Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Patents Google Software United Kingdom Apple Your Rights Online

UK Developers Quit US App Store Over Patent Fears 192

Posted by Soulskill
from the risk-vs-reward dept.
iamflimflam1 writes "The Guardian is running a story on how app developers in the UK are withdrawing from the U.S. app store over patent fears. 'The growth of patent lawsuits over apps raises serious issues for all the emerging smartphone platforms, because none of the principal companies involved — Apple, Google or Microsoft — can guarantee to protect developers from them. Even when the mobile OS developer has signed a patent licence — as Apple has with at least one company currently pursuing patent lawsuits — it is not clear that it has any legal standing to defend developers.' This follows a blog post from the iconfactory about the death of independent developers. Have the big corporations really won? What is the future for small teams and one-man-band developers?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

UK Developers Quit US App Store Over Patent Fears

Comments Filter:
  • by Flipao (903929) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:44AM (#36785798)
    The way things are, this is as good a start as any.
    • by mrops (927562) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @10:04AM (#36785972)

      I would have given this +1 Insightful however don't have mod points.

      It really needs to get really bad before people start realizing how patents are hurting economy and innovation, to a point where there vote on such matters count.

      • by jhoegl (638955)
        How long before AT&T was broken up?
        How long after is it almost back together?
        Yeah, nothing changes in the United States of Corporate America
      • by elashish14 (1302231) <profcalc4&gmail,com> on Saturday July 16, 2011 @10:55AM (#36786342)

        >It really needs to get really bad before people start realizing how patents are hurting economy and innovation, to a point where there vote on such matters count.

        This statement is a little too general. Patents aren't necessarily the problem, what is more problematic is that they're being abused.

        Patents were supposed to protect small businesses and startups with a new idea. Now they're being used for extortion (a la Microsoft forcing Samsung, HTC, etc. to pay for a WP7 license on every phone they sell) and manipulation (see here [dailytech.com]). And it's much easier for large corporations to acquire them becuase they can pay for the application fees or patent auctions.

        What's obviously clear here is that patents aren't serving their original intention. What the US needs is legislation to stop patent abuse, particularly by large corporations. But there are too many lawyers in America, so it will never happen.

        • by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @11:05AM (#36786418)
          This is not a fault of patents per se. This is a fault of the US litigation system. Unregulated lawyer fees, which I agree are ridiculous, the possibility of forum shopping, so everyone ends up in Bumfuck, TX for their patent cases, non-technical judges that have no clue about the engineering aspects of a patent, jury trials, just to make sure that the deciding body has no clue about the matter at hand, and ridiculously overblown damages. The US patent system differs from the European one, but not so much as to hurt. What hurts is the difference in litigation. Over here in Europe I have seen small inventors going after global corporation over their patents - successful and on a budget. I have seen patent cases to the highest national court for a total cost in the low five figures. That won't kill a small business. Pushing the litigation costs before damages in the millions - that kills the small guys. Regulate your lawyers, guys.
          • by HiThere (15173)

            I can accept the possibility that there could be a reasonable patent system. We don't have one. The legal aspects that you point out do make things considerably worse, but the patent system itself is horribly broken...broken to the point that I doubt that any repair is possible. It was broken at least as early as the invention of the telephone, when three separate and independent inventors appeared and *one* was granted a patent. Evidence appears to indicate that it was broken considerably before that,

            • If the system was broken and impeding innovation even back to the invention of cotton gin, how in hell did we actually get to the amount of innovation that did happen? In the case of Eli Whitney - which I am not familiar with in detail - well, yes, if you get the patent, you will have to spend time on defending it. If that takes over your life - well, then your law firm sucks. In the case of the telephone - of course one gets the patent. The one filing the earliest, in a sane system that doesn't open the ca
              • In the case of the telephone - of course one gets the patent. The one filing the earliest, in a sane system that doesn't open the can of worms of "first to invent".

                Alas, this may not have happened in the case of the telephone. There is evidence that Elisha Gray both invented first and filed first. However, the examiner for Gray's application was an alcoholic who owed money to Bell's lawyer. Misery and controversy ensued, and Bell got the patent (not necessarily without skulduggery). Read this [wikipedia.org] for a discussion of the evidence both ways.

        • Patents were supposed to protect small businesses and startups with a new idea.

