Business piracy

Who will sue who next?

Good old BT has stepped into the litigation fray and is suing Google for patent infringement. Yay. It doesn’t seem like yesterday that BT was in court trying to extract cash from US ISP Prodigy over its use of HTTP links.

What a world this is becoming. I recognise that Intellectual Property needs protection but it does seem at times that the feeding frenzy is doing nobody any good other than a global community of lawyers .

You can almost picture the scene, the birds of prey (legal eagles),  hovering at a safe distance, kept aloft by the thermal currents rising from the technology battlefield below.  If anyone wants to draw me a cartoon depicting this I will stick it in this post 🙂

It would be interesting to see how much the average price of a smart phone is driven up by the overhead incurred in legal fees spent defending patent litigation.

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

3 replies on “Who will sue who next?”

I would love to see the legal system introduce some kind of buffer that meant companies would have to put up some substantial sum of money up front before beginning legal action. I realise that I am indulging in naive wishful thinking but it does hack me off that the cost of my next gadget will cost substantially more because of some minor infringement in a patent lodged god knows how many years ago.

BT (in my world BT stands for Bleedin’ Tossers) are one of my least favourite corporates and this sort of protectionism isn’t going to get them back on my Christmas Card list!

An IP system that was designed to make large scale investment in innovation feasible is being perverted. Real multi-million pound and man year investments, developing and making practical inventions that truly move the state of the art forwards do need some kind of protection from someone cloning them once they have been perfected by their original inventor and before that inventor can get a return.
But that isn’t what is happening here, carpet baggers like BT with a whole load of patents that they have put no effort into actually developing technologies around themselves should not be allowed to hold companies that have actually made the investment in real working products to ransom.
From the reporting, these BT patents seem questionable e.g. “Android’s ability to allow a music download if a smartphone is connected to a wi-fi network, but to prevent it when the device only has access to a 3G data link” so this basically is have the app layer take into account network layer characteristics when deciding which services to offer which it seems to me:
a) is so blinking obvious that there really isn’t any innovation, it must have taken someone whole 2-mins to come up with that one
b) must have more prior art than you can shake a stick at

The patent system is broken and, whilst this kind of nonsense helps to highlight it, there really should be some sort of criminal offence along the lines of “bringing the patent system into disrepute by opportunistic assertion of a ludicrous patents”. Instead Google will probably pay them a few $m to go away because it is cheaper than playing judicial dice and more of this sort of thing will thereby be encouraged. Depressing!

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