Open source community 'hopelessly confused' by Apple-HTC suit

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Analyst Charlie Wolf with Needham & Company said Friday he believes the open source community, which has backed Google's Android mobile operating system against the iPhone, has the wrong take on Apple's patent lawsuit against rival handset maker HTC.



Wolf, in a new note to investors, said the open source community is "hopelessly confused." He said the open source movement came from the academic community, where ideas are freely exchanged. But things don't work like that in the business world.



"There's a critical difference between the free exchange of ideas and the free exchange of software," Wolf said. "In the academic world, the entire value of an idea accrues to its author in the form of reputation, citations, invitations to speak at conferences, and possibly an appointment at a prestigious university. In the open source world, no value accrues to the writer of a particular piece of software."



Wolf said although some have suggested Apple's lawsuit with HTC comes directly from Steve Jobs, he doesn't believe that's the case.



"The lawsuit is not about psychology," he wrote. "It's about economics. Apple has every right to sue to protect its intellectual property. That's what our patent system is all about."



Earlier this month, Apple sued HTC, alleging that the smartphone manufacturer has been in violation of 20 iPhone-related patents relating to user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. The complaint, filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission, has asked for sales and importation of all HTC handsets in the U.S. to be halted.



Apple's lawsuit specifically mentions the Google Android mobile operating system, and lists a number of Android-powered handsets, including the Nexus One and myTouch 3G. Some Windows Mobile smartphones were also named in the suit, but were targeted for their use of digital signal processing hardware decoders.



Google has come out in defense of its partner HTC, stating that the search giant stands behind the Android operating system "and the partners who have helped us to develop it." Wolf has previously said he believes Apple has better than 50-50 odds of coming out victorious in its suit against HTC.



Similarly, analyst Shaw Wu with Kaufman Bros. previously said he believes Apple's "very large war chest" will likely force some competitors to either take out features or pay royalties to the iPhone maker in order to use patented technologies such as multi-touch.
«134567

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 126
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,729member
    Apple knew this was coming. They made it clear when SJ introduced the original iPhone, warning that they were going all out to protect their ip. I suspect they had the iPad in sight and saw where this was all headed. Or at least hoped it would.
  • Reply 2 of 126
    boogabooga Posts: 1,082member
    "The open-source community" is a pretty broad brush. Is this the same "open source community" that has made Apple's WebKit the standard browser for virtually all mobile devices?
  • Reply 3 of 126
    igeniusigenius Posts: 1,240member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    "There's a critical difference between the free exchange of ideas and the free exchange of software," Wolf said. "In the academic world, the entire value of an idea accrues to its author in the form of reputation, citations, invitations to speak at conferences, and possibly an appointment at a prestigious university. In the open source world, no value accrues to the writer of a particular piece of software."






    Well, perhaps nothing except reputation, citations, invitations to speak at conferences, and possibly a lucrative job offer.



    Ask Torvalds whether "no value accrued" to him.
  • Reply 4 of 126
    surursurur Posts: 23member
    Just look at these patents below from Engadget's list. I am sure these patents cover desktop Linux just as much as Android. The Open Source community should be even more concerned than they are, because this is the most open attack on open source operating systems ever, with the biggest collection of patents.



    Its not all about Slide to Unlock.



    Like I said, check out the collection below. There are some very serious patents here which cover how an GUI and OS work, and seem to have nearly nothing to do with phones.





    Quote:

    Patent #5,455,599: Object-Oriented Graphic System



    This is the oldest patent of the bunch, issued in 1995. (You can really get a sense for how Apple's counsel has changed the way it writes patents over time by reading all of these, by the way. The older ones are really quite terse.) Again, it's technical to the point where we don't feel comfortable saying exactly what it means, but it covers building graphics objects with a processor and outputting them through various means. Given the fact that this predates Steve Jobs' return to Apple, we'd say this one was thrown in because Apple's lawyers think it's particularly strong, not because it has something to do with phones specifically.



    Patent #6,424,354: Object-Oriented Event Notification System With Listener Registration Of Both Interests And Methods



    This one is actually quite interesting: it's from 2002 and is illustrated with drawing from Mac OS 9, but it covers event notifications passed among objects -- a system specifically described in the abstract as presenting a context-sensitive menu on the screen. That's very much the core of the Android UI, if you think about it. We don't know exactly what Apple thinks HTC is infringing with this patent, but it's one to keep an eye on, since it could have huge implications.



