Tag Archives: intellectual property

My, how Google’s attitude has changed

Google, five months ago:

“A smartphone might involve as many as 250,000 (largely questionable) patent claims, and our competitors want to impose a “tax” for these dubious patents that makes Android devices more expensive for consumers. They want to make it harder for manufacturers to sell Android devices. Instead of competing by building new features or devices, they are fighting through litigation.”

Google, today:

“Google specifically gave permission for Motorola Mobility (MMI) to file a new lawsuit against Apple over its iPhone 4S and iCloud products, according to an analysis of the takeover agreement in which the search giant aims to buy the struggling mobile maker.”

 

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Apple reassures FutureTap: “We’re not making a patent claim on your work”

Remember the story about how Apple was stealing a third-party app developer’s work and patenting it?

At the time, I explained in a long post that the patent was nothing to do with FutureTap’s excellent WhereTo? application. And, after consulting a patent lawyer who managed to get in touch with Apple’s patent lawyers, that’s exactly how it’s panned out. In a post on their blog, FutureTap’s Ortwin Gentz quotes Apple’s senior patent counsel, Anand Sethuraman:

“The patent application in question does not claim as inventive the pictured user interface nor the general concept of an integrated travel services application.  We appreciate your taking time out to discuss the matter and will keep you updated.”

So there you have it. This was a long-way from the “evul Apple!” that many sites went for – but, as I said at the time, this says more about how Apple is currently perceived than its actual behaviour.

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In what way is slavishly copying something “original”?

Joseph Jaffe is generally great, but I really do have to pick him up on his post about how "Hasbro should change its name to Hasbeen":

"Proof that you can’t keep a good Indian programmer down comes from the Agarwalla brothers, creators of the original and popular Facebook app (arguably the only one that actually worked) Scrabulous, who in the ultimate display of up-yours, have launched Wordscraper. Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more say no more.

Where there were squares, now there are circles. BINGO!

Bottom line: go play Wordscraper. I’ll be waiting to challenge you. Support Rayat and Jayant."

In what way is ripping someone else’s game off "original"? Why should I support people who steal other people’s original ideas, then demand a ransom to sell those ideas back to their originators?

The success of Scrabulous is entirely down to two things: Scrabble being a brilliant game, and the popularity of Facebook. Rayat and Jayant don’t deserve my support – they simply leeched off other people’s ideas. I’m glad Hasbro ended up giving them nothing, and I hope that their new game fails.

To put it another way: suppose the situation was reversed? Suppose that Joseph invented a board game, and that Hasbro then slavishly copied it band launched a Facebook version before he launched his own? Would he be happy if he had to pay Hasbro to buy back what’s essentially his own game?

Of course not. People are being blinded by the fact that it’s a big company defending its game against a tiny one. And everyone supports the little guy, right?

Not in this case. If you support originality, and want to see more good original work, don’t support rip-offs.

It’s not OK to steal content, even if you’re The Daily Mail

Back when I was a proper journo, I went on a course about media law. One of the basics – the very, very basic elements – was that all pictures are copyrighted and you are likely to get sued if you just grab one and use it. For photographers, pictures are their living and they don’t take kindly to having them taken without paying.

When untrained individuals grab an image, that’s understandable. Copyright law is not something taught in schools, and a lot of people presume that because you can right-click on a picture and "save as…" it’s ok to do so. They’re wrong, of course, but being wrong because you don’t know any better is at least understandable.

For a professional publication to do the same thing, though, isn’t just a mistake: it’s corporate theft. And that’s why The Daily Mail stealing Giles Turnbull’s photo isn’t something that should be treated lightly.

I’m hoping that Charles Arthur, who’s been (rightly) vocal about web sites stealing The Guardian’s content, will pick up on this too. After all, we’re not talking about peanuts here: the cost of buying an image like Giles’ from a picture library could be several hundred pounds.