          Wrong. They were supposed to protect those with new inventions.

          "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

          An idea is little more than a wish. Put in the sweat and make something that works, and that's worthy of reward.

        • by HiThere (15173)

          Patents were supposed to protect small businesses and startups with a new idea. Now they're being used for extortion (a la ...

          I think you're believing the propaganda. Patents are, and always have been, about concentrating power into fewer hands. That's one reason that they are expensive to get, use, and defend against. Copyrights did not originally have that purpose, though they have come to. Copyrights should not be allowed on any material "protected" by a DRM system unless that material is filed in a

    • by theolein (316044)

      I agree, the only way the patent suit business will ever die is if it gets so bad that only the huge developers can afford to produce products anymore. What is much more likely, though, is that people will stop selling products in the US market and that the US market will stagnate and slowly die. The Americans are extremely bad at implementing any legal reforms due to the immense amount of lobbying going on there. Frankly, given the state of the US economy, one would think that the Americans would see the n

      • The Americans are extremely bad at implementing any legal reforms due to the immense amount of lobbying going on there.

        No, it's due to the ability of lawyers to work odd hours and practice tear-down speeches as part of their jobs. As such, they have plenty of free time to devote to "public service." e.g. getting involved in legislatures.

        It is a bad idea of the highest degree to allow lawyers to even have a say in the lawmaking process. After all, they have a vested interest not in the quality of laws but the quantity....

  • Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gilesjuk (604902) <[ku.oc.nez] [ta] [senoj.selig]> on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:54AM (#36785866)

    The irony that the US market is supposedly most free in the world yet patents are screwing it up.

    Surely more jobs and growth are being stifled by them than saved by them?

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      That is what no one seems to be noticing. This will not kill the mobile market or the app developers of the world. Just hurt folks in the USA. These are the sorts of things that export our wealth and our capital. The more of these patent lawsuits are filed over trivial software the more companies will want to stay out of or get out of our market.

    • And there's supposed to be free speech too. However, say things that people don't like and you will rapidly discover that is not true. Free markets only operate among the big players - and even then the freedom is really only a freedom to make their lawyers richer as they all sue each other over minor variations of insignificant products.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Free speech exists. You can say whatever you like without the government coming after you. Unless you are admitting to a crime or someone causing one with words. An example of the latter would be "Give me all your money" during a mugging.

        • by HiThere (15173)

          I think that you are quite naive, and probably live in suburbia. In a largely rural state.

          Although, when the actual problem is racism, I don't suppose that you could actually say that the person was injured because of "free speech violations". But not being properly subservient to an authority is frequently the only crime that one need commit to be either injured or prosecuted. And sometimes not even that. (One of the more common moving violations in the area where I live is called "Driving while black

          • by h4rr4r (612664)

            You are wrong on all counts. The police will charge you with something else if they don't like what you are saying. A fun one is resisting arrest after you fall when they push you as they arrest you for no reason at all.

            Still this is abuse by one person, not official government action. Travel outside the USA and see real lack of freedom of speech. When you can be charged and arrested and shown to be guilty of only saying something.

      • by t2t10 (1909766) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @11:47AM (#36786748)

        Free markets only operate among the big players

        Markets dominated by a few big players are by definition not free.

        Maybe you mean "unregulated markets"; that's something very different.

    • Re:Irony (Score:5, Insightful)

      by elashish14 (1302231) <profcalc4&gmail,com> on Saturday July 16, 2011 @11:01AM (#36786382)

      The irony that the US market is supposedly most free in the world yet patents are screwing it up.

      In America, freedom means 'freedom from government intervention.' What the translates to is slavery to private interests.

      If I were given the choice, I'd much rather be subject to government control rather than private interests, seeing as I would have at least some voice against the government...

      Surely more jobs and growth are being stifled by them than saved by them?

      Both of these statements are true. Small businesses are muscled out and replaced with a cubicle in a large corporate tower. But a corporation can never do wrong in America, even if they spill oil all over the Gulf of Mexico, so people run to them anyways.

      • Hey, that was a British multinational, not an American one!

        On a related note, Cuba is planning to do some deep water drilling using a Chinese built rig. What could possibly go wrong?