    Patent #5,481,721: Method for providing automatic and dynamic translation of object oriented programming language-based message passing into operation system message passing using proxy objects



    This one's fun -- it's actually an old NeXT patent from 1996. And we're talking old-school NeXT -- the inventors are listed as Betrand Serlet, Avie Tevanian, and Lee Boynton. Anyway, this one is large, broad, and technical: it covers passing objects in an OS between processes by way of a proxy object. Again, given that this is primarily an OS patent and that Apple claims all of HTC's Android phones infringe it, it's hard to shake the impression that this case is anything but a proxy for a larger fight to come.



    Patents #5,519,867 and #6,275,983: Object Oriented Multitasking System and Object-Oriented Operating System



    Apple lumps these older OS patents together, so we are too. '867 is from 1996 and covers accessing OS level services in a multithreaded way; '983 is from 2001 and describes an OS in which apps can access native system services and those services can make use of data associated with an object. Again, dry, technical -- and totally aimed at Android, not HTC itself.



    Patent #5,566,337: Method and apparatus for distributing events in an operating system



    Another OS patent from 1996, this time relating to passing event notifications between objects -- like changing app behavior based on battery status. If you're not getting that Apple is targeting Android with the ITC case in particular by including low-level patents like these, there's really nothing more we can do. Oh, wait -- we can drop another six patents on your head.



    Patent #5,929,852: Encapsulated network entity reference of a network component system



    This one is also interesting because of it's age -- it's from 1999, and describes a way for users to get at remotely-stored resources more effectively by using software "components" that deal with different data types.



    Patent 5,946,647: System and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data



    Seriously, we're almost impressed at how deeply Apple is pulling here. '647, issued in 1999, is what you might characterize as the "data detectors" patent -- it covers parsing data for known structures like phone numbers, address, and dates, and then taking action with that data. The model described is client / server, though, so it remains to be seen how Android handles similar tasks.



    Patent #5,969,705: Message protocol for controlling a user interface from an inactive application program



    You're going to love this one: '705 is a 1999 patent covering a form of multitasking. Specifically, it hits on the idea that a foreground app can direct a background process to go do some task while the foreground app remains responsive. The actual implementation is a bit more specific, but in the end, it's just another OS patent that's aimed directly at Android. Apple's also claiming this one against Nokia.



    Patent #5,915,131: Method and apparatus for handling I/O requests utilizing separate programming interfaces to access separate I/O service



    A 2002 patent hitting on multiple API usage in operating systems. Guess which Google-designed OS Apple says infringes on this one? Oh, and yes -- Apple's also claiming this one against Nokia.



    Patent #RE39,486: Extensible, replaceable network component system



    This patent was originally issued in 2001 and then reissued in 2007, and it covers -- surprise! -- OS-level software. Specifically, RE '486 covers organizing modular software "components" into a network layer with an API. It's more specific than that, but again, what's important for our purposes here is that this is about low-level software, not devices -- and the HTC devices that Apple says infringe this patent all run low-level software from Google. This is another one that Apple's claiming against Nokia.



  • Reply 5 of 126
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,616member
    Apples lawyers are testing out these patents against HTC to see which will stick. These will then set precedence for taking on bigger fish.
  • Reply 6 of 126
    I wish these analysts would check their facts. None of the patents in the suit regard multi-touch. It's widely believed that Apple's multi-touch patents are weak and wouldn't hold up in court.



    I'd say it's 50/50 that they win and I really hope they don't. This would do more to hurt iPhone OS development than help it. Android is right at Apple's door and it scares the shit out of them. Innovate > Litigate.
  • Reply 7 of 126
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,609member
    I don't think the "OS Community" has a whole lot to worry about with Apple; their goal is to protect their hardware sales... but I do disagree with the comment that this isn't about SJ and psychology. The business psychology is everything in Apple's patent trolling. (And Nokia's, and ...)



