Patent Evil
Written by Sue Gee   
Sunday, 09 October 2011

MBA Online has produced an Infographic that looks at the horrific situation of patent lawsuits and makes the argument that software patents should end.



Patents have troubled the computer industry - both hardware and software - as far back as any of us can remember. And the situation is becoming worse at a rate that is alarming. At the moment it is the mobile/smartphone environment that is where most  patent infringement litigation is taking place and you only have to scan the list of posts on Florian Mueller's FOSS patents site, which covers software patent news and issues with a particular focus on wireless, mobile devices, to discover just how much is going on.

Click Infographic to enlarge Use close button at top right to restore.


Created by: MBA Online


Currently the most high profile case is Oracle v Google over specific Android patents. Although there is a large doubt as to whether the trial will go ahead on October 31st (because of an unrelated trial's postponement) many of the pre-trial formalities have happened and both sides have submitted their lists of witnesses. We now know that not only will Oracle's Larry Ellison and Google's Larry Page will take the stand but so will former Sun Microsystem's Eric Schmidt (now Google's Chairman), Scott McNealy and James Gosling, who is the inventor of one of the patents involved in the lawsuit.

While the outcome of this trial is going to be important it isn't likely to have much of a long term impact on mobile development - as we've commented before it's mostly about money and either party can likely afford to pay up. Similarly with the many of the other large companies caught up in "Mobile Patent Nexus" illustrated in the Infographic. Huge amounts of money is going to lawyers rather than to developers, but companies are not going out of business.




However it isn't just the big corporations that are involved and when small companies get caught up in lawsuits the consequences are much worse. Patent troll Lodsys, which holds four patents relating to in-app purchases, interactive online ads, online help and subscription renewals that it bought from the original inventor whose patent was granted in 1999, has been aggressively pursuing its rights in a way that has caused great concern in the ranks of mobile software developers.

More information:

FOSS Patents

Related articles on I Programmer:

Oracle sues Google for Android Java use

Patent Office ruling reduces Oracle's case against Google

Oracle v Google - it's just about money

More Patent Problems for Android devs

Patent troll or paper tiger 


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