Google Buys More Patents from IBM

We recently reported that Google acquired more than 1000 patents from IBM in July. Ever since Google and its partners have been hounded by heavyweights like Apple, Microsoft and Oracle, it has been trying to bulk up its patent portfolio for self-defense. It recently acquired Motorola for $12.5 billion, primarily for its massive patent portfolio. But apparently, that hasn’t been enough.


Today, according to a report by SEO by the Sea, Google bought 1023 patents from IBM, in addition to its earlier purchase. Records from the USPTO indicate that the date of the acquisition was August 17, 2011.

Google recently transferred some patents to HTC, which will help it in its lawsuit against Apple. It is now taking on a more proactive role in defending its partners, which are being wooed by Microsoft to adopt its Windows Phone 7 platform.

This recent purchase includes patents related to Java, wireless patents and web and search related patents. On the surface, it looks like it could help Google against all three – Apple, Microsoft and Oracle.

IBM has traditionally possessed one of the greatest patent portfolios, while Google hardly had any, compared to Microsoft or Apple. In the last couple of months, Google has considerably added to its portfolio and now has a portfolio comparable to Microsoft.

You can check out more details about those patents here: Google and IBM do it again: Google Acquires over 1,000 Patents from IBM in August

Microsoft Products Steer Clear of Vulnerability Leaderboard

In its latest quarterly malware report, Kaspersky Labs has released key trends after analysing vast numbers of IT threats during the second quarter of 2011.

Software Makers

The top 10 rating of vulnerabilities includes products from just two companies: Adobe and Oracle (by virtue of Java vulnerabilities). With great improvements in the Windows updates mechanism and several Windows XP users moving to a more secure Windows 7 experience, Microsoft is no more featured in the list. Incidentally, seven of the top 10 vulnerabilities were found in Adobe Flash Player alone!


Navigating the web remains the riskiest activity on the Internet. 87 per cent of the websites used to spread malicious programs were concentrated in just 10 countries, with the US based websites leading the pack.

Local infection

The number of fake antivirus programs detected globally by Kaspersky Lab has increased and also the number of users whose computers blocked attempts to install counterfeit software increased 300 per cent in just three months of the last quarter.

India was among the top 10 countries with highest risk of local infection on computers. Every second computer in the country was at risk of local infection at least once in the past three months.

Botnet controllers see India as a place with millions of unprotected and un-patched computers which can remain active on zombie networks for extended periods of time.

– Yury Namestnikov, Senior Virus Analyst at Kaspersky Lab


Interestingly, 2011 can go down in the technology history as the year of hacking  since  services from several major organizations like Sony, Honda, Fox News, Epsilon, and Citibank were hacked and disrupted


The number of mobile threats targeting different mobile platforms has increased exponentially. In the second quarter of 2011, the detected threats running on J2ME doubled while those on Android nearly tripled. Malicious programs continue to be detected in the official Android Market.

Google: “Microsoft and Apple are Using Patents as a Weapon to Stop Innovation”

The patent wars just got official. Google has posted an official statement blaming Microsoft, Apple and Oracle for carrying out “a hostile, organized campaign against Android.” The post by David Drummond, SVP and Chief Legal Officer at Google, elaborates how Microsoft and Apple first acquired Novell’s old patents, and now Nortel’s patents, just to make sure Google didn’t get them.

Microsoft has been trying to profit at the expense of Android, seeking $15 license fees from Android manufacturers like Samsung for every Android device that they sell. Apple has also been involved in litigation against HTC and Samsung over iPhone design patents.

Google accused them of “attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Mobile; and even suing Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it.”


David also pointed out how Microsoft and Apple’s anti-competitive strategies are escalating the cost of patents. The price of the Nortel patent portfolio which was estimated to be worth less than a billion dollars was bid up to $4.5 billion. Even InterDigital, the latest company on the block with a large patent portfolio is likely to be sold for more than $5 billion (its market cap just a month ago was less than $2 billion), just for its 8,800 patents.

Even Google has been trying to buy some patents to defend itself against its competitors. “We’re also looking at other ways to reduce the anti-competitive threats against Android by strengthening our own patent portfolio. Unless we act, consumers could face rising costs for Android devices — and fewer choices for their next phone.”