    One day... patent reform...
  • Reply 8 of 126
    esummersesummers Posts: 953member
    I think Wolf doesn't understand the open source community (that Apple is of course part of). I personally don't care for the ideas of Richard Stallman, but he doesn't represent the entire open source community. This really is just about business though. Everyone does this. I'm sure this is about a different dispute, the patent battle is just a proxy fight for something else. Sure it is nice to set an example, but is it wrong to play fair? In the movie Aviator (and in real life), Howard Hughes has the court case about him pampering the army officials for contract work. His response was that he would prefer not to, but everyone in the industry does it so he needs to. He said he would support making the practice illegal. If we think the patent system is allowing ideas to be patented or trivial innovations to be patented then our issue should be with the patent system. I'm sure Apple would support it because they are constantly being hit by trivial patents.
  • Reply 9 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Booga View Post


    "The open-source community" is a pretty broad brush. Is this the same "open source community" that has made Apple's WebKit the standard browser for virtually all mobile devices?



    The very same. And maybe that's part of the problem. Apple has released buckets of their IP into the public domain in one way or another, so the "community" got caught off-guard when the company drew a line and said "this far, no further."



    There's an argument to be made that Apple is inconsistent in defending it's IP. They're aggressively protecting iPhone-related IP, but giving away Grand Central Dispatch. I think that, too, is part of what confuses people. There seems to be this notion that Apple is somehow hypocritical because they're both participating in the whole open-source game and aggressively defending their innovations. Cognitive dissonance runs rampant over this, it seems to me.
  • Reply 10 of 126
    quadra 610quadra 610 Posts: 6,757member
    It's a tricky situation. Apple has been quite good to the Open Source community, filtering code back into FreeBSD. In fact, Apple saved FreeBSD and brought it to where it is today. That's just on example, though.
  • Reply 11 of 126
    esummersesummers Posts: 953member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tomfoolery View Post


    The very same. And maybe that's part of the problem. Apple has released buckets of their IP into the public domain in one way or another, so the "community" got caught off-guard when the company drew a line and said "this far, no further."



    There's an argument to be made that Apple is inconsistent in defending it's IP. They're aggressively protecting iPhone-related IP, but giving away Grand Central Dispatch. I think that, too, is part of what confuses people. There seems to be this notion that Apple is somehow hypocritical because they're both participating in the whole open-source game and aggressively defending their innovations. Cognitive dissonance runs rampant over this, it seems to me.



    I agree, that sense of hypocrisy is exactly why so many people are upset over this case. I think that maybe we are looking too deep in this though. Unless this becomes standard practice, maybe we should just give them the benefit of the doubt.
  • Reply 12 of 126
    srangersranger Posts: 473member
    I have thought a lot about this law suit and I finally decided that I am against Apple on this one. While I think they have the right to defend their patents ( I Own a couple of my own), I do not think they have the right to try and destroy cometition with strong arm tactics. The part that gets me is how they went to the ITC and are trying to halt the import of a competors product BEFORE they have their day in court to try and defent their patents. This seem more like extortion than a real claim of damages. Also the fact that they are going after Google through HTC is just wrong. If they have a problem with Google, then go after Google...



    I personally ( not a patent laywer ) think the claims made by Apple are weak, to general and the patnets should never have been granted. I personally do not think they they should hold up in court. I say should because in a cout of law, justice rarely has anything to do with it.



    I do realize that Apple ( or any big company ) could care less about what I think. Last year I switched from a PC and bought a Macbook and liked it. It bought a MacMini for my entertainment center and I liked it as well. I was thinking about buying another MacMini to replace an aging web server. ( I already converted the code to run on Apache ). I was also starting to buy and rent movies through iTunes. In short, I was becoming a fan of Apple.



    However, I do not like what I see Apple doing lately. They seem to be becoming way to much of a control freek company. They seem to be becoming a company that wants to succed through fear and intimidation more than one that wants to succeed through innovation. I personally think they are becoming their own enemy. As a result of this lawsuit I have decided not to buy any more products from Apple. It is my single little (meaningless) vote against what they are doing as a company....
  • Reply 13 of 126
    rot'napplerot'napple Posts: 1,839member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Wolf, in a new note to investors, said the open source community is "hopelessly confused." He said the open source movement came from the academic community, where ideas are freely exchanged. But things don't work like that in the business world.



    "academic community, where ideas are freely exchanged", what's he been smoking! Yeah, ideas freely exchanged as long as they are in concurrence! Try talking about politics or by extension, military necessity and see how long the freely exchange of ideas lasts!





