Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

Paul Allen: Gunning for Google

December 29, 2010: 8:18 AM ET

An analysis of his latest suit suggests Android's maker has more to fear than Apple does

Paul Allen. Photo: Sharon Chan via Wikimedia

FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller, whose judgment I've come to trust when it comes to high-tech intellectual property disputes, makes two interesting points about the patent infringement suit Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen refiled Tuesday against nearly a dozen companies, including Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), eBay (EBAY), Facebook, Yahoo (YHOO), Netflix (NFLX) and AOL (AOL).

  • First, that those who originally disparaged Allen's suit as a patent troll were also too quick to treat its dismissal on Dec. 10 as the end of the story. As Mueller points out in an item posted Wednesday, such suits are often sent back for revision. The fact that a judge asked for more detail is unrelated to the merits of the case.
  • Second, the amended suit makes a number of infringement allegations against Google that strike at the heart of the Android operating system. "If any of those infringement assertions against Android is true," Mueller writes, "this can spell trouble for makers of Android-based devices, and for Android application developers."

By contrast, the portions of the suit that are about Apple don't mention iOS -- the operating system that runs the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV. They relate, according to Mueller, to the Mac Dashboard and to content recommendations provided by iTunes, the App Store and Apple TV.

Below the fold: Excerpts from the Android portion of the complaint filed Tuesday by Allen's Interval Licensing.

44. Defendant Google has infringed and continues to infringe at least claims 4, 8, 11, 15, 16, 17, and 18 of the '652 patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271 by making, using, selling, distributing, and encouraging customers to use devices containing the Android Operating System and associated software such as Text Messaging, Google Talk, Google Voice, and Calendar. Devices containing the Android Operating System and associated software infringe by displaying information including, e.g., text messages, Google Voice messages, chat messages, and calendar events, to a user of a mobile device in an unobtrusive manner that occupies the peripheral attention of the user. For example, as demonstrated by Exhibit 24, when a user receives a new Google Voice message, the Android Operating System and Google Voice software display a notification in the status bar screen for a short period of time.

54. Defendant Google has infringed and continues to infringe at least claims 1, 3, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, and 15 of the '314 patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271 by making, using, selling, distributing, and encouraging customers to use devices containing the Android Operating System and associated software such as Text Messaging, Google Talk, Google Voice, and Calendar, and by making and using the hardware and software that operate the Android and Android Market infrastructure. Google's infringement of the '314 patent that relates to Android results from substantially the same activities as its infringement of the '652 patent, described above in [paragraph] 44.

One last thought. What is it with these ex-Microsoft (MSFT) execs and their patent suits? Nathan Myhrvold, former chief technology officer at Microsoft, has applied for more than 500 patents through a company called Intellectual Ventures that is pursing a business model based on suing companies that refuse to license them.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

Join the Conversation
About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

Email | @philiped | RSS
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by WordPress.com VIP.