The U.S. Patent Office And Its Claim Of Shame

Yesterday Microsoft took to the legal avenues of redress in an attempt to address what it alleges are patent violations by a variety of companies that use Android. It even filed a lawsuit against Barnes & Noble, which is already struggling to remain afloat in these economically challenged times. So not to show any partiality, Microsoft is also going after Foxconn and Inventec for their participation in making the company’s Nook e-reader. Many are seeing this as an attack on the Google Android operating system and claim Microsoft is doing this since it cannot compete against Android. Whatever the situation and whatever your feeling either in favor or against Microsoft, there is a far bigger problem that needs to be addressed.

The United States Patent Office has handed out patents for technology in which there is a high probability that the governmental agency did little investigation into the legitimacy of the claim. There is also a high probability that claims for a patent have been made by some companies even when there was sufficient proof in concept that the idea was developed by another. An example that patents have been issued for dubious technological claims is when Amazon secured its famous ‘Amazon “1-Click” Patent.’ Though the U.S. Patent Office granted the patent, the European Patent Office refused to grant it.

The lunacy in which patents were issued for claims on inventions not being fully invented by the person or company applying for the patent continues to be a thorn in the side of technology. With billions of dollars at stake for some of the technology companies located in the United States, it is easier to sue than try to compete against rivals when a company infringes on a perceived patent. One would think that our Congress is aware of the situation but has ignored revamping the U.S. Patent Office and conduct a reexamination of claims being made before allowing them to clog up the courts.

There is also one other minor issue. If Microsoft wants to go after Android, wouldn’t it make sense just to sue Google?

What do you think?

Comments as always are welcome.

Source – All About Microsoft

Microsoft Sues Barnes & Noble Over Android

Earlier today Microsoft announced that it has filed a formal lawsuit against Barnes & Noble because of a patent infringement related to its Android-based Nook e-reader. Related to that, Microsoft is also taking legal action against Inventec and Foxconn, who manufacture the Nook e-reader.

The cause over this issue resides over certain aspects of the Android user experience. Microsoft was reluctant on certain issues but only mentioned “natural ways of interacting with devices by tabbing through various screens to find the information they need, surfing the Web more quickly, and interacting with documents and e-books” were owned and patented by Microsoft.

Usually instead of going after everybody and their mother, Microsoft typically lets them sign a patent licensing agreement. This brings us back to about this time last year when Microsoft and HTC entered a licensing deal that covers its Android devices. In return, HTC agreed to pay Microsoft royalty fees yearly.

The special deal with Barnes & Noble’s e-reader has to do with the custom version of Android that it runs. The custom operating system is manufactured by Inventec and Foxconn, who build the complete device. Reports say that Barnes & Noble, Foxconn, and Inventec haven’t signed a licensing deal and negotiations with the companies have come to a grinding halt. Apparently Microsoft has gotten fed up with the companies and decided legal action is the right choice.

Microsoft Corporate Vice President Horacio Gutierrez said: “We have tried for over a year to reach licensing agreements with Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec. Their refusals to take licenses leave us no choice but to bring legal action to defend our innovations and fulfill our responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to safeguard the billions of dollars we invest each year to bring great software products and services to market.”

This is not the first and certainly not the last time Microsoft is suing a device manufacturer over the Android operating system. It is a very strict deal between Microsoft and Android and it doesn’t want to lose what gives it the upper hand in the mobile market.

Foxconn’s New Employee Benefit – Sort Of

There should be an image here!I cannot express how thrilled I am to see Foxconn tackling its employees’ moral issues with such intense, caring hearts. Yes folks, Foxconn has installed — get this — NETS to catch employees who might decide to jump to their deaths. Boy, now that is someplace I want to work!

To say that this has me left speechless would be an understatement. The fact that working for this company (and likely others in the same field) has people jumping off of buildings is a cry for needed changes, not freaking nets!

Look, I think it’s special that buying Apple products is sending people to new employment opportunities overseas. But for the love of Pete, find a way to motivate and encourage a better work environment instead of simply installing nets to deal with workplace suicide. Come on, Foxconn, and to a lesser degree, Apple. Let’s work on this!

[Photo above by DRB62 / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:Malcolm Gladwell]

Buy Your Apple iPhone or iPad Soon – Supplies Could Shrink In Coming Months

Foxconn, the company that produces the Apple iPhone and iPad, as well as other electronic products, could be moving its plants out of China. In what appears to be a twofold problem, higher wages for Chinese workers and suicides at its plant in Shenzhen, the company may idle some 800,000 workers if it closes the plant. In addition, the company indicates that the price difference of producing electronics in China vs. Taiwan shrank when the company offered wage increases of 30% or more to the Chinese plant workers.

A recent article also states:

Foxconn’s facilities in Taiwan tend to be highly automated, whereas on the mainland they are much more labour intensive.

This intensive labour model, with long working hours and rigid systems, is one of the reasons given for worker unhappiness in southern China.

Taiwan is also trying to woo companies back. Last month it cut business income tax from 25 per cent to 17 per cent, and it is planning to set up several free trade zones for tariff-free imports.

The fallout from the Foxconn crisis continues to mount. There are fears of a domino effect causing serious production disruption in Shenzhen, one of the most heavily industrialised cities in China.

If Foxconn does move its operations back to Taiwan and closes its plant in China, this could cause a disruption in the supply chain. Apple could be facing a short supply of its popular iPhones and iPads down the road. Exactly when this could happen is unknown.

Comments welcome.


Foxconn – The Secret Computer Assembly Company

Over at they reported how a computer assembly company named Foxconn was hiring some 1400 new workers. Seems that the Taiwanese owned company is the 2nd largest assembly plant of computers in the world. But there were several things about the article that struck my interest and also gave me some thoughts about how computers and other components are assembled.

About 15 years ago or so, I was buying my parts from a small company located in Santa Clara, CA. If you are not familiar with parts warehouses in Santa Clara, a high percentage of them are owned and operated by Taiwanese. I was ordering 8 computer systems for a company that I was setting up for a client and wanted a specific name brand monitor. I was told that specific monitor was not in stock, but I would be sent brand X which was the same thing. After some questioning and being rather insistant about not wanting brand X I was told that in Taiwan there was a company that produces monitors for 16 different companies, all with the same guts, but different exterior cases. I was assured that if brand X failed it would be replaced at no cost to me including shipping for the first 5 years. None of the 8 failed.

Back to Foxconn. The article went on to state that they are kind of a hush, hush, secret company. But what was of interest is that they produce stuff for some of the major computer players like Apple, HP, Dell, Cisco, Nokia and Sony. Which made me wonder. Are the parts inside the computers they build the same, but just put into a different case? Just a thought.

You can read the full article here.

Comments welcome.

[tags]foxconn, computers, apple, dell. cisco, nokia, sony, hp, [/tags]