Friday, August 7, 2009

Google Open Source Strategy Not Just A Patent Dodge

Matt Asay, whose views have become increasingly corporate as the recession has ground on, wrote yesterday that Google may be investing in open source as a patent dodge.

Of course, it wasn’t his opinion he was stating. He was just quoting the speculation of a Gartner analyst, Brian Prentice.

A politician couldn’t do that better. “I’m not saying my esteemed opponent is a duck. I’m just quoting an analyst who claims to have heard a quack.”

Fact is Google has been a long-time advocate of patent reform. And on this issue it is also, like the rest of the computer industry, a long-time loser.

Nothing Machiavellian is going on here. Google has been very honest about its views, and in its advocacy.

Google has lost this battle before because the pharmaceutical and medical device makers refuse to go along. Software patents are routinely issued that cover a wide range of programs. Drug and device patents cover specific compounds or devices. Their reach is more limited, and their protection more important in those industries.

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