    Quote:

    "There's a critical difference between the free exchange of ideas and the free exchange of software," Wolf said. "In the academic world, the entire value of an idea accrues to its author in the form of reputation, citations, invitations to speak at conferences, and possibly an appointment at a prestigious university. In the open source world, no value accrues to the writer of a particular piece of software.



    This is called the Ivy League "Hoighty Toighty" mentality!
  • Reply 14 of 126
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,854member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aaarrrgggh View Post


    One day... patent reform...



    Patent reform ought not, and never will, be about preventing companies and individuals who are actually innovating and producing products from protecting their IP. Necessary patent reform is about putting an end to the parasitic siphoning off of resources from real companies by those who have no interest in producing anything, but just living off the ingenuity and efforts of others.



    It's not "patent trolling" when you are defending your own tangible products from copycats.
  • Reply 15 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by surur View Post


    Just look at these patents below from Engadget's list. I am sure these patents cover desktop Linux just as much as Android. The Open Source community should be even more concerned than they are, because this is the most open attack on open source operating systems ever, with the biggest collection of patents.



    Its not all about Slide to Unlock.



    Like I said, check out the collection below. There are some very serious patents here which cover how an GUI and OS work, and seem to have nearly nothing to do with phones.



    Thanks for the post, that was interesting.



    Would I be right in my reading of this, which is that the majority of these claims could just as easily be made against Linux? If that's right, why are they not going after say, Ubuntu?
  • Reply 16 of 126
    Quote:

    Wolf, in a new note to investors, said the open source community is "hopelessly confused." He said the open source movement came from the academic community, where ideas are freely exchanged.



    C'mon...people in the open source community are not idiots...they understand when a feature is a rip-off of another product, and they understand intellectual property.
  • Reply 17 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post


    Apples lawyers are testing out these patents against HTC to see which will stick. These will then set precedence for taking on bigger fish.



    Every singlke one of Apples patents fail either the "obviousness" or the "prior art" test. If HTC is smart, they will go to trial (and make sure the venue is not East Texas). Then Apple will pay a lot of money to have their patents overturned.
  • Reply 18 of 126
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post


    Patent reform ought not, and never will, be about preventing companies and individuals who are actually innovating and producing products from protecting their IP. Necessary patent reform is about putting an end to the parasitic siphoning off of resources from real companies by those who have no interest in producing anything, but just living off the ingenuity and efforts of others.



    It's not "patent trolling" when you are defending your own tangible products from copycats.



    I agree. I don't think you should be able to patent a concept that you have no intention of doing anything with.
  • Reply 19 of 126
    OK, I'm a big fan of Apple and they certainly have the right to protect their IP, but most of those patents listed should never have been granted on the basis of either prior art or being totally obvious.



    I'll just take one example, Patent #6,424,354: Object-Oriented Event Notification System With Listener Registration Of Both Interests And Methods. This is nothing more than the Observer design pattern which was one of the patterns detailed in the now famous Design Patterns book by the 'Gang of Four', published in 1994, four years before the patent was applied for and 8 years before it was granted. Given that it appeared in the book in 1994 it was clearly a well known design pattern long before that. So how the hell did the USPTO grant that one??



    Apple is taking existing public domain IP and patenting it as their own ideas. That stinks. However, I realise that Apple is just playing by the system, and the US Patent system, at least as it applies to software, is rotten to the core
  • Reply 20 of 126
    Apple is in a very good position to use their patents (not saying they should, but they are in a great position).



    Their competitors are:



    1) HTC - No patents at all. They will get creamed by Apple.

    2) MOT/NOK - Apple cannot target either one of these. Their patented ideas are probably used in almost every phone. OTOH, with phones becoming more like computers, they can't really beat Apple either, since Apple controls a ton of computer patents.

    3) MS - Again, stalemate. MSFT probably has more patents than Apple, but they wouldn't dare harm Apple in the desktop space (otherwise they will become a complete monopoly again) or any other space, because they don't want to look bad.

    4) Google - Google has a ton of patents, but I doubt even a single one is being infringed upon by Apple. Of all the overlapping spaces that Google and Apple are in, Google has come in much after Apple. The only exception is mobile advertising, but both Google and Apple have acquired companies for this, and not developed property in-house.



    HTC/Google stand no chance against this. While the Tech sector finds this distasteful, this is a fantastic business move by Apple. And while I disagree with them, I wont hold it against them. Cant blame them for playing by the rules.
Sign In or Register to comment.