Google also pointed out that the Nortel story is far from over; that the Department of Justice is ” looking into whether Microsoft and Apple acquired the Nortel patents for anti-competitive means.”

One thing is for certain, with Google taking it public, it’s definitely going to get even more interesting.

Google Gets Serious About Patents; Wants to Hire Patent Agents

While Android is probably one of Google’s biggest successes, it has been getting screwed by almost every major technology company which has a few patents to its name. The patent wars, as I like to call them, have intensified so much, that almost every mobile company in the US is involved in a patent lawsuit with each other. Apple is suing HTC and Samsung, Samsung is suing it back, Nokia is suing Apple, and Microsoft is making more money from Android than it ever did (or will) from Windows Phone 7. Dying giants like Nokia are making more money from patent settlements and licensing agreements than they make by selling smartphones.

Even Oracle, which is known for its huge army of patent lawyers is suing Google, over the use of Java in Android, and hopes to make a few billion dollars out of it. It seems like everyone except Google is going to make money off Android now, which is probably why Google is now taking things into its own hands.

It has been trying to get its hands on some patents related to wireless telecommunication, just so it can fight off other companies wanting a piece of the Android pie. It bid billions of dollars for the Nortel patent portfolio, even going crazy momentarily, bidding all sorts of weird numbers like Pi billion dollars, but eventually lost the auction, when Apple, Microsoft and some others decide to gang up against it bidding a huge amount which was ridiculously high even for Google.

It has apparently shown interest in acquiring InterDigital, which has a huge patent portfolio, but Apple is trying to crash even that party. Apple has roughly double the cash reserves of Google, and it is willing to go to any lengths to ensure that Google doesn’t get hold of any patents.

So now Google seems to be trying the standard way – inventing stuff and applying for patents. It has put up a job opening on its website for patent agents.

Patent Agent @ Google – Job Listing

“As a Patent Agent, you’ll help protect Google’s valuable and growing intellectual property. This is a vital role on the Patent team in which you’ll work with and manage outside counsel during their preparation and prosecution of domestic and foreign patent applications. A significant portion of your job will be to acquire a deep understanding of Google’s business and technologies and to collaborate with engineers and product managers for the purpose of harvesting ideas for new patent applications. This will include educating them on the intricacies of the patent system. Your responsibilities may also grow to include assisting with the review of third-party offers to license and/or purchase patents and supporting due-diligence activities in merger-and-acquisition transactions. You’ll work with an invigorating, inspiring team of innovators who are passionate about future technologies and excited about resolving their ensuing legal challenges.”

Good luck, Google. You need it. You are probably going to get screwed a lot in the coming months. I’m rooting for you.

How Microsoft Makes Use of Patent System and Profits from Android Licensing Fees

Android has, no doubt, been exceptionally the best among all other platforms and one of the greatest successes of Google. With 38.1 percent market share in the smartphone industry, it certainly has retained it’s top position leaving behind Apple’s iOS and RIM’s BlackBerry at second and third positions respectively.

Powered by Google’s Android, millions of smartphones have been sold until now. That makes Andorid the number one smartphone OS in the world and Google aims to generate $1.3 billion via mobile advertising revenue by 2012. Although Google is generating big bucks and Android is marking a huge success in the smartphone industry, several actions taken by Oracle and Microsoft for patent infringements could damage the OS’s appeal. Currently, Oracle and Google are tied up in an ongoing lawsuit over Android’s infringement on Java related patents.

How Microsoft Plays with the Patent System and Profits from Android Licensing Fees

However, Microsoft feels a little more obnoxious on how Android is marking it’s success. Microsoft has been demanding royalty payments from various companies who have built smartphones on Google’s Android operating system and has generated huge revenue through it. That’s because, in the last four months, Microsoft has received 700 patents and has totally  piled up  over 18,000 patents which were granted within the last decade while Google has been granted only 700 patents since it was born 13-years back.

With this large number of patents that they hold, Microsoft is targeting and taking aggressive legal actions against companies that are manufacturing and selling smartphone that run Android OS, because Microsoft holds certain patents that are practically used in the code.

