And So It's Come To This: Samsung/Google Forced To Degrade Features In Patent Dispute

from the this-benefits-the-public-how? dept

The latest in the ridiculous saga of the patent dispute between Apple and Samsung, which has resulted in Samsung phones and tablets being banned from sale in the US, is that Samsung, with the help of Google, has been pushing out an over-the-air software update to make its phones worse. Yes, the OTA update is designed to take away a feature, in an effort to convince the judge that the phones no longer violate Apple’s patents. The feature in question? The ability to do a single search that covers both the local device and the internet. Because, you know, if Apple had never figured that out, I’m sure no one would have ever thought to search two databases with a single query. Either way, the end result is that the public loses a useful feature, because Apple doesn’t want to compete, and a federal judge seems to think that’s okay.

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Companies: apple, google, samsung

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Comments on “And So It's Come To This: Samsung/Google Forced To Degrade Features In Patent Dispute”

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88 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Microsoft was messing around with global+desktop search back in XP’s early days.

Why the hell would such a painfully obvious feature ever even make it past the postman to the patent office anyway?

Apparently to get a new patent for a really old and obvious software function, one simply needs to introduce a new form factor for computing, a la smartphones and tablets.

My day is coming though. The patent office is breathless with my ‘trapperkeeperPad’ application.

blaktron (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you honestly believe Apple has something to teach Google about search, you’re out of your mind. People have been doing EXACTLY what the patent suggests with shell script aliases since the early 70s, so the fact that Apple, someone who has NEVER researched search seriously can have a patent on something that was being done before they existed DOES say something about the patent system.

Ed C. says:

Re: Re:

You mean like how Apple ripped that feature from Google? Or how the Windows Help app had a similar feature, querying both local and internet help databases?

Or maybe non-exclusive ideas can never be property. When ideas, such as search behavior, can be independently recreated by others who are inevitably faced with the same problem, even thousands of times over, who can claim it as exclusive “property”? And what about all of the others who also have the same idea, even though they create their ideas without any involvement from the self-proclaimed “owner”, the “owner” still gets to claim the ideas of others as their own? Just how can anyone suddenly come into possession of someone else’s “property”, even if they have never touched or seen it before?

The pursuit of spinning ideas into property is a fool’s errand, a madness that never ultimately turns a profit. All the profits from these suits eventually end up being paid out to someone else in another suit. And who has to make up for the all the losses? We, the customers, get stuck with the tab! Billions are wasted every year on these suits, billions that you and I have to pay for in the higher cost. And what do we get for it? Better products or new features? Nope, many of those have to be stripped down or removed to appease someone else.

And no, nowhere does this protect the small inventor. What good is having a patent or two, or even a real working product, when mammoth corporations with war chest of billions of dollars and thousands of patents can merely claim infringement and grind them through years of litigation? In the end, they always have to sellout or be ground into a penniless pulp.

Wally (profile) says:

Usefullness

Given the fact that each time Android updates, your phone slows down a bit because the new updates are meant for newer hardware, I think it would be safe to say there really is no loss. At least Apple can make the hardware run efficiently throughout their systems every time they update., Apple tweaks the interface to fit its what….4 devices. Making it a lot easier to update. The only reason Mike is mad about this is that Apple got it’s way.

Sad Mac says:

Re: Usefullness

It should be noted that inspite of Apple’s only 4 devices, it takes a collective of hundreds of different devices sold to beat any of the competing Apple products. In other words, Google Android isn’t making sales because of the fragmented market they brought upon themselves.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Usefullness

Don’t confuse Uniformity and streamlining, and backward compatibility with Restrictive. Apple had learned this lesson about fragmentation with the Performa series Macintoshes in the mid 1990’s. Too many choices confused their customers got them confused. So Apple had to streamline their product lines. You want restrictions? Try looking at what your carrier does to an iPhone. Ok enough rant. The fact that Apple has 50% of the market share off of 4 devices while google is next inline because of it is mostly a software liscenser. I find it really funny how it takes hundreds of Android models being sold to remotely match that percentage of market share.

Low level hacks through Jailbreaking can be used on all iOS devices, whereas Android users have to have specific rooting methods for specific hardware calls which are unique to each make of devices. iOS users call it Jailbreaking, Android users call it rooting. You can also use one other program to sync your phone to upload things onto your iOS device while not using iTunes. BitTorrent can do it without a Jailbreak. The only restriction you have on a non Jailbroken iOS device is you can’t edit your icons. You can perform low level hardware hacks if you really feel like being bold.

