Software Patent Supporter Tries To Pretend Google Harmed Without Software Patents
from the nice-try,-but...-no. dept
There’s a somewhat bizarre and ethically questionable post up on the usually excellent Patently-O blog, hyping up the fact that Google may lose its patent on PageRank (which Google only holds a license to, since Stanford actually owns it). First off, this isn’t new or particularly surprising. It’s talking about the upcoming decision on the Bilski case, which we’ve discussed at length. The decision could impact all software patents, and the author is merely using the Google name to get extra attention.
Even worse, it’s misguided attention. Google is hardly a massive patent shop. It does get patents, but has rarely (if ever?) enforced them. And the idea that Google’s success is somehow predicated on its patents is pretty ludicrous. Independent studies have shown, repeatedly, that Yahoo and Microsoft’s search technology is just as good, if not better than Google’s. But people use Google because they trust Google and are comfortable using it. Google has built up a reputation — and that has nothing to do with its patents. If Google lost all of its patents today, it would have little to no impact on Google’s position in the market. If anything, it might help Google, as it would also probably end a bunch of the silly patent lawsuits that have been filed against Google.
Finally, the post is ethically questionable, as its author, John Duffy, was hired by a software company, RDC, to write an amicus brief in the Bilski case pushing for the position that software should remain patentable. This is not disclosed in the post. In other words, he’s clearly biased in favor of making sure that the end result of Bilski is that software patents remain in tact, and a little publicity campaign, stirred up by misleading claims that everyone’s beloved Google will somehow be harmed could help push public sentiment towards allowing software patents.