Timothy Lee explains that Android has approximately 10 million lines of code in it and auditing  these  many lines of code for consenting with  the 18,000 patents of Microsoft is practically impossible.

Auditing 10 million lines of code for compliance with 18,000 patents is an impossible task—especially because the meaning of a patent’s claims are often not clear until after they have been litigated. Most Silicon Valley companies don’t even try to avoid infringing patents. They just ignore them and hope they’ll be able to afford good lawyers when the inevitable lawsuits arrive.

Few days back, it was reported that Microsoft struck a deal with Samsung to pay $15 for every Android smartphone sold. Earlier, Microsoft had signed a deal with HTC due to the same reasons. HTC was left with no options but to agree and pay Microsoft $5 for every Android phone sold in exchange for the use of the patented technology.

Microsoft has signed similar deals with several smaller companies and for an undisclosed amount. Last year, Microsoft sued Motorola over Android patent infringements and demonstrated that Android could be costlier than Windows 7.

Even though Microsoft has nothing to do with Android’s  design, marketing or manufacturing of Android  smartphone, they are making millions out of it. Microsoft is currently making more money from Android patent settlements than their own platform, Windows 7.

HTC has sold over 30 million Android devices by which Microsoft generated $150 million. Microsoft’s Windows 7 license costs $15 and until now they has managed to sell over 2 million units which got them $30 million. And that’s just HTC alone. Considering Samsung, Motorola and several other companies, Microsoft could be generating on an average of over $900 million per year in revenue. This is seriously good business for Microsoft. Microsoft can just discontinue Windows 7 and rely on the revenue they get from the patent settlements for years.

Android: Microsoft’s New Cash Cow

The Rise of Android

Android is, without doubt, one of Google’s greatest successes to date. Millions of Android devices have been sold until now, with over 500k Android devices activations happening daily. It is the number one smartphone OS in the world and it has the second largest application repository after the iPhone App Store; with over 300,000 apps and games in the Android Market. Android is also a large profit driver for Google now. Google is expected to make close to $1.3 billion dollars from mobile advertising revenue on Android devices in 2012.

Patent Wars!

In the most recent development relating to the patent wars between the major tech companies, Microsoft has asked Samsung to pay it $15 for every Android device it sells, as part of a patent licensing arrangement. Microsoft has been going after many Android device manufacturers and has been successful in getting royalty payments from companies like HTC, Onkyo, Wistron etc.

With Samsung being the number one Android phone manufacturer, that may amount to a huge figure. Samsung sold more than 3 million Galaxy S 2 units in the first 2 months itself, which means a $45 million payoff for Microsoft from one handset itself.

A Win for Microsoft

If Microsoft is able to coerce every Android manufacturer into such deals, assuming an average royalty of $10, it may make billions from its greatest nemesis in the mobile arena – Android. Such a scenario would be a win-win for Microsoft, as the only other viable option for device manufacturers except Android is its own product – Windows Phone 7. Whether manufacturers use Android or Windows Phone 7, Microsoft would be smiling all the way to the bank.

Google’s Troubles

Google’s troubles are only beginning. After losing the Nortel patent auctions, it still has only about 700 patents in its portfolio. With Oracle suing Google, demanding billions of dollars up front as well as 15% of all Android ad revenues, and Microsoft gunning for its hardware partners, Google is in a tough spot. Manufacturers may refrain from producing Android handsets and tablets if they fear litigation by giants like Microsoft and Oracle. Google is in a very vulnerable position, and it cannot defend its partners unless it builds up a huge patent portfolio. Microsoft, Apple, RIM and others are spending billions to ensure that it stays that way.

The biggest gainers might turn out to be Windows Phone 7. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Windows Phone 7 and iOS as the major players in the smartphone market in the next couple of years, with Android being relegated to the sidelines, however low the chances of that happening may seem now.

HP Sues Oracle Over Itanium Processor Development Pullout

Oracle is one of the world’s biggest company and database vendor. It also became one of the world’s largest server manufacturing company when they purchased Sun.

Oracle HP Lawsuit

On March 22, 2011, Oracle issued a statement (read here) that they will be stopping development for Itanium based processors and continue developing for newer processors. This looked directly in line with increasing the footage in the server business. However, it looks like HP is not taking the development nicely and and are now suing Oracle over the stoppage of development on Itanium processors.