They are both very hackable, it’s just that people on both sides use different terms. That leads the Robot fanbots of Android to think that you cant havk an iOS device. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with that at all, it’s just annoying so many Android ushered are missinformed about Apple’s product lines and why they have very few choices to consumers.

Apple allows you to have custom specs and hardware configurations, but restricts what models are put when to make a uniform, unfragmented niche in their marketing. The way they see it, it keeps things simpler for the consumer. They’ve been like that since the iMac G3, and it has clearly been working out for them well before their patent trolling.

Before anyone remotely accuses me of being an Apple fanboy, let me tell you one thing now. My iOS device has retina display (326dpi 32GB 4th Gen iPod Touch). This allows me to use a magnifying glass so I can see the text better. I use my Droid for phone calls. I have both, and both of them fulfill my needs to communicate with others. In my opinion, I have the best of both worlds according to my needs.

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Usefullness

Okay, first off the fact that it takes multiple Android devices to surpass Apple’s market share is NOT funny. Nor is it done to beat Apple with many. The reason there are a plethora of devices comes down to one simple and rather important factor: Choice. As in 4 phones (per Apple’s model) are all well and good, but guess what? Those 4 are not for everybody. Some might want a keyboard. Some might want something slimmer. Some might want a bigger screen. And so on and so forth. So quite simply, there are more Android phones because people want more choices.

“Low level hacks through Jailbreaking can be used on all iOS devices, whereas Android users have to have specific rooting methods for specific hardware calls which are unique to each make of devices. iOS users call it Jailbreaking, Android users call it rooting. You can also use one other program to sync your phone to upload things onto your iOS device while not using iTunes. BitTorrent can do it without a Jailbreak. The only restriction you have on a non Jailbroken iOS device is you can’t edit your icons. You can perform low level hardware hacks if you really feel like being bold.”

Low level hacks can be used on all iOS devices. However, you neglect the fact that the majority of those hacks are routinely patched by Apple and the fact that as the operating system and hardware progress, such hacks become useless and new ones must be discovered and ONLY THEN can they be used to hack a new device.

In comparison, there is hardly an Android device that isn’t rooted on day one (and as of late, a great many are rooted before they’re even officially released). Also, there are several tools that are useful on the majority of Android devices that are one-click and thus negate the need for “specific rooting methods for specific hardware”. If you haven’t heard of Super-One-Click, well… that wouldn’t surprise me. But it covers most devices. In fact, up until recently it was the go to for most users. There’s also unRevoked (for some of the more popular devices). But without going off, suffice it to say, you are attempting to greatly over exaggerate just how easy it is to root Android devices, and trying to make it seem like people have to learn a variety of methods. Truth be told, as a regular Android device user and person who roots phones for people, you know one method you know them all. Again, I’m simplifying but that’s the gist of it.

“They are both very hackable, it’s just that people on both sides use different terms. That leads the Robot fanbots of Android to think that you cant havk an iOS device. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with that at all, it’s just annoying so many Android ushered are missinformed about Apple’s product lines and why they have very few choices to consumers. “

On that first sentence, we’re agreed. People use different terms and sometimes confuse them. But DO NOT say that it’s Android fanboys alone. The general public has no clue about rooting or jailbreaking and most interchange the terms. Also, I’ve never met any Android user who didn’t know that an iOS device couldn’t be hacked (I should say, Android hacker, not just user). However, what you fail to point out is that just like with Android devices, there are limitations on iOS. Namely basebands. You don’t have the appropriate baseband and you can’t hack your device. End of story. Til someone comes up with a method of either downgrading the baseband or changing it to another (which sometimes results in loss of functionality, GPS being one I’ve seen recently), or just waiting to see if a hack is produced, or doing without completely.

Regarding misinformed (NOTE: the correct spelling of the word), that’s bullshit. You see, you went from almost sounding reasonable (emphasis on ALMOST), to showing true bias. You can’t even have a discussion without hurling insults, calling Android users Robots and whatnot. If you want to be taken seriously, state the facts as they are without the need to insult others. Also, become more informed, because I’m seeing nothing but bias and naivety in your post. Also, most Android users aren’t misinformed about why there are so few choices in Apple’s product lines. It’s simple, Apple wants to control the entire experience. Not in a dictator-like way (although that’s debatable). But as in, they want to keep things as simple and smooth as possible. From the operating system to the hardware configuration, as long as they control it from end to end they can ensure that it meets their standards and they can avoid having to work to fix any problems that come up (as in say graphics drivers and cards not working in this configuration or with that, like Windows PCs).

