Google Launches Patent Attack On Apple In A Disappointing First For The Company

from the double-standards dept

For years, despite being the defendant in tons of patent suits, and despite having a decent patent portfolio of its own, Google had never gone on the offensive with its patents against others. With the purchase of Motorola Mobility, it inherited an ongoing court case against Apple, which was unceremoniously dumped by Judge Posner. However, now there’s news that Motorola Mobility has gone to the ITC to seek an injunction against Apple for the iPhone, iPad and some of its computers as well. Filing at the ITC can only lead to an injunction, rather than monetary damages, but the threat of an injunction is pretty big no matter what, and can often force a company to pay up.

What’s disappointing here is that, even though this is coming from the Motorola side of things, as far as I can tell, it’s the first time that Google itself could be described as a patent aggressor. For a company that had been coming out vocally about just how broken the patent system was, and which seemed to be fighting the good fight on stopping such abuses of patents to block competition, this is disappointing.

Yes, it’s typical for companies, as they get bigger, older and less innovative, to start becoming patent aggressors, but Google had kept away from doing so for a long time, and certainly appeared, publicly, to have no interest in going down this road. Combined with the company’s recent decision to cave on copyright issues as well, it seems that Google is taking some dangerous steps around copyright and patent law — both of which may go against its own long-term best interests.

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Companies: apple, google, motorola mobility

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Comments on “Google Launches Patent Attack On Apple In A Disappointing First For The Company”

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DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I would point out that Apple (for the first of multiple times) sued Motorola starting back in about March 2010.

I think it is well past time Motorola counter sues over some patents that have teeth. (not FRAND)

I saw this coming for over two years. Why is anyone else surprised? Once Google bought Motorola, then I really knew it would be coming. Again, why the surprise?

MrWilson says:

Re: Re:

This is my question. If you punch a bully who has already punched you, isn’t that just defending yourself?

Google isn’t going after someone out of the blue.

My other question is, could this just be a nuclear proliferation/bargaining move? “We’ll drop our ITC suit if you drop your other suits.”

At what point is it no longer acceptable to allow attacks against you by an aggressor to go unanswered?

“Do no evil” doesn’t equal “turn the other cheek.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Exactly. If Apple drops its patent suits against Google and others and any licensing fees then Google can do the same. In the meantime I have no problems with Google demanding money from Apple in an effort to cancel out whatever licensing fees Apple demands from Google and others. It’s just the typical sue, counter-sue scheme that exemplifies how broken our patent system is but this lawsuit is more defensive than offensive because it’s more of a retaliation attempt.

Aerilus says:

Re: Re:

if i am remembering correctly i seem to remeber reading some press release stating that Google was going to allow Motorola decide how to manage/defend its patents. if that is the truth this articles seems a little inflammatory when it Motorola whom I am assuming is still mostly operating as a separate entity and not google itself whom is doing the aggression. I am sure google leadership knows and has not stopped motorola but letting them do their own thing is not the same as being a patent agressor

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“And you may be working against your own longterm best interests by speaking against your paymasters.”

I like how this article is the antithesis of your own accusation, and yet you ignore it completely and pretend as though this site is under some strict orders not to do a negative post about Google.

As someone who writes for the site, I can ASSURE you that is not the case. Care to simply label me a liar? Because that would be fucking hysterical….

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

“The question isn’t going to go away.”

Neither does the question about Obama’s birth certificate. The point is that, since we’ve clearly demonstrated that editorial commentary does not shy away from critisizing Google, your question is entirely irrelevant.

Keep asking it, though. It’s good for a laugh, if nothing else….

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh but Google has products worth protecting for a while now. Most of them open sourced =D

My guess is that they decided to let Motorola operate with as little interference as they could and they are now launching an attack on Apple. Or it could be a preemptive strike for something they see coming.

Either way it’s not good and Google has been giving signs of the “too big syndrome” for a while now.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Plenty of big successful companies with products worth protecting don’t become patent aggressors.

The only protecting Apple wants is to become the next monopoly. Plain and simple.

It speaks volumes that numerous Android manufacturers could manage to cross license with Microsoft, and at extortionate prices (see details in Barnes & Noble suit detailed on Groklaw); yet they can’t seem to come to a reasonable, cross license agreement with Apple.