      • Re:Irony (Score:4, Insightful)

        by twem2 (598638) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @04:34PM (#36788788) Journal

        Except patents are a government creation. The corporate world rests upon government intervention upon their behalf.

      • The issue here *IS* exactly government control... it's the government granted monopolies in ideas, not even inventions... especially in those that don't pass the obviousness test. As to the large corporations polluting the environment around Louisiana, I'd look first to the corrupt politicians and their appointees.
    • by t2t10 (1909766)

      Patents are screwing up the US market because there are actually many independent software companies making money, and both big companies and patent trolls are trying to cash in.

      In Europe and Asia, the market is screwed up in other ways so that patents don't even have to come into play.

  • by belgianguy (1954708) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:57AM (#36785908)
    Poor developers, putting effort, time and money in creating something original and functional, only to get sued by some bigcorp lawyer shmuck which informs you that they own the rights on the product you just made. They'll kindly ask you to cease and desist before they unleash lawyer hell on you and sue you right into the poorhouse.

    If you want to make it in IT these days, you should become a lawyer, not a software developer.
    • Poor developers, putting effort, time and money in creating something original and functional, only to get sued by some bigcorp lawyer shmuck ...

      Not a "bigcorp lawyer shmuck". We are talking about Lodsys here which is a one man company. Which is in more trouble than these poor UK developers because they are themselves now being sued by server "bigcorp lawyers".

  • US nowadays (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cjcela (1539859) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @09:57AM (#36785914)
    Greed for power and money is crippling the US. Hope we realize how to stop this before we become a 3rd rank nation. Software patents, corrupted politicians, shortsighted MBAs, unscrupulous lawyers ... all of them are contributing to a quick degrade of business ethical values and to the loss of opportunities of the common man for the benefit of few. Sad state of affairs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The problem in the US is cultural. Everyone equates "prosperity", "progress" and "value" with "making more money". Therefore, it's not surprising that finance has become the central concern in business and indeed everyday life - enter the billions of MBA's to try to squeze every last penny out of every effort, the hordes of lawyers to defend those pennies, and the corrupt politicians to facilitate it all at the highest level.

      It used to be that the central concern in business was how much value your propos

      • by Teun (17872)

        The problem in the US is cultural. Everyone equates "prosperity", "progress" and "value" with "making more money". Therefore, it's not surprising that finance has become the central concern in business and indeed everyday life - enter the billions of MBA's to try to squeze every last penny out of every effort, the hordes of lawyers to defend those pennies, and the corrupt politicians to facilitate it all at the highest level.

        It used to be that the central concern in business was how much value your proposition brought, and that the expectation was that more value would equate to higher financial benefit. Although money was certainly part of the thinking, it was by no means the central point in the proposition.

        That's the fundamental change the american mind must undergo: it's not about how much you have, but how much *value* you provide (or, rather, how big your "(potential?) contribution to society" is). In essence, that's the true measure of how "great" (or not) a person or company is.

        BTW: I heard not too long ago that in underdeveloped nations, the single largest slice of college graduates were from law school (a significantly larger slice than the 2nd place profession) - and that that fact could be taken as an indicator to determine a nation's development status. Would be interesting to see where that is in the US...

        Cheers.

        +5 Insightful.
        Just a shame this Anonymous rant was invisible to those browsing the lazy way.

      • by cjcela (1539859)
        I agree with you - all the issues I've referred to in my original post are there because of the complacency of the average US Citizen; people do not react because they are afraid of losing the meager middle class possessions they have. But the lot for the average person and small business is shrinking by the day, as larger companies and political interests take over. So eventually there will be not much for the average Joe to care about. It will be an interesting process to watch. As an example, one can loo
    • I hope everyone responded to the USPTO's call for comments [slashdot.org] or contacted your Senator and US Representative about patent reform. Because that's the only way the US patent system is going to get fixed.

      Your congresscritter really does want to hear from you. It's your job to contact them, and ask them to reform software patents. Seriously, call their office, write them a letter (handwritten carries the most impact, but typed will do), or visit them in their office. Have some examples handy, like this one. I've

    • by HiThere (15173)

      The thing is, we're already a 3rd rank nation. We just haven't felt the sharp edge yet. The only way the US is a major power these days is via the military. Certainly not financially. Certainly not in manufacturing. And we're currently killing off research and development.

