A Suggestion for Google

If Google wants to make the world a better place, they should consider throwing all the patents they pick up in this defensive transaction into the public domain.  And even better would be if the could entice Microsoft and Oracle and IBM and a few others to do the same.  The crazy web of really bad software patents is killing the innovation in this industry.

Google may say they are buying these defensively, but let them sit on their books long enough and someone is going to be sorely tempted to start mining them for $.  Just look at how far Micrsoft's position on anti-trust suits have come now that they are suing Google for anti-trust violations.

  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

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    > If Google wants to make the world a better place, they should consider throwing all the patents they pick up in this defensive transaction into the public domain.

    As per other previously arguments, I'd somewhat disagree. "More of the same" is not what Intellectual Property law needs. Google is a company that has a very large war chest for such things, and enough pull to get other organizations and backers behind them.

    What they OUGHT to do is aim to use their ownership to push for a complete restructure of IP Law.

    Almost all IP law uses RP law as its base. It assumes the two are some single-form thing called "property".

    IP should be treated differently from "Real Property" -- because, while IP is property, it's got as much to do with RP as ice does with steam.

    Both are water, but if you attempted to treat them as though they behaved under the exact same set of physical laws, you'd get scalded and frozen on a steady basis.

    Lacking that, yeah, PD is the best option.

    But if Google really, truly wants "to make the world a better place", then restructuring IP Law -- or at least getting an intelligent dialogue going on over the matter that seriously grasps that the two forms of property are as different as ice and water -- is the way to go. Because at this point, there is the MPAA/RIAA on their end, and just about everyone else simply ignoring the law as best they can on the other.

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  • IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society

    For those who haven't seen it before, I continue to recommend:

    The Economy of Ideas
    A framework for patents and copyrights in the Digital Age.
    (Everything you know about intellectual property is wrong.)

    Despite being 16 years old, it still manages to be exceptionally relevant despite the ever-changing pace of computer technology.

    Not because the technology it is about hasn't changed, but because the underlying legal and economic structures are still stuck in the Gutenberg era.

  • stargeizer

    The problem with put these patents on the public domain, is that you throw all your possible defense to the trash. Plain and simple, hoping for Microsoft, Oracle and IBM to ditch their patent portfolio is just a dream, given the actual status of the patent law. Remember that Microsoft, Oracle and IBM were in one way or another behind the actual laws that rule the US patent system. It's broken, yes. It prevent innovation, yes. But it was planned to do so. Otherwise, nowadays you could have quite a lot of innovative products and Microsoft, Oracle and IBM nowadays would not have the power they have nowadays.

    So, given the actual status of things, you can't really ask Google to put all of these (if they win these patents, that is) to put these on the bin. The only winners of that move would be Microsoft and Oracle. (And imagne for a moment that Oracle put more money on the bet (they have it) so the ultimate bet is to kill/absorb Google movile bussiness ... Knowing Larry Elison history, is very plausible).

  • John Moore

    I agree. They should campaign for a radical restructuring of IP law. Patents are way out of date in the digital age, and software patents are almost always for something obvious. Copyrights, well, they're literally Mickey Mouse.

    I've been a software engineer for over 40 years. Almost every software patent I read is so obvious that I wouldn't hire an engineer who, given the problem, couldn't come up with that solution or something better (except for the Canadian early '80s software patent I share :-). The rest, while novel, don't deserve 17 or 20 year protection. Arguably, they don't deserve any at all. Math is not patentable, which is the argument the USPTO used to avoid patenting software. I haven't heard anyone argue that patents would increase innovation in Patents.

    It would help if the courts would use the Patents and Copyrights clause in the constitution, and throw out rules that don't foster innovation - the stated purpose of the Patent and Copyright limited term monopoly required by the Constitution.

  • Daran

    "If Google wants to make the world a better place"

    The reality of their actions if different than the empty slogans like 'don't be evil' (but work closely with the Chinese government to censor the internet until you figure out that they don't have any intention to play fair after all)

  • Dan

    It's a good idea; unfortunately it's unworkable under the current rules of the game. One of the reasons that the big tech companies pick up these patent portfolios is as a mutually assured destruction move. If you sue me for infringing on one of my patents, I'll find two of mine that your infringing and counter-sue. By putting your patents into the public domain, you effectively relieve yourself of this second strike capability.

    Under the current rules, the last player to move wins, so there is absolutely no incentive to move first.