Samsung could work with Microsoft, but cannot come to an agreement with Apple after multiple attempts, including two of them ordered by the court?

The real problem is that Apple needs some adult supervision.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

So if someone has water … a product worth protecting … should they sue everyone else who has water for infringement?

The obvious ideas are the ideas that everyone wants to patent because people seek the best solutions to whatever problem. No one seeks suboptimal solutions which is why many people have historically independently made and created similar discoveries and inventions.

The question that should be asked isn’t “how valuable is an idea or product” it’s “what policy measures, if any, are in the public interest”. There is little to no evidence to suggest that patents, or at least our current patent system, encourage invention or innovation or that they are in the public interest.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“So if someone has water … a product worth protecting … should they sue everyone else who has water for infringement?”

Sort of misleading. Water is common, it’s an existing product, and thus doesn’t get protection. Now, if you come up with some sort of triple oxygenated water powder, as an example, then perhaps that might merit a patent (at least the process to get to it).

Water is a product worth protecting, but it’s long since gone out of patent! 🙂

Pjerky (profile) says:

Re: Simple

I agree fully. Apple picked the fight with a lot of different people. Their games are becoming a real threat to Google’s Android partners. Apple has repeatedly played the schoolyard bully to HTC, Samsung, Motorola, and others that are competing with them in the mobile market. And no matter what has happened they keep getting worse.

They have started pushing for worldwide injunctions against their competitors products for the most generic patents (that should never have been granted in the first place). Thus they have now gone too far in their bullying. It sucks, but I think this move had to be done. Apple needs and deserves a dose of their own medicine.

I think in the long run this might finally be the event that gets Apple to back down and stop trying to compete through litigation instead of innovation. Not that they have been all that innovative anyway. They have been massive hippocrates, copying/stealing others ideas and re-combining and re-packaging them as their own ideas. Then they patent those ideas as their own. So that they can now sue over it.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Apple didn’t start it. In this particular case it was Motorola who initially sued Apple for not paying up on a 2.25% royalties rate for industry standard FRAND patents. Apple counter sued and on August 14th Apple won the motion to have the FRAND lowered. It all started in October 2010.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So let me see if I’ve got this.

Motorola has an FRAND patent (obviously licensed under fair and reasonable and non-discriminatory terms to others).

Apple won’t take a license like everyone else. (Because Apple is special.)

Motorola sues for a higher royalty, since they’re not going to get it any other way but by litigating. (Steve Jobs: invent your own technology, don’t steal ours!)

Apple started its lawsuits against Android in March by suing HTC for making a phone that was too awesome. Nobody else can make good products — it cannot be allowed.

James Plotkin (profile) says:

“… it seems that Google is taking some dangerous steps around copyright and patent law — both of which may go against its own long-term best interests.”

What would those long-term interest be? Not saying you’re wrong, I just don’t see what motivated that comment. Is it in Google’s long-term best interest to never fire an offensive salvo despite their deep and growing patent portfolio? If so, why?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What would those long-term interest be?

I would assume Google’s number one long-term interest is retention/growth of market share.

Early on, it was the techno-egalitarians and open source community that were Google’s biggest supporters and best advertisers (word of mouth/board, pre that is). Google reciprocated by being one of the best corporate supporters of fair principles and open source practices. (There was also the ‘small’ factor of Google once having the best technical, and most spam-free hits in the industry, no comparison).

By going down the road of Content ID, result burying and now patent troll, Google may look like it is performing an about-face on what used to be their core, driving principles. For instance, revealed in practice, Content ID looks like an optimal tool to assign individual works to corporate owners if there are enough hits — hardly egalitarian or even fair to either “side”.

On top of the apparent philosophical shift is the ten-year drift to ‘mediocrity’ in search result quality. One can go to any of a number of sites (including freaking Bing) and get about the same quality results these days.

I’m not saying that Google still depends on a hoarde of techno-egalitarians now that they are advertisers to the world.

However, from those estranged techno-egalitarians will come the next generation of search. All it needs is the inspiration, the talent and a willing corporate beneficiary. Where will they go with the next big thing?

