[svlug] 3G for smartphones has "monstrous patent issues"

Chris DiBona cdibona at gmail.com
Mon Apr 6 13:27:54 PDT 2009

It is worth pointing out that the patent fees are usually built into
the bill of materials at teh factory, and usually includes radio,
codec and other patents on the device.


On Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 12:26 PM, Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com> wrote:
> News from the Embedded Systems Conference held recently in San Jose.
> http://techpulse360.com/2009/03/31/esc09-open-moko-is-the-anti-iphone-runs-google-android-but-still-no-3g/
> This explains why there's no 3G[1] in the Neo FreeRunner, and no prospects
> for those for (just guessing) the next ten years in any fully open
> source 'phone.  OTOH, Openmoko, Inc. CEO Sean Moss-Pulz says it'd be
> possible for 3G Openmoko 'phones to be developed with the 3G features
> accessible via a binary blob with a stable, defined interface.  (I'm
> unclear on why using a binary blob helps address a _patent_ problem.
> My guess is that it's a measure to prevent patent owners from
> _determining_ whether an implementation infringes their patents.)
> The Openmoko company assessed these and other problems and decided to
> defer indefinitely development of a 3G model GTA03, and concentrate on
> finishing, to production consumer levels, the current GTA02 aka FreeRunner
> model that I have:
> http://lists.openmoko.org/pipermail/community/2009-April/044905.html
> http://lists.openmoko.org/pipermail/community/2009-April/044915.html
> http://lists.openmoko.org/pipermail/community/2009-April/045019.html
> By the way, Openmoko's firmware isn't available in source form either
> (although it's actively developed and the 'phone has reflashable ROMs),
> because Openmoko, Inc. has interpreted FCC regulations as requiring that
> end-users be denied access to that source code.
> There's reason to doubt whether that interpretation is correct; it's
> merely something repeated frequently by hardware manufacturers.  E.g.,
> the Atheros people swore up and down that it was illegal to open source
> the blob for their 802.11g chipset, on grounds of those exact same
> vaguely worded FCC regs.  And yet, the reverse-engineered replacement
> for that blob has been extremely public for about two years, and FCC has
> taken no action whatsoever.
> [1] 3G = third-generation standards for wireless 'phones, involving among
> other things faster data rates for GSM using spectrum-spreading "EDGE"
> (Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution) network-access techniques.
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Open Source Programs Manager, Google Inc.
Google's Open Source program can be found at http://code.google.com
Personal Weblog: http://dibona.com

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