      I hope we fix things before we become a 4th rank nation. Or 5th. But I suspect that Russia may recover before we do.

  • That doesn't really know what he is talking about and run with the story. Just because he withdrew his App from the US market on the Apple App Store doesn't mean he still can't be sued. US & UK have multiple agreements in place to protect IP between them. The mere fact he had already sold software with infringing IP on the store opens him up to suits. (And no, I do not agree with the Lodsys suits, it is BS)

    If he was making decent money, the percentage of what Lodsys wanted was nothing compared to wha
    • by Xugumad (39311)

      > US & UK have multiple agreements in place to protect IP between them.

      However, software patents are not allowed in the UK (or Europe). Doesn't actually stop a few being issued, but I would presume a patent that's invalid in the UK would not be applied on behalf of the US.

      Well, I hope, anyway.

  • TFA's headline only says "withdraw from US", while the text says "app stores" - as in more than one, also note the non-capitalized spelling.
  • US is gonna die (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    can't wait to see it default on its trillions.

    fat ass american dipshits will get a rude shock.

    software patents are just one small symptom of your sick and twisted society

  • We escaped the Software Patent madness by a hair in the EU, but we escaped. Do it before August 2nd tho, or at least change your dollars to euros before that, or you will have to live under a bridge ;-)

    • by HiThere (15173)

      Check the immigration requirements. Having a skill isn't enough, you've got to be young enough. And, generally, have some legal connection to the country to which you want to emigrate. (Relatives are good, but there are often other possibilities.) Speaking the language is usually another requirement.

      I think that you must usually make the commitment before you are 30. (It's been over a decade since I checked, but I doubt that it's gotten easier.)

    • by PPH (736903)

      Can I rent a drawer in a filing cabinet for my corporation there?

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Saturday July 16, 2011 @11:51AM (#36786788) Homepage Journal

    I am always amazed at people who believe that government is there to help them, well, maybe some feel that because they are getting government checks, or are hoping to get them one day.

    But just look at the way government destroys free market and creates monopolies. You'd think that government wouldn't want monopolies for some reason (well, they say so) but in reality monopolies is governments' bread and butter. Government may be non-profit, but it's highly profitable to politicians, and others, who are near the trough. Monopolies have money to give to politicians and what would the competitive market participants give them and why?

    This is in everything, not just software. Look at the pharmaceutical industry: FDA costs are probably higher than any other costs of releasing a new drug into the market. I hear it takes 600 million dollars for one single drug to pass all of the steps, FDA requires from manufacturers, which means that there cannot be an independent small firm, bringing an independent drug into the market. This maybe the biggest cost out of all other costs - to pass through government regulations. So anybody creating a drug needs to get a sponsor - a large pharma company to do what the FDA requires.

    Now, if FDA only required to prove that the drug was safe for consumption, that's one thing. But they require the proof of efficacy - which means years of expensive studies, something that the market could have found much quicker and without this added cost, and something that actually causes real deaths, as people are not getting the drugs on time and the drugs are really expensive. Here is an interesting discussion on this matter, [youtube.com] which explains how government is working on making your food ever more expensive and reducing your choices in the market, helping out the large monopolies and destroying the competition.

    The patents are a huge problem, they are not there to help you. As with everything that governments do, the effect of their actions and regulations is the opposite one. So if they are talking about fighting monopolies, in reality they create them, and if they are talking about increasing the innovation in the market, in reality they are actively preventing and destroying it.

  • Afraid of patent lawsuits comrade? Come to Russia! In our new not-so-soviet country there are no stinking software patents. There also are a lot fewer lawyers. Income tax is only 13%. Being a self-employed app developer you will not have to worry about the unemployment, and as a hopeless nerd you will not have to worry about the weather (or, you could move to a southern region like Krasnodar). Come soon, there's plenty of vodka to go around!

  • The small independent developer is disadvantaged.

    Well, duh.

    Small businesses in the same fix have for several generations now formed cooperatives.

    The benefits include branding and promotion.

    Licensing and legal support. Technical support. Financing, and so on.

    The co-op sets standards.

    The co-op is market-oriented and the product it offers must be competitive. You won't get a buy if you try to sell them a rotten cabbage no matter how "green" your garden grows.

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

Working...