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Doug's Mailbag: Patent Chasing

Readers chime in on Microsoft's mad grab for all patents related to Android:

My comment: I am sick and tired of all the patent lawsuits! I do not claim to know anything about patent laws but it seems something is seriously wrong with the process, implementation or enforcement. Can we just get back to creativity and imagination? As soon as a cash cow is spotted all the cowboys come riding in claiming it has its brand on it.
-Alan

We definitely need to revise our patent laws, especially for computers/OS-UI/web/smartphone/tablets/etc. So many of the design choices are intuitive and are not some amazing innovation. Things like the argument of Android using MarketPlace for its apps store. How can that be patented? It's absolutely ridiculous.
-Anonymous

Android is said to be based on Linux.  Linux is covered under the GPL, which requires all derivative work to be free of licensing fees.  This means that any software added to Linux to make Android must be distributable free of licensing fees. 

My questions:

1) Is Google giving away Android, in compliance with the GPL?

2) There was a time when software developers were isolated from the code they wanted to emulate in order to avoid infringement.  Has Google taken these precautions?

3) Has Google applied for patent protection for its Android code?

Clearly, the patent system is broken, and Microsoft is not above inconveniencing a competitor, but, if Microsoft believes its IP has been infringed upon, it has the right to seek relief.
-Marc

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to dbarney@redmondmag.com. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on 10/28/2011 at 1:18 PM


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