Last week Google petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for permission to appeal the Federal Circuit decision to overturn their victory against Oracle. You may remember that Oracle sued for patent and copyright infringement over Google’s use of a small subset of the huge Java class API in Android. Oracle lost in front of a jury in the district court in San Francisco, but then won on appeal.
The case will be a significant landmark for the technology industry regardless of the outcome, but the real impact of any decisions reached will be felt first by Android. The petition itself then suggests that the wider impact of the case is narrower than others might have feared, as its effects only come into play with substantial systems of APIs. Still, in the event of an Oracle win, open-source-licensed APIs would suddenly become much more important and the work of creating developer ecosystems around proprietary APIs would become much more challenging.
The Google petition includes three detailed and thorough arguments for the overturning of the Federal Circuit decision. For a look into what those arguments are and more on the significance of the case, try Simon’s InfoWorld article.
The Innovation Act – a bill to restrain patent trolls – is a step in the right direction on the road to patent reform, despite its flaws. Yesterday the House of Representatives showed massive endorsement for the need to reform the patent system by supporting the bill with an overwhelming majority of 325 to 91. Despite the huge support for change, even from the White House, there remains a core of vested interest voices speaking out in favour of the patent trolls. News of the House’s response to the bill shows that these voices are now very much fighting against the flow of progress. For more detail, here’s Simon’s InfoWorld article on the announcement.
Since the announcement of Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia there have been numerous assessments of what this says with regard to Microsoft’s future business model. Are they becoming another Apple clone? Much less attention has been paid however to the remains of Nokia.
You see, Microsoft didn’t acquire everything. They’ve got the traditional mobile phones, the smart devices and all related services. That’s all the important bits right? Not quite, Nokia has been left with a mapping data business, a technology business providing phone companies with infrastructure, and (significantly) a considerable portfolio of patents.
Having sold on their physical devices, Nokia is now free to ruthlessly pursue anybody they feel is “infringing” those patents without worrying about counter attacks against their own technologies. Licensing the patents to Microsoft but keeping the patents themselves in hand, Nokia is left as a potentially very unpleasant patent troll, presumably seeking to harass Microsoft’s rivals. For the full story, see Simon’s InfoWorld article.
Open Invention Network is a novel company formed to operate patent defenses for open source developers. It owns a portfolio of patents relevant to key open source technologies, runs a defensive publication scheme and operates a patent cross-licensing network of well over 500 companies. I’m pleased to announce that Meshed Insights has joined the Open Invention Network as a licensee in that network. This move both demonstrates our commitment to minimising patent risks throughout the open source community and also offers us some protection against patent aggression.
We have also reached an agreement with OIN to represent them at mutually agreed events and to assist clients in themselves becoming Open Invention Network licensees. If you are interested in becoming a licensee, which you most likely will be able to do free of charge, please contact us.