Google and Oracle have been fighting over certain patent disputes for a while, and when Oracle came out the loser, Google lawyer Kent Walker cynically — but perhaps not incorrectly — told Ars Technica, “People are treating patents like lottery tickets.”
In a six-week trial, Oracle went after Google for some patent infringements over the structure of certain Java APIs but, alas, it didn’t stick (Judge William Alsup declared “So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API”). It represents a pretty substantial kick in the gut for Oracle, who spent millions on this suit, which was intended to grab them a share of the smartphone market that they really have no horse in.
Walker spoke to Ars and addressed the question of patents and how they are becoming less of a protection for ideas and more of a method by which someone can try their luck at slicing a helping of cash off of a big company:
[quote]In the company versus company context, there’s also an increase in the number of claims being made, in part because there are so many software patents. You’ve seen the report from RPX that there are over 250,000 patents in the smartphone. There’s a lot of opportunity for mischief—problems that create costs for everyone in the system.[/quote]
This is an era in which patent suits are rife; we’ve reported on Apple vs. Samsung and Samsung vs. Apple and lots of people vs. Google. In this day and age, the term “Patent Troll” has been coined to describe an opportunist who positions himself only to make money from lawsuits and not actual ideas (Tim Langdell being one of the most well-known). It’s obvious, however, that the behavior can be just as common among major corporations who are attempting to decimate or speed-bump competitors. Again: Not really what patents were intended for.
Source: Ars Technica