“Before anyone remotely accuses me of being an Apple fanboy, let me tell you one thing now. My iOS device has retina display (326dpi 32GB 4th Gen iPod Touch). This allows me to use a magnifying glass so I can see the text better. I use my Droid for phone calls. I have both, and both of them fulfill my needs to communicate with others. In my opinion, I have the best of both worlds according to my needs.”

I wouldn’t accuse you of being an Apple fanboy. I know you are. You see, you can’t call people Robots (Android users) and then say, “But I’m not an Apple fanboy.” It defeats itself. You very much are an Apple fanboy. Having a Droid phone DOES NOT automatically make you unbiased/a non-fanboy. I have a Macbook, guess who I’m no fan of? Apple. I received it as a gift and it’s useful for tinkering with to some degree and then taking said experience and knowledge with me to help fix problems on my friend’s Apple computers. In that sense, I’m more of a Windows/Linux fan. As for mobile devices, I prefer Android. But that doesn’t make me an Android fanboy or a Robot. It just means I like choice and freedom. Being essentially forced to use iTunes (and yes, there are other options but at the end of the day the average user does not know about them and thus they are forced to stick with iTunes) to get the most out of a device is ridiculous. But that’s just my opinion. As you said, you have a device from each OS and it works for you. Right on. But please, may I make a suggestion, get a bit more informed on Android before making such post. You can’t say Android users are misinformed when you appear to be so yourself. You also can’t claim to not be a fanboy when using the traditional fanboy insults. You can’t claim to be unbiased when in fact all you’ve done is defend Apple and insult the Android OS, Android devices, and Android users. That’s not unbiased, not even remotely.

Or to put it simply, if you aren’t going to be able to say anything nice and without resorting to insults and misinformation, perhaps it would be best to just avoid articles such as this. I’m not an Apple fan for a variety of reasons, so you know what I do? I don’t read Apple related articles. Not a fan of Android? Avoid the articles and thus avoid sounding like an Apple fanboy when you go off in said articles. Problem solved.

Not an Electronic Rodent says:

Re: Re: Re: Usefullness

And if it was a race, one contestant wouldn’t be allowed to sabotage the others all the time

Oh I dunno… Dick Dastardly always seemed to. If the world is lucky, Apple might meet the same fate each time they cheat. That’s the problem with the current patent system – it encourages companies to be Dick Dastardly because in this game, nice guys don’t win.

james avery says:

Re: Re: Usefullness

Uhmm last time I checked, over 50% of smartphone users have android while only about 20% have ios. So your statement that Google Android isn’t making sales is absolutely retarded. It is apple who is so threatened by android’s success that their only means of attempting to slow them down is by suing them.

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: Usefullness

I’m just going to point out, yet again, that you obviously have no idea what you’re talking about. My 2 year old, now discontinued, Nexus S 4G can run the latest version of Android (4.0.4) just fine. It will also run Jelly Bean (4.1) as soon as it’s released (although it’s capable of booting it just fine now, with some problems arising from shoddy ports).

As I’ve said before, you don’t appear to have ever used an Android device. Heck, there are G2 phones running Ice Cream Sandwich. Do you know how old the G2 is? The Nexus One, considered the grandfather of Android phones is capable of running Ice Cream Sandwich, and well.

If the new updates were truly meant for newer hardware, there would not be old phones running the newest versions. And truth be told, if they didn’t run well people wouldn’t port them or produce new ROMs from the source code. It’s a fact. People want stability and performance. If it won’t work, people won’t run it. Which shoots down the belief “newer hardware” bit you wrote.

Wally, no offense, but maybe you should just stick to praising Apple and stop trying to knock Android. You’re misinformation campaign is laughable and you never even seem to come close to stating anything that is actually based on fact. And I’m saying that as a Macbook/iPod owner, and overall tech fanatic. I also own a Dell desktop, Toshiba and Compaq laptops, a Nook Color (which runs a modified by B&N version of Android, but I also run Cyanogenmod 7.2 off a micro sdcard when I feel like it), and, my again now discontinued, Nexus S 4G (which is 2 years old and running the latest widely available version of the OS, 4.0.4, as smoothly as is possible, and in a manner that puts some newer and more powerful phones to shame). Just listing all that to show how unbiased I am. I own and use it all.