Mark Murphy (profile) says:


(disclaimer: I am heavily involved in Android application development)

This is unsurprising, and perhaps inevitable, given Google’s acquisition of Motorola and going after other patent collections.

In the olden days, simply hoarding patents and hoping for Mutually Assured Destruction competitive models would have sufficed. But Apple (and others) have turned this into a shooting war… one in which few (if any) are actually shooting at Google. Mostly, they are suing non-Motorola Android device manufacturers. IANAL, but I don’t see where Google has the opportunity to volunteer as defendant (besides, they’d get sued for stealing the idea from The Hunger Games). It does Google little good to have a pile of patents and not be able to defend the larger Android ecosystem with them.

One could argue that Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility was simply to ensure that at least one manufacturer couldn’t be sued without involving Google, but Android’s strength lies in numbers of manufacturers.

I think Google, as is all too common, missed a golden opportunity for controlling the messaging. Had they come out with a “we won’t shoot first, but we will shoot last” statement around this move, they could have done a bit better job of claiming the moral high ground (to the extent that there is “moral high ground” in the world of software patents).

In an ideal world, Google would have elected to “turn the other cheek” on all this patent nonsense, and instead worked to get the patents invalidated independently of being sued and pursue other similar tactics. As I often point out to those I’m advising in Android app development, in an ideal world, I’d have hair.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Inevitable

Thanks. You said this better than I could have.

> But Apple (and others) have turned this into a shooting war

Yep, back in March 2010 by suing Motorola over Android. Back then I knew this was going to turn ugly. I don’t think it has even turned ugly yet. I still think it is going to get worse.

Why? Because I think the leadership at Apple is insane.

Steve Jobs said he would spend all of Apple’s (eg, stockholders’) money in this patent nuclear war. Do you know what happened to the last company (eg, SCO) who vowed “to our utter destruction” ?

AdamBv1 (profile) says:

This bugs me. I don’t really like seeing Google getting involved in the whole patents war bit but the part that REALLY bothers me is that they are going the ITC route.

I can understand wanting to monetize the patents they have and pushing back at Apple but really trying to get a injunction like this only hurts consumers. It’s totally going against the whole “do no evil” motto.

If you feel you were harmed by somebody stealing your patented ideas then take it out on the company. Hell, letting them sell more iDevices in the mean time could just mean a bigger reward for you if you win.

AdamBv1 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I still think the proper way to do this and not look evil would be to leave the ITC out of it and either try to hit Apple’s pocketbook or even better come up with some kind of cross licensing agreement with Apple, Google, Motorola, and other smartphone manufacturers so Apple has to stop their nonsense.

I understand that “everyone else is doing it” but I think they could have taken the high road on this and left the ITC and their injunctions out of this. They may be trying to hit Apple hard and to force a settlement but Apple has previously shown no interest in such a thing so I don’t think they are any more likely to settle this time.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

This I can definitely agree to.

As far as I am concerned, Google and Motorola could have set an example but they decided not to. Motorola sued Apple almost a week after Steve Jobs’ death over the use of industry FRAND standard patents. Then in 2011 they sued Apple again over WiFi patent infringement and video streaming codec standard H.264.

I also don’t believe Google/Motorola Mobilty are doing this to defend Samsung. If they were, it would have to show up in court documents. The most notable patent that Motorola listed is Siri because of Voice Recognition Software.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I can’t agree. Taking a harmful device that is designed from top to bottom to restrict and infringe upon users’ freedom off the market does not hurt customers in any way. Anything Google can do to kill the “walled garden” system for good is good for everyone involved in the long term, except of course the parasites pushing this harmful model.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re:

> he part that REALLY bothers me is that they
> are going the ITC route.

Google recognizes that they are fighting an aggressor (Apple) who is not going to back down until they are ground into the dust. By Steve Jobs own words, and Apple’s behavior since.

Samsung was able to reach an acceptable agreement with patent aggressor Microsoft, but yet not with Apple after multiple, and court ordered, attempts. Why is that?

I think it is because Apple will have nothing less than a complete monopoly on the entire mobile phone industry as Apple is rightfully entitled to by Divine Gift from God directly to Apple.

> I can understand wanting to monetize the patents

I think you are mistaken if you think Google is thinking anything about monetizing patents. This is about getting rid of a bad actor who threatens to destroy the entire ecosystem.

