served: HTC, Samsung and Motorola.
HTC Excluded from US Imports
Apple scored a victory in December against Android phonemaker company, HTC, when the US International Trade Commission (ITC) agreed that the company had infringed upon two of Apple’s patents relating to “detecting structures in data and performing actions on detected structures”. This ostensibly refers to the technology employed when, for example, a user taps a phone number in a contact list and the phone then calls the number.
The ITC ruling currently excludes future HTC phones that violate the patent from being imported into the US. However, it is not yet known if Apple will pursue the ruling to include other Android smartphones currently sold in the US. Needless to say, the effects of that on Google’s share of the market could be huge.
BT have also weighed in to the fray with a billion dollar lawsuit against Google Android that covers patent infringement for functionality including “a navigation system which includes a fixed part and at least one mobile part to provide guidance information to a user” ie Google Maps.
IBM Patent Buyout
So how has Google responded?
Well, if you thought someone might take the high road in all of this, think again. The digital land grab continues unabated as Google has now acquired 217 patents from IBM.
The patents cover wide-ranging technologies such as transferring web apps between devices and using semantic networks to develop a social network (hinting at Google’s continued development of Google+).
However, the more cynical of observers note that mass patent buying isn’t primarily creatively focused but a pre-emptive strike against future litigation, bought with the intention of slowing down their competition.
How Can the Smartphone War be Resolved?
Ultimately, if the heavyweights continue to focus on stifling each other with lawsuits and countersuits than it will be the consumer who loses out.
But shouldn’t they have a right to protect the technology they have invested in?
And how much is the patent system to blame in what they do and don’t choose to rubber stamp?
We’d love to hear your views, so leave a comment below and tell us what you think.