Oh, one more question, how’s iOS 5 run on the original iPhone? That’s what I thought. That too shoots down your “your phone slows down a bit because the new updates are meant for newer hardware” jab at Android. Until I can see an original iPhone running iOS 5 (and note, it is called iOS 5, the 5.1.1 is an incremental update to the OS, but it is still called iOS 5… for an Apple fan, notice I didn’t say fanboy, you can’t even get the simple stuff right) I would hold off on making such petty remarks about newer slow down and newer updates only being for newer hardware.

Andrew F (profile) says:

Patent = No Competition

I think you’re being a little too hard on the judge Mike. The whole point of a patent is that you don’t have to compete. With the exception of FRAND patents, it’s difficult to quantify the “damages” incurred from competition. Hence, injunctions banning competition.

That’s not to say the patent itself was valid (or should be valid) or that Samsung was infringing. But I wouldn’t chalk up the injunction itself as a crazy-activist-judge-ruling.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Patent = No Competition

If the patent office denies a patent the patent applicant can appeal the denial. Such an appeal is a(n) (expensive) hassle for the patent office to undergo and could potentially result in the denial being overturned (and that has happened before in the case of software patents). So sometimes the patent office grants patents based on judicial history because doing so is safer. As a result, the judge also shares blame when bad patents are upheld. That’s not to say the patent office and the rest of the system isn’t to blame at all, but the judge is also to blame.

David Kastrup says:

Re: Patent = No Competition

The point of patents is to have an advantage over competition in the form of license fees iff we are talking about an invention that is so unlikely to be independently discovered that giving an incentive in the form of time-limited licensing fees to the inventor is for the common good of both inventor and licensees.

If the principal purpose of a patent search is not finding things that would be good to use, but rather finding things that would be good to avoid, the system is doing just the opposite of what it was supposed to do and should be shut down.

A Guy (profile) says:

Google Will Still Win (for better or worse)

Well, if this bit of code was open sourced at any point, ordinary users could just distribute an app to replace the functionality.

More advanced users could reflash their device to include the code that was removed.

All an open source model needs is one patent to completely remove functionality from a closed source, walled garden, model permanently. A closed source, walled garden, model needs complete control over all communication to and from the open source device to remove the functionality. Apple cannot win this fight.

Gomi No Sensei says:

k.

Alright, first, to all you fanboys out there, apple has not innovated anything since the iphone came out. They’ve added incremental improvements, most of which they pushed out because another OS had them, and Apple didn’t want to be left behind (at least not for more than a year, after which you’re expected to buy a new iDevice for the new iOS anyways). Google doesn’t seem to be interested in suing people to protect themselves, they buy patents to protect themselves, then they defend themselves, which takes away resources that could be used for more innovation (on both sides).

Why is this happening now? Apple has a ton of money, and are afraid they’ll start losing it like they’re losing market share, so rather than compete, they try and take away our choice, to turn us into sheep, like the iFanBoys. The difference between iFanBoys and Google fanboys? Choice. Google fans CHOOSE to be fans of Google, because that doesn’t LIMIT their choices, it increases them, which is the opposite of Apple fanboys. Think about it.

Btw, didn’t Google have a desktop search product, which would search your large device for files, as well as the internet? Way before Apple even announced a mobile communications product?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: k.

Complete bullshit. And even if it were true, it would have happened too far back in time to still be covered by a software patent.

Just because Apple had a search function on their OS doesn’t mean they own the right to all search functions until the end of time. I doubt you can find a single engineer who worked for Apple back then who would think otherwise.

anon says:

tired now...

This is rubbish , Apple has copied others work from day 1, they have taken ideas others have had and stolen them, literally by getting patents by muddying the water with lawyer talk. If anything Apple is the biggest patent thief in existence and Jobs even admitted that himself. To stop all of this nonsense Microsoft needs to jump into the courts with android, but from what i have seen Microsoft and Apple are trying to put the pressure on android as they are a totally new OS that neither want to compete with, why.. because android is very innovative, they do not have a five year plan, they release new tech in phones and software almost every 3 months whereas apple and Microsoft plan on major updates every few years.

Apple is really not doing much new in the phone arena, yes now they are updating with a few features android has been using for a while but there is nothing groundbreaking, i was in a phone shop today and had a look at the iphone, it looks boxy and not very comfortable to hold compared to many others , yes it was popular and still is , but if anyone using an iphone had to just try holding and using some of the great phones in the market they would drop apple like a hot coal.

Microsoft is the one to watch over the next few years, they know what people want and they do there best to give them it, an open system where almost anyone can develop an app. Yes you have problems with poor apps but over time the better apps stand out from the poor, and if Microsoft can give just enough control to devs they can prevent one app from crashing the full phone.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: tired now...

