Opera Dev Bites at Apple for Undermining Open Standards with "Malicious" Patent Grabs

Paul Lilly

Opera Software developer Haavard Moen digitally penned a scathing blog post in which he stops just short of calling Apple an outright patent troll. Though he didn't use the term, he didn't pull any punches in exposing what he believes are Apple's attempts to use invalid or irrelevant patents or patent applications for the sole purpose of undermining open standards, something Apple has done before, according to Moen.

"A couple of years ago, I reported on how Apple was using patents to block a W3C specification," Moen states on his blog with the disclaimer that his views are his own and don't necessarily represent those of Opera Software.

"The end-result was that the patent didn't seem to be relevant to the specification at all, and one or both of them were even rejected by the patent office. That Apple would use invalid or irrelevant patents or patent applications to block or delay an open standard seems odd, but if you look at their general behavior during the whole thing, it is easy to conclude that the intent was indeed malicious," Moen continued.

Looking back, Moen wishes he would have reported Apple's behavior at the time and wants to be sure to have no regrets this time around, because according to Moen, Apple is at it again with another attempt to block open standards using patents.

Moen points to four patent claims Apple filed at the last minute for what he believes is an attempt to block the W3C touch events specification. Apple filed the claims just over a month before the time limit expired.

"The odd thing is that Apple chose not to join the working group that handles touch events," Moen said. "If they had joined, they would have been forced to file the patent claims far sooner. So now we know why they didn't join. What we don't know is why Apple insists on waiting almost until the last minute before filing its patent claims."

According to Moen, Apple's patent tactics don't just affect the specific standards in question, but could also slow development of other standards if the Patent Advisory Groups pull people from other projects to investigate Apple's claims.

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