Google Chairman Eric Schmidt Says Apple and Google Will Resolve Issues 'the Adult Way' - Mac Rumors:

The adult way to run a business is to run it more like a country. They have disputes, yet they've actually been able to have huge trade with each other. They're not sending bombs at each other.

I think both Tim [Cook, Apple's CEO] and Larry [Page, Google's CEO], the sort of successors to Steve [Jobs] and me if you will, have an understanding of this state model.

This metaphor scares me a little, though obviously it's already the world we live in.  The real empires use legacy empires as foundation.  On one hand, I'm happy to have patent squabbles out of the courts, but I'm upset with the implicit connotation that corporations should essentially be making law.

For me, I think the bottom line is that [the current system of] patents let copyright overreach its useful bounds.

Macrumors paraphrases more of the interview thusly [sic]: "He also noted that the litigation would continue for "a while" and that the big loser is not Apple or Google, but a smaller company trying to get an operating system off the ground as they wouldn't have the necessary patent coverage."

Is that accurate?  What does Linux do for mobile devices?  I'm completely in the dark here.  Is Linux allowed to use patents because nobody sued early enough to protect them?  Or does Linux not violate patents?  Is "everything" in Linux (pick a distro) based on "prior art"?  Certainly Red Hat has pockets deep enough to sue, right?  If Fedora (or whatever Linux they're running) tripped up on patents, you'd think they'd would be sued -- or that the non-pursuit means the protection of those patents (though here I notice I'm stupidly conflating (c) with patents) is void?

That is, if I put DistroX on a hand-held device, how could that violate a patent any more than DistroX on a mobile device?

I wish the FSF would release MobileHurd and have pockets deep enough to protect against suits -- sort of a detente invoked by the fear of mutually assured annihilation.  But then I'd be using state-based metaphors.

EDIT: Some reading:
EDIT2: More reading and a quote:

So if Microsoft ever sued Linux distributor Red Hat for patent infringement, for instance, OIN might sue Microsoft in retaliation, trying to enjoin distribution of Windows. It's a cold war, and what keeps the peace is the threat of mutually assured destruction: patent Armageddon - an unending series of suits and countersuits that would hobble the industry and its customers

"It's a tinderbox," Moglen says. "As the commercial confrontation between [free software] and software-that's-a-product becomes more fierce, patent law's going to be the terrain on which a big piece of the war's going to be fought. Waterloo is here somewhere."

Cue the Admiral.

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