And they stole most of their computer ideas from the makers of other personal computers at the time.

You’re acting as if Apple is a saint who has never violated our absurd patent law and the sheer number of patent cases brought against it would clue you in that it isn’t possible to make a useful product anymore without violating some ridiculous patent. You can keep shoving your head in the sand because Apple is clearly your god, but don’t act high and mighty when people call you the moron that you are.

Gabriel says:

Re: Re:

apple does not cross license their patents. Also, software patents are ridiculous. I can copy lots of iOS or android features with little effort. That makes the patent obvious to implement/redesign.

Patenting ideas and concepts is a bad thing. Nobody should get a patent just because they were the first to apply for one. As it happens, there are 7 billion of us. I guarantee you that there are people around the world coming to the same conclusion.

I would grant a patent for unique non-obvious work, but for “slide to unlock”…. I would have laughed them out of the patent office if they came to me with that crap.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

[quote]Or Google wants the patented feature for free. Why don’t they license it?[/quote]

Because it’s an obvious software application that have been used since the 90’s that every modern OS has.

There are legions of patent lawyers at Apple just pouring through Android’s source code looking for minor infractions to go ballistic over. It’s hard to say the standard “THEY ARE JUST STUPID FREELOADING FREETARDS WHO NEED TO PONY UP THE CASH AND NOT KEEP HITLERING OUR FREEDUMBZ” or whatever worthless drivel you maximalists continue to spew when we’re seeing patents on applications that exist in the majority of Computer Science textbooks dating back to the 80’s.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

why should Google license something they invented on the desktop but Apple claims ownership over for the mobile phone? The only innovation on Apple’s part is seeing an opportunity to steal the original idea for free and then claim it as their own for the mobile phone and then prevent the inventors from using their original idea on the phone.

Jeremy says:

Re: Re: Re:

Hrm, if I am a fanboy of competition among electronics makers in the marketplace and not my taxpayer-funded legal system, then consider me not embarrassed. I presume then you’re some fanboy of a walled garden of non-choice where your tax dollars are spent on lawsuits ensuring technology is not available?

Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style says:

Re: Patient War

You’re missing something, but not in a major way. The Samsung Galaxy S III isn’t the phone the ban applies to. That honor goes to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The newest phone in the Nexus line. Which in my opinion is why this is happening. This is basically a shot across the bow at Google, aimed at their flagship device.

That and it’s yet another sign of Apple floundering in the smartphone market. With all their suits and attempts to ban products as of late. Basically, if you can compete you will. If you can’t you’ll try anything and everything to stop the competition. Which is what this appears to be. They took a shot at Motorola and lost. They took a shot at HTC and lost. Now it’s Samsung/Google’s turn.

George G says:

It’s ridiculous, and APple even being allowed to get an injunction for “slide to unlock” is horrendous. The English courts showed that this patent was absolutely useless since it was already in use by another company before Apple. So, Apple should never have even been allowed to get that idiot of a case into court.

Also, now we see Apple has been granted a patent on AR glasses. Again, this is stupid since Google are actually one of the first to market with an actual real thing, and even if they weren’t I can point Apple to several films I worked on during the 90s and early 200s in which we not only done this, we basically had the concepts and ideas all over cinema screens around the world!

It’s ridiculous that Apple might try to use this patent to stifle others from launching their AR glasses, but prior art should basically kick Apple in the teeth once and for all.

Me says:

Missing the point...

While everyone here is arguing fanboy status’s, aren’t we missing the real point that the tech companies(Not just apple) are running rampant with what seems to be preposterous patents that stifle innovation and do not serve the publics best interests? Who cares who’s side your on, I believe a bigger issue is at hand. The UN recognizes it at least, as well as facebook and yahoo, although more so for there own gains against their mutual competition, the whole enemy of my enemy is a friend deal.

Brad Hubbard (profile) says:

Quick Patent Clarification

So…what’s sad about this is that the patent in question is even dumber than Mike suggests.

The patent doesn’t cover local device and web search on a mobile device, that’s been a feature of Android since Day 0 and the Apple patent was applied for in 2009 and granted in 2010.

The patent is for conducting local and web search at the same time on a mobile device…

…wait for it…

…with VOICE!

That’s right, combining two extremely trivial concepts on an extremely common platform resulted in patent protection. The “Google Now” interface is what triggered this particular action, and is why the Nexus specifically was targeted. Another top-notch ruling from Judge Koh.

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