Android is a target for lawsuits

It looks like everyone is after the Android with a lawsuit or patent issue. The Wall Street Journal reports that Android is a target of continues litigation from Apple, Oracle, and Microsoft. We asked our Zintro experts to share what they think the main issues are.

Saqib Dareshani, an expert in mobile application development services, says that the main issue for Apple is market share. “Apple is worried the Galaxy series is doing extremely well and in some aspects surpasses the iPhone, such as Galaxy’s 4G technology LTE versus iPhone’s 3G. Touch screen smartphones were once an exclusive device from Apple with a groundbreaking UI in 2007. Now, it’s a commodity as the innovations are incremental, and this has allowed competitors to catch up and even thrive,” he says. “The thought process Apple fears is: why am I buying Apple when Samsung does the exact same thing (if not better)? That day is closer than most people would think – in some respects, it’s already here.”

Dareshani thinks that for Microsoft, market share is less of an issue because it has virtually none. “What Microsoft is interested in is royalty payments for patent infringements. In fact, Microsoft and HTC entered a patent licensing deal where HTC would pay Microsoft royalties. As well, a Google lawyer said recently that Microsoft’s Windows 7 phone is failing, which is why they are suing Android: to make money on world-wide smartphone boom without relying exclusively on their phone sales,” he says.

Robert Harrison, an intellectual property lawyer, says that there are two issues: one is the ultimate market share in smartphones for Apple, Microsoft, or Google/Android. The second is the amount of licensing fees payable to the patent holders. It’s not about the traditional role of patents, which are to prevent competitors from making a similar product.

“In effect, it is about the role that patented technology can have in standards, either the mobile telecommunications standards that are set by semi-official bodies or the de facto standards, such as Java,” notes Harrison. “The standards bodies in mobile telecommunications have a clear policy: a company may patent its technology but if it participates in the standards-setting process, then it has to give a license on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms (so-called FRAND conditions). There has been a land grab by traditional companies in the telecom field (e.g. Nokia, Ericsson) for relevant patents. Other companies are catching up and each needs to use the other’s technology. But how much is it going to cost? There really is no definition of FRAND and the levels will differ on each company’s own patent holdings.”

Harrison says that with ORACLE the issue is the patents behind the JAVA system. He says that this standard is not an official one, but has been widely adopted. Oracle is using the patents to either gain access to other’s technology or to obtain revenue.

Anita M, a business development professional, says that she is against patenting software and that patenting gestures and UI elements is simply absurd. “If you look at the history of software, each company has built upon what some other company has started. Oracle was not the first relational database; Microsoft heavily copied the original UI for windows from Apple; and the Android UI and form factor is clearly very similar to that of an iPhone,” she says. “I believe most of these lawsuits are frivolous and should be thrown out.”


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