Home A Big Google Problem: 37 Android Related Patent Disputes [Infographic]

A Big Google Problem: 37 Android Related Patent Disputes [Infographic]

The number of patent lawsuits related to the Android operating system is unprecedented. Never has an operating system had so many challenges to its intellectual property in such a short time period as the Google operating system has had in the last year.

As Florian Mueller points out, the latest Android lawsuit comes from Microsoft, which has sued Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec. That’s just one to consider among the 36 others that Mueller highlights in an accompanying infographic that well conveys the complexities that come when facing such a barrage of challenges.

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The lawsuits point to a simmering issue. And that’s concerning the questions that are coming up about Google’s licensing practices.

Mueller writes that for Google it could be a spell for trouble:

In my previous blog post I raised the question of whether Google manages intellectual property matters diligently and respects right holders. For example, the way Google habitually “launders” software published under the GPL (open source license) for its purposes baffles me. The relevant version of the GPL — GPLv2 — has been around since the early 1990s, and Google is the first commercial operator to believe that a program can just cut out the copyrightable parts and deprive GPL’d software of all protection. A company that treates copyright this way — also according to Oracle’s allegations — may be similarly arrogant and reckless when patents are concerned. Google just exposes its entire ecosystem to legal risks. If it goes well, Google reaps most of the rewards. If it doesn’t, others will have to pick up most of the bill.

The potential issues are just too numerous to consider in their entirety but do read up about the Google GPL licenses if you get the time. Google spreads its technology with these licenses throughout its entire application environment.

This is not the end but the beginning of what we expect will be an even longer trail of lawsuits that relate to the Android operating system. The outcomes will be defining for Google and will test its strength as a technology giant. Barned & Noble’s involvement is just the latest twist.

But it is also in line with the complexities that Google and other technology companies face with their media counterparts over the future of such devices such as the Samsung Galaxy and the HTC line of smartphones that Apple is challenging. It’s a struggle for relevance in the mobile age. The fight for a place in the market will continue to boil up patent disputes but also plenty of copyright matters, too.

But the lawsuits will also do something else. They will test the courts and how it treats patent disputes that affect millions of people. In the meantime, we’ll see how many of these disputes settle before even getting to trial.

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