Thursday, October 6, 2011

Google sues itself, more or less

This is an interesting twist, a Google-backed "non-practicing entity" patent holder suing Motorola, which Google is currently trying to acquire. In the current environment, where big companies build up big portfolios of patents to deter infringement, it seems to me that it's a real advantage to be a non-practicing entity so that you're immune to that defence. You can't be countersued for the patents your own products infringe, because you don't have any products. So ultimately its a win for pure parasitism over anyone actually trying to produce something.

The last few years I've been involved with a few different patent lawsuits where things that were done years ago in TOPLink or in Smalltalk might serve as prior art. When you talk to the lawyers they're generally quite open about the brokenness in the current patent system, but until something changes what can you do but play along and charge lots of money for doing so.