- U.S. Patent No. 5,946,647: a patent for data being used as a hyperlink
- U.S. Patent No. 8,086,604: a unified search patent
- U.S. Patent No. 8,046,721: a slide-to-unlock patent
- U.S. Patent No. 8,074,172: a word completion patent
Apple is requesting that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus be blocked from sale in the United States because it violates these patents. Should the court find in favor of Apple, a ban against the Galaxy Nexus would be put in effect until the final court decision.
Could it happen? Certainly. But if it does, it won't go into effect any time soon, it would only affect stores inside the U.S. selling these products, and no jack-booted thugs from Cupertino will come pry your Nexus from your hands. We can't be sure how the courts will act, but all of these are pretty shaky patents, and once again Apple is not going after Google directly -- even though the Galaxy Nexus has a pure vanilla version of Android. The only certainty here is that the patent system is broken and only serves the company willing to spend the most in the courts.
It's time for Google to step in and put a stop to this bullshit. The first patent in question is the same one that was upheld against HTC in a move that shocked the tech community at large, essentially giving Apple the rights to the hyperlink -- something invented over 20 years ago by numerous companies that aren't Apple.
The other three are just as laughable, or would be if not for the fact that Apple was allowed to secure the patents at all. Every single one of them has existed as prior art long before Apple became relevant, yet a patent was granted each and every time. This is the core of the problem. You can't blame Apple for trying, it's cheaper to litigate away your competition than it is to out-innovate them. And make no mistake -- that's exactly what's going on here. Apple wants Android to go away, and a look at any chart that shows market share will tell you why. It's a shitty way to get ahead, but it's too easy not to try. It's going to take a tech giant to change the way this all works, and we know nobody can count on Apple or Microsoft to do it, because this is their system, created the way they like it, and making them rich. If Apple is afraid to go after Google, Google needs to go after Apple instead of sitting on their laurels waiting to ride in and save the day at the last minute.
Now blast away in the comments, telling me how subsection F of title code XXIVI (or some other ridiculous lawyer speak) makes my points invalid. In reality, they make it even more valid -- spending money on lawyers, and twisting common sense into something that kills your competition works with the current patent system. That makes us sad.