> If you feel you were harmed by somebody stealing your patented ideas

Again, I don’t think you understand what is really going on here.

AdamBv1 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

In my head I kinda meant the monetizing or protecting patents bit more in a general sense than just this Google/Motorola and Apple case. I know that is not what Google is going for here.

I still think that no matter what the ITC injunctions are a low blow. Even the ITC is starting to realize that these injunctions are really anti-consumer actions by the companies involved and often the wrong way to deal with this whole mess.

Also, as proved by HTC and Samsung, ITC injunctions tend to often be trivial to work around. A little tweak to a feature and you can sell your device again, the only people harmed are consumers who have to deal with reduced functionality. This is of course much harder if you can stick them with a hardware patent instead of a software one.

The only way I see to end this is to manage to make something giant stick that will hit Apple for tens of billions of dollars so they are either bankrupted or forced into a huge cross-licensing agreement that makes all these lawsuits impossible. Sadly I”m not sure either one is very likely.

DannyB (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Thank you for your reply.

> Also, as proved by HTC and Samsung,
> ITC injunctions tend to often be trivial to work around.

That sword cuts both ways. Motorola can simply argue that such injunctions are trivial to work around, so the ITC should permanently enjoin import of ALL infringing Apple products. Those products do not need to play certain video codecs, and other functionality, etc, etc.

> I still think that no matter what the ITC
> injunctions are a low blow.

Yes, but the bully has used that same low blow against several of Google’s partners. Why is it so unfair to hit them back where it hurts? You have to stand up to a bully.

> The only way I see to end this is to manage to make
> something giant stick that will hit Apple for tens of
> billions of dollars

Here I must respectfully disagree with you. Apple has a very large pile of cash on hand. (Good for them!) By Steve Jobs’ own words, and by Apple’s subsequent actions, it is clear that money isn’t going to stop this. Apple wants no less than to own the entire mobile phone industry and put everyone else out of business, or at minimum, not allow anyone else to make fantastic products at great prices.

My most recent Android phone was acquired fathers day. It cost me $1, and I got back a $100 gift card, for signing another 2-year contract for service. Realistically, I imagine I’ll be offered another upgrade in 18 months or less. It’s a great phone. Style and color I like. Much faster than my previous phone. (Both processor and data.) Slide out physical keyboard. Do you think iPhones will ever be sold at such a deal? Or have any variation from the “one true way”? Apple wants iPhone to be a Rolls Royce or other expensive car of mobile phones. It’s about perception. Most people drive a Honda or Toyota. Android comes in every size, shape, style, color and price. The highest end Android phones are, frankly IMO, significantly better than an iPhone.

I don’t begrudge anyone who prefers an iPhone from being able to get one. Frankly, I don’t care. It doesn’t affect me. What does affect me is that Apple, like Microsoft before it, does not want the market to have any choice whatsoever. Or only a choice of something inferior. Nobody else can be allowed to make great phones.

That is why money will not solve the problem. This is a wannabee monopolist we are dealing with. Short term money means nothing to a monopolist. All that matters is getting or maintaining the monopoly. A monopolist will do anything, and I mean anything to get or keep the monopoly. Money doesn’t matter. Profit doesn’t matter. Legality doesn’t matter. (Hey, you get convicted and pay a fine — as long as you’ve still got a monopoly you’re in the driver’s seat.)

Furthermore there is the well known arrogance and reality distortion of, within and around Apple and their supporters. The only way to end this is to bring a real threat to their business — and even that, to our amazement, may turn out to not be enough.

That is why I respectfully disagree with you over it being about money.

Anonymous Coward says:

How many times does Google have to get punched in the face by Apple before it can hit back and not be called a patent agressor? I know its dissapointing to see any validation of tech patents, but this is a fight Apple started.

I mean Apple basically thinks Android shouldn’t exist and has been going around for the last couple years trying to get courts to agree with them.

Wally says:

Re: Re: Re:

It was Nokia who initially sued Apple in 2009.

