First things first. In the 15 pages of Google's letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee there's no mention at all of Apple's touchscreen patents being a "de-facto standard". In fact there's no mention of ANY Apple technology being applicable in ANY way.
Google specifically mentions Active-Sync, a Microsoft product they're being sued over, as well as FAT, another MS development often used in litigation as examples. If you bother reading the letter itself rather than the "explanation" of it by AI, Google's thrust is clearly aimed at Microsoft, with Nokia a secondary subject. Apple barely gets a mention, garnering a comment in just 5 paragraphs in the entire 15 page letter, and none of them in regard to Apple-held IP. The touchscreen-is-de-facto-standard claim is one made up by an AllThingsD editor and repeated by AI, not anything said by Google.
It looks to me as tho AllThingsD, along with AI, was deflecting attention from Microsoft by planting the idea that Google's letter was unfairly arguing some of Apple's iPhone technologies should be standards, and nothing else of interest was written. The problem that AllthingsD has is Google themselves doesn't make that argument. There's a few reasons I can think of for AllThingsD and/or AI to invent a storyline, and none of them would involve non-biased reporting of the facts IMO.
In my opinion one of the two most likely reasons (the other being a simple effort to attract eyeballs) is to introduce a strawman so as to keep the focus squarely on Google rather than the arguments Google actually puts forth:
- RAND standards and royalties claimed by Nokia and MS
- "de-facto standard" patents (ie Active-sync) asserted by Microsoft
- Possible intent by MS and/or Apple to avoid negotiating a fair IP royalty.
- Royalty stacking on essential patents by Nokia.
- Loaning standards-essential IP to Non-Practicing Entities's (some call them patent trolls)
The last one is particularly interesting. It was reported by a few blogs months ago that MOSAID (and their affiliated company Core Wireless) had acquired 1200-odd (F)RAND-pledged patents and 800 or so other assorted pieces of IP from Nokia/Microsoft.
What barely got mentioned was that the transfer wasn't a "sale" as such, with MS/Nokia retaining ultimate control of those standards patents. According to Canadian financial filings by MOSAID they can be taken back and placed for enforcement with a 3rd party if MOSAID fails to provide an adequate return to MS/Nokia in shared royalties, or otherwise fails to aggressively enforce those patents.
In essence they're on loan to MOSAID as long as they supply MS/Nokia a revenue stream meeting contractual revenue commitments. IMHO it's much more aggregious tho in the same vein as Google "transferring" patents to HTC as a defensive answer to Apple's suits.
Google says another Nokia and Microsoft benefit to that group of patents "loaned" to MOSAID is it allows another royalty stream from IP already pledged to Nokia RAND-standards licensees for a net 2% of the finished device price. Essentially the royalty could now double that or more for the standards package licensee's thought they had licensed from Nokia, but now with some essential IP to be asserted by MOSAID in new royalty-bearing license negotiations and lawsuits if needed. Believe it or not even Apple is a lawsuit target for those "loaned" standards patents.
Perhaps there's a defensive suspension clause in the Nokia/Apple license agreement that might prevent Apple from using the Nokia RAND patent license agreed to just a few months ago in the MOSAID infringement claims against them now. Or maybe it's just not in Apple's interest to raise a stink about it for the time being, with Google and Android the more immediate problem. Perhaps better to avoid creating a distraction by getting into another public argument with Nokia and by extension their partner Microsoft. Even die-hard Apple fans must wonder why Tim Cook wouldn't mention Nokia going for another bite of the Apple.
In any case, Google never wrote that ANY Apple IP should be considered as commercially essential or part of any other real or de-facto standard. IMHO it's a created strawman talking point that's meant to distract from the real discussion of what Google considers Microsoft's disingenuous arguments regarding RAND IP, along with some of the things going on behind the scenes that goes unreported. If you follow FOSSPatents or AI you've already heard plenty about Microsoft and Apple's letters and complaints. This might be the very first time some here have ever heard the other side of the story. Of course that would assume you're willing to hear it. I imagine some already had their receptors turned off and minds made up as soon as Google was mentioned.
I heartily recommend reading the Google letter for yourselves, as well as any of the links in the document that interest you. It should be immediately obvious the letter wasn't all about Apple. For some reason that the AI/ATD writers found beneficial, there's no mention at all of the real points made in Google's letter to the Senate committee. Read it and then make up your own mind whether Google has any valid points that should be addressed rather than being pointed in a certain direction by writers with an agenda that may be less than clear. None of us are very good at avoiding all bias, so better to arm yourself with points from both sides of the argument if you want to get closer to the truth.
Edited by Gatorguy - 7/23/12 at 8:47pm