According to a new blog post from HP, they stated that they have filed a lawsuit on June 15, 2011 in the Superior Court of the State of California, for the County of Santa Clara, seeking Oracle to reverse its decision. HP says that discontinuation of the software development on Itanium processors violates a legal agreements made by Oracle to HP and their 140,000 customers.

In addition to that HP also stated that, Oracle’s decision is unlawful in the sense that they are trying to lure customers who use HP Itanium based platforms to their own Sun Solaris based platforms.

Oracle is not new to court cases and have been fighting a court battle with Google over and Java which is getting murkier by the day and is almost close to being decided. Back in September 2010, HP had also sued former HP CEO Mark Hurd over joining Oracle, Oracle in turn had threatened to walk out of their Partnership. However, the hatchet between the two was buried when HP dropped their case against Hurd.

The new case would once again pit these two companies against each other and keep their lawyers busy, but will they once again bury the hatchet and sleep together?

In the past, Oracle also has been notorious for killing lot of Open Source Software. The most recent tussle being between FSF and Oracle over OpenOffice and the Document Foundation.

Oracle has been trying to arm-twist a lot of people and companies to fall in line, but are they the one who have to mend their ways? Well, I can’t say for certain, but this HP lawsuit will definitely make for a nice little battle.

Full Statement from HP on suing Oracle:

HP believes that Oracle’s March 22 statement to discontinue all future software development on the Itanium platform violates legally binding commitments Oracle has made to HP and the more than 140,000 shared HP-Oracle customers. Further, we believe that this is an unlawful attempt to force customers from HP Itanium platforms to Oracle’s own platforms.

As a result, on June 15, HP filed a civil lawsuit in the Superior Court of the State of California, for the County of Santa Clara, seeking Oracle to reverse its decision. HP believes that Oracle is legally obligated to continue to offer its software product suite on the Itanium platform and we will take whatever legal actions are available to us necessary to protect our customers’ best interests and the significant investments they have made.

HP remains committed to a long-term mission-critical server roadmap, including Intel’s Itanium processor. Similarly, Intel has repeatedly reinforced its ongoing commitment to the Itanium roadmap.

Oracle is Playing the Android Card Again, Google is in Trouble

Oracle is notorious for its lawsuits. It might be going a step further if I call it a patent troll but Oracle is behaving like one lately. Google is clearly the underdog in the Android lawsuit, but what Oracle is doing is notorious nonetheless. Oracle has asked Google to pay up for the patent infringements. As worrying as this is, it will pin down Google’s entire Android business in two killer blows.
First, Google would have to move to a per-copy license fee. Second, the lawsuit claims for monetary compensations that far surpass Google’s profits with Android, which we know is not much. The scenario is building up from October last year and the Googlers at Mountain View are having a tough time with Oracle beating the Android drums every now and then.

The Android boom that we have seen lately owes its existence to the fact that Android is hassle free unlike most other mobile OS. Added licenses will add parameters for the buyer and for Google as well, hampering further Android sales. Oracle has earned a bad name for itself over the course of the last six months. Moreover, Oracle is not on a good start with Sun technologies as it has shut down many and has cared less about the ones that live.

Oracle has thrown out old Sun talent and some have left  voluntarily.  The big shot Gosling himself has joined Google and this earns Google some thumbs up, at least from people. However, Oracle has a strong case in court where people do not count and legal arguments do.

I will not support Oracle in this even if they are right, because of their attitude. However, Google should have taken care of things as well. A complete drilldown of the patent is available here and you can figure the proceedings of the entire case from reading it.

The Document Foundation Responds To Going To The Apache Foundation

Just a while ago, we reported that Oracle has decided to give to the Apache Foundation instead of The Document Foundation. Well, Italo Vignoli, who is one of the co-founders and a member of the steering committee of The Document Foundation, has responded to Oracle’s decision to ignore them and go to the Apache Foundation instead.

In an email, Italo Vignoli wrote that The Document Foundation welcomes Oracle’s decision to release previously proprietary codes as open source to the Apache Foundation. He also mentioned that open-sourcing the codes makes it possible for them to take up “key user features” and include them in LibreOffice.