2009, Oct 22: Nokia sues Apple over 10 patents.[6][7]
2009, Dec 11: Apple countersues Nokia over 13 patents.[8]
2009, Dec 29: Nokia files a second lawsuit[9] and a U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) complaint against Apple over 7 more patents.[10]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You know, I’d semi in passing read about this on a few Android and tech sites, but I didn’t pay too much attention til reading it here. But the reason I’m commenting is because of your comment:

“It may be a roundabout way of “helping” samsung, but if google makes this case outrageous, there’s a possibility both cases will be dismissed with prejudice.

At least I hope that’s their plan. >.>”

This semi makes sense. If thought about properly, and Google does make things outrageous, there is the chance that both cases will be dismissed with prejudice. We’ve already had a few judges pretty much say how ridiculous all this is (not in such simple terms obviously) and we’ve had others already say they’re tired of such behavior. Maybe this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and gets current cases dismissed and perhaps leads to some patent reform. (At least one can only hope that happens.)

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“My theory Google is trying to take out Apple, since it’s trying to take out Samsung(a competitor and supporter of Android)

It may be a roundabout way of “helping” samsung, but if google makes this case outrageous, there’s a possibility both cases will be dismissed with prejudice.

At least I hope that’s their plan. >.>”

As Ghandi had once said:

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Problem is that the case that Google has is over Siri’s voice recognition programming.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Big companies act like big companies

I’ve grown skeptical of the motivations of big tech companies. Some of the arguments put forth in defense of tech and related industries sound a lot like the arguments put forth in defense of dominant industries in previous eras. I think it must go with the territory. Once you become “the establishment” you act like the establishment, even if you were the reason older industries were disrupted.

Therefore, when big tech companies fund “freedom of the Internet” campaigns, I now look at what’s in it for them. I don’t think they are acting in the interests of average citizens.

I also view with a great deal of skepticism arguments about privacy directed at the government when private companies want to do just as much information gathering. If you care about citizen privacy, you’ve got to question what companies are doing with that data just as much as what governments are doing with that data.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Big companies act like big companies

Google looks for “alignment of interests” opportunities. They are not altruistic. Theres a HUGE difference.

As a consumer, I’ll take that.

It’s SUCH an weird thing that a personal win MUST come at a loss for others. Basically, that charity must hurt. Which hampers the state of charitable organizations. (google for it 😀 )

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Big companies act like big companies

I’m not sure that big corporations like Google are necessarily what we should strive for and reward.

I have mentioned the P2P Foundation before as something I wish would get more attention in the Techdirt discussions. My general impression of Techdirt is that it is more pro-Google than it is an advocate of a more revolutionary approach to economic thinking. The envelope is pushed far enough to benefit Google, but not far enough to disrupt the corporate mode that Google is part of.

Here’s a good article and it mentions the P2P Foundation. While it is about city government, I think it could also apply to corporations, too.

Shareable: 7 Ways To Reinvent Your City, Burning Man Style: “Michel Bauwens, the founder of the Peer to Peer Foundation, believes that the proper role of government in our emerging networked society is that of partner in social production. This means that in a myriad ways government helps citizens help themselves. This turns the existing model of government as a top-down service provider on its head. Instead, government works in a bottom up fashion to empower citizens to provide for themselves.”

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Big companies act like big companies

The system is currently working quite well for Apple. It is not only making a ton of money, it’s rewarding shareholders along for the ride.

I think if you want big changes in how business is conducted here and elsewhere, you need to look beyond IP laws. Here’s a relevant piece. Click on it to be directed to a further discussion.

Innovation: What happens when entrepreneurial people value a *meaningful and sustainable lifestyle* over money? – Quora: Michel Bauwens “I believe it is still generally the case that doing things outside the mainstream system comes at a cost, even as it is necessary, brings happiness and meaning etc .. Generally speaking, the peer production of value happens in the context of a system where value is extracted by shareholders and not returned to the peer producing value creators. They are two polarities for the solutions and both are occuring. One is that there is a ‘inclusive/ethical capitalism’ (which can also be a disguise for neoliberal and classic capitalist extraction) movement developing, around the concept of shared value, which is looking for ways that value can be more equitably shared. On the other hand, I believe that there is also a maturing and extension of open business models that are occuring from the peer value producers themselves.”

Orange (user link) says:


Good for Google, though I do despise patent trolls, can you really blame Google for do this? Apple is continuously filing suits against all kinds of tech companies, it’s about time they got a taste of their own medicine.


