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Google Cries Foul, Complains About Patent Trolls and Patent Privateering to FTC/DoJ

Together with BlackBerry, EarthLink and Red Hat, Google has submitted application to the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice about patent trolls, asking them to investigate the issue as it wants other companies to work with them to develop cooperative licensing agreements that can help curb privateering.

“”Patent Trolls”, is where a company sells patents to trolls with the goal of waging asymmetric warfare against its competitors. These trolls then use the patents to sue with impunity. And, the transferring company hides behind the troll to shield itself from litigation, and sometimes even arranges to get a cut of the money extracted by troll lawsuits and licenses.”

“Trolls are costing U.S. economy nearly $30 billion a year–and it hurt consumers and are increasingly going after small businesses, hampering innovation and reducing competition,” Google stated.

This trend is popularly been referred to as “patent privateering,” that lets a company split its patent portfolio into smaller sub-portfolios “stacked” on each other, increasing the number of entities a firm must negotiate with and multiplying licensing costs.

This behavior unfairly raises competitors’ costs, ultimately driving up prices for consumers, google adds.

In other Google related legal news, the search company has filed a petition against a government request for information after receiving a “National Security Letter” on March 29, to set aside a legal process.

Kevan Fornasero, a lawyer for Google said in the filing that petitions “filed under Section 3511 of Title 18 to set aside legal process issued under Section 2709 of Title 18 must be filed under seal because Section 2709 prohibits disclosure of the legal process.”

The section 2709 specifically refers to the ability of the FBI to issue NSLs and force the handover of user data. But because Section 2709 doesn’t allow firms to disclose the legal process, few people can be certain that others haven’t tried to stand up to the U.S. government.

According to Matt Zimmerman, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Google is one of the first communications companies to fight an NSL. Adding, “The people who are in the best position to challenge the practice are people like Google,” he said. “So far no one has really stood up for their users’ among large Internet service providers.”

And, some other Google news, those looking for the right font for their website or blog, now when search for a font on Google Web Fonts, (and if that font isn’t available)–Goole has begun to show additional fonts available from Monotype.

Each result is shown in the actual font so you can easily preview your options.

To get more information on a font, simply click the link under it’s name.

Google Web Fonts now show additional monotype fonts

Update 04/09: Fairsearch Europe group, which comprises of Google’s competitors, including: Nokia, Microsoft, Oracle and other compaines, have filed a formal complaint with European antitrust regulators about Google’s Android mobile operating system, even as they move to the final stages of their inquiry into the company’s search practices.

The complaint accuses Google of using the Android software “as a deceptive way to build advantages for key Google apps in 70 percent of the smartphones shipped today,” said Thomas Vinje, the lead lawyer for Fairsearch Europe, referring to Android’s share of the smartphone market.

In an interview on Monday, the European Union’s antitrust chief, JoaquĆ­n Almunia, declined to comment on the new complaint but said officials had been examining the Android operating system independently of the two-year inquiry into whether Google had abused its dominance of Internet search.

Mr. Almunia also said that he was receiving proposals this week from Google to clear up concerns about its search practices, and that he hoped they would make it easier for Internet users to identify when Google was promoting its own services rather than those of competitors who might offer better results.

“This is a new step in the investigation,” he said.

“I don’t know if you should call it labeling, or whatever, but they need to distinguish,” Mr. Almunia said.

A Google spokesman, Al Verney, would not specifically discuss either the new complaint or the comments by Mr. Almunia about the search case, saying only that the company continued “to work cooperatively” with the commission.

Update 04/13: Google has submitted an offer to the EU that will soon be shown to rivals and customers as part of settlement talks to end the probe into claims its search results discriminate competitors to avoid potential fines and other penalties.

The EU is investigating Google’s search business and its rivals have made nearly weekly entreaties to the EU regulator to take action. “In the last few weeks, the commission completed its preliminary assessment formally setting out its concerns,” Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for Almunia, said.

“On this basis, Google then made a formal submission of commitments to the commission. We are now preparing the launch of a “Market Test” to seek feedback from market players, including complainants, on these commitment proposals,” Colombani added.

In a related storyU.K. based Internet mapping provider Streetmap had filed a lawsuit in London on March 15 against Google–alleging that Streetmap is harmed by “search bias” or Google’s promotion of Google Maps in search results have made its products “harder to find.”

Streetmap said its complaint mirrors an antitrust probe by the European Union into whether Google favors its own services over competitors in search results.

“We have had to take this action in an effort to protect our business and attract attention to those that, like us, have started their own technology businesses, only to find them damaged by Google’s cynical manipulation of search results,” Kate Sutton, commercial director of Streetmap, said in the statement.

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