The Document Foundation is not however, pleased at Oracle’s move which has resulted in the possibility of reuniting LibreOffice and being ruled out – something which The Document Foundation has wanted right from the beginning. This is what Vignoli wrote:

The Document Foundation would welcome the reuniting of the and LibreOffice projects into a single community of equals in the wake of the departure of Oracle. The step Oracle has taken today was no doubt taken in good faith, but does not appear to directly achieve this goal. The Apache community, which we respect enormously, has very different expectations and norms – licensing, membership and more – to the existing and LibreOffice projects. We regret the missed opportunity but are committed to working with all active community members to devise the best possible future for LibreOffice and

Because The Document Foundation is not involved directly in Oracle’s announcement today, Vigoli described the event as “neutral” for The Document Foundation. He, however, expressed desire to work with the Apache Foundation to co-develop with them to provide better office applications.

There has never been a better time to get involved and advance the state of the art in free software office suites.
TDF is therefore willing to start talking with Apache Software Foundation, following the email from ASF President Jim Jagielski, who is anticipating frequent contacts between the Apache Software Foundation and The Document Foundation over the next few months.

The reality is that almost all of the previous contributors are with The Document Foundation now. So, the best possible place for Oracle to donate should have been The Document Foundation. Now that it is with the Apache Foundation, a completely new development team will have to take up the project – something which is not very easy to do, as Oracle found out. The best possible course of action for Apache Foundation will be to co-develop with The Document Foundation, as they have suggested. Even if they do not get access to the development, it will not affect The Document Foundation very much as they already have a very active community with great experience to keep working on LibreOffice.

Oracle “Donates” To The Apache Foundation

In a surprising announcement, Oracle has said that they are donating to the Apache Foundation. Luke Kowalski, Vice- President, Oracle Corporate Architecture Group, said that their decision to give away the code to The Apache Foundation is a part of their commitment to the open source communities. and The Apache Foundation

While it is a good thing that the assets are in the hands of the open source community, questions will be asked as to why Oracle choose the Apache Foundation. Regarding that decision, Luke Kowalski had this to say:

Donating to Apache gives this popular consumer software a mature, open, and well established infrastructure to continue well into the future. The Apache Software Foundation’s model makes it possible for commercial and individual volunteer contributors to collaborate on open source product development.

Jim Jagielski, president, The Apache Software Foundation, has welcomed Oracle’s move to donate to the Apache Foundation:

We welcome highly-focused, emerging projects from individual contributors, as well as those with robust developer communities, global user bases, and strong corporate backing.

Jagielski also added that OpenOffice will be initially an Apache incubator project. Upon maturing into a Top Level Project, a committee will be formed to guide the project on its day-to-day working.

Why Apache Foundation and not The Document Foundation?

If you recall, after Oracle acquired, many of the leading contributors formed The Document Foundation. The Document Foundation requested Oracle to join them and donate the name “” to the community. Oracle snubbed them and asked them to leave instead.

They left, along with most of the other contributors, and went on to fork to form another office suite LibreOffice. LibreOffice has been very successful and most of the major Linux distributions have switched over to LibreOffice as the default office application suite.

So, considering the history between The Document Foundation and Oracle, it is not surprising that Oracle decided to ignore The Document Foundation and gave to the Apache Foundation.

Licensing Issues

A problem with becoming an Apache project will be the licensing issue. Apache projects uses the Apache Public License while uses the GNU Lesser Public License (LGPL) version 3. The LGPL and Apache Public License are not compatible with each other in matters regarding distribution with software under other license and distribution of derivatives.

The GNU Lesser Public License version 3 allows for the distribution of the software under LGPL with software under other license with certain restrictions. The distributor has to provide the source code of the software under LGPL along with the modifications made to it. The Apache Public License allows the distribution of the software without any such restrictions.

Regarding the derivative works, the LGPL allows their distribution only if the derivative is also under LGPL or GPL. Under the Apache Public License, the derivatives are free to choose any license as long as ‘Apache’ is not included in its name.

It will be interesting to see how this gets sorted out.