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Google patent lawyer on Microsoft: 'marginalized' business is behind legal action

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Google patent counsel Tim Porter says the patent system is broken, allowing obvious ideas to be patented and encouraging litigation that could stifle innovation.

Wendell Moore pogo stick
Wendell Moore pogo stick

Google's patent counsel, Tim Porter, sat down with The San Francisco Chronicle to talk patents — a followup to the Chronicle's earlier interview with Microsoft patent counsel Horacio Gutierrez. It's an interesting interview — Porter says the main problem with the system is that too many broadly-written patents are granted. The problem isn't software patents as a concept, according to Porter, but he says the USPTO should use common sense, have clear boundaries for what's patentable, and make damages more reasonable to reduce incentives to sue over minor components.

Echoing earlier comments from Google, Porter also accused Microsoft of using patent litigation to skim revenue off successful companies because it has failed to gain significant share in the mobile phone market — quite the opposite from Gutierrez, who said that Google is standing on the shoulders of companies like Microsoft. Clearly, Google isn't happy about Microsoft's success in extracting licensing agreements from smartphone manufacturers. Both interviews are linked below, they're an interesting read.