“Hey, that phone is black, you are going to feel the wrath of our Lawyers now”


It would be a great day if Samsung actually gets its import ban against Apple, there will be celebrations in the street if so.

Wally (profile) says:

Clearing some air

I just need to clear the air a bit before anyone starts to bash Apple saying that they deserve this. Mind you they aren’t the only ones who were subject to similar lawsuits from Motorola’s mobile division. I still recall the Motorola vs XBox360 case involving a lawsuit over an industry standard video codec.

Now that I have that out of the way I would like to point out that this is the 3rd lawsuit brought upon Apple by Motorola Mobility. The one in 2010 was dropped (I have no clue) but I do know the one from 2011 was over the use of WiFi and video streaming in Apple products. Apple won the 2011 case recently so I’m not surprised this is happening.

As for this patent case, it is over voice recognition software in Siri which if I recall, isn’t even owned by Motorola Mobility and was liscensed to Apple by a Korean university.

The timing is uncanny considering the Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit.

nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile) says:

I am really, really hoping that the motivation of Google here is that they have waited to be directly attacked; but since no lawsuit has been forthcoming they are now stepping into the fray in the hopes of striking a massive blow against Apple and getting a ceasefire.

I would then hope they take the battle to Microsoft’s doorstep and give them a black eye, before getting back to the innovation.

I fear though that they may fall to the dark side… “Take your patent lawsuit! Use it. Strike me down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Sometimes you have to punch a bully

I usually agree with this blog, but not today. Apple has shown they can not be reasoned with and are willing to go nuclear on the patent issue. Sometimes you simply have to punch back when confronted by a bully.

Hopefully Google and all the other mobile industry players will eventually come together and take down apple’s insane litigation campaign

Allen (profile) says:

Take some personal responsiblity

Is this Apple’s fault? Google’s fault? They’re just gaming the system and blaming either is another way of saying it’s not *my* fault.

But it our fault: we through our ignorance or disengagement with the democratic process have created the rules. Many people here are engaging with politicians and trying to make a difference. Many of us are not.

You can do something about it.

Dorus says:


When apple attacks, then games the system the patent game becomes like chess. To win you have to attack, you have no other choice because as in chess if you sit there and just defend they disarm you and put you in check mate. Samsung is in the postion as first in line of fire from apple and they have no choice, absolutely no other choice in this world but to go on the offensive and try to disarm their attacker. They are a victim but to survive they must become the attacker as well otherwise they die.

John Doe says:

Its like defending yourself against a bully

When a kid is bullied, he can run and tell the teacher. The teacher tells the bully to stop. The bully ignores the teacher and goes right back to bullying. Eventually the kid will have to smack the bully in the mouth to end the bullying. Motorola is just standing up for itself. I don’t like patent lawsuits, but until Apple gets a taste of its own medicine, it will continue to be the playground bully.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Its like defending yourself against a bully

I’d like to see Apple knocked down because while I like its products, I think its profit margin is unnecessarily high and it wants too much control. But I’d also like to see Facebook, Google, etc., knocked down, too. (Of the three companies, Facebook is the one I view with the most suspicion.)

As I mentioned elsewhere in this discussion, I think big companies act like big companies no matter how revolutionary they might have been when they started. When growth and the stock market govern decisions, companies act differently than if their goals are not measured in those terms.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Here's more to contemplate

If we start taking down the walls, perhaps the tech giants will be disrupted, too.

Peer-to-peer production and the coming of the commons | Red Pepper: “In the sphere of immaterial production, Facebook and Google are representative of forms in which individuals share their expressive output but do not collaborate with each other on common objects. Typically, such platforms will use business models that do not return the value to the users who have actually created it.

“Commons-based peer production, by contrast, is emerging as a proto-mode of production in which the value is created by productive publics or ?produsers? in shared innovation commons, whether they are of knowledge, code or design. It occurs wherever people can link up horizontally and without permission to create common value together. It has the most potential as a leverage to transform what is now a proto-mode of production into a real mode of production beneficial to workers and ?commoners?. To achieve this, strategic and tactical breaks with capitalism are necessary, though not necessarily with market forms.”

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