Why Steve Jobs Is Right about Android

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Apple Patents are Too Broad

Again, perhaps. Like the previous issue, though, even if this is true it'ss irrelevant. Apple was awarded the patents. I agree that the patent system is damaged and that things have gotten out of hand. I agree that some of the patents I've seen awarded to Apple seem a tad ridiculous.

However, regardless of my opinion--or yours--Apple does hold these patents, and has the legal grounds to defend them. If you feel that Apple patents being applied against Android are too broad, take that issue up with your lawmakers and fix the patent system, but it doesn't materially change the legal case Apple has against Android device makers.

Whether or not Jobs was vindictive is irrelevant to patent law.
Steve Jobs Was Just Being a Petty Tyrant

Once again, perhaps. We're three for three on issues that may be true, yet have no bearing on the legalities of the patent infringement case.

The fact that Steve Jobs pledged to vigorously defend iOS and Apple patents against theft by Google and Android seems perfectly normal. That it also seems borne out of a sense of vengeance over the personal betrayal he felt from Eric Schmidt doesn't change patent law or the merits of Apple's case.

Granted, it may seem a bit petulant and tyrannical to vow to bankrupt Apple if necessary to crush Android. But, if your number one competitor--one that has surpassed you in the smartphone arena and possibly siphoned billions of dollars in revenue that might have gone to iOS--is built on ideas stolen from you, it seems quite reasonable.

Android Doesn't Infringe on Patents

This is honestly the only argument that matters from a legal perspective, and it is for the legal system to decide. So far, though, it would seem that Android--or at least the devices built on the Android OS--do, in fact, infringe on patents held by others.

As of a couple days ago, Microsoft has entered into ten 10 different licensing agreements with various manufacturers of Android devices. Microsoft now makes money on 55 percent of the Android devices sold around the world, and it continues to pursue licensing arrangements with the remaining 45 percent.

Among the ten Microsoft licensees are both HTC and Samsung--two of the biggest Android smartphone and tablet vendors, and primary targets of Apple. HTC and Samsung have already conceded that their Android devices violate patents--at least Microsoft's. It seems fair to assume that HTC and Samsung would also be willing to enter into licensing agreements with Apple, but Apple is not interested--at all.

You could also still presume that Android doesn't infringe on Apple patents. Just because it might borrow from concepts patented by Microsoft doesn't mean it also violates Apple patents. So far, though, the courts around the world seem to disagree.

Apple has won preliminary injunctions against Samsung devices in Europe and Australia. HTC has been handed major setbacks from the United States International Trade Commission. HTC, Samsung, and Motorola--which has since been acquired by Google itself--have all countersued Apple claiming patent infringements of their own. But, so far it seems those patent allegations lack the merit of the Apple patent infringement allegations.

It is true that all of technology is built on the shoulders of the technologies that came before it. It is very difficult to claim a truly unique concept that doesn't rely in whole or part on the ideas of others. But, the patent systems around the world are what they are, and based on the legal realities of the patents that Apple holds, it does seem there is a very good chance that Android violates at least some of them.

Regardless of your opinion of Apple or Steve Jobs, the courts will decide based on the legal merits of the patent cases presented, and then we'll know whether Steve Jobs was right.

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