Opera claims Apple patent trolling open standards

Opera developer Haavard Moen claims that Cupertino is waging a clandestine war to kill off open web standards using patent troll tactics and blocking their finalisation.

Moen said that Apple used two patent applications to prevent a W3C standard from proceeding in 2010. This patent claim was filed at the very last minute and was much like a similar attempt in 2009.

This year Apple is trying the same trick. This time it is lobbing four claims that threaten to block the W3C Touch Events Specification. Again Apple filed them at the last minute with the aim of floating a mine into a coming standard.

Moen points out that Apple chose not to join the working group that handles touch events. If it had joined, it would have had to file the patent claims far sooner.

Historically, each time Apple waives one of its patents at a web standards body it is found not to be relevant and the standards body has to form a patent advisory group, which takes a while to make a decision. In short it’s a delay tactic.

Apple’s antics don’t affect these specific standards and could cause the whole open web standards process to grind to a halt while everyone waits for one patent advisory group to make a ruling.

Writing from his bog, Moen maoned that this is time, resources and money that could have been spent on improving various other work-in-progress standards.

Moen might have a bit of an axe to grind against Apple. After all, Apple did finally let his browser into the App Store – but you had to be over 17 years old to download it.

But we have been watching the patent troll arm of Apple extending itself considerably recently. Lately we have seen Apple deal with Samsung’s competition by trying, unsuccessfully, to get its products banned from the shelves.

But Moen still has not explained why delaying Open Web Standards as an official Apple policy actually helps the company. In fact, as Ars Technica points out the prior art that PAGs can uncover could jeopardise the patents themselves.

Apple so far has been seen as a supporter of some open standards and has worked on WebKit and with W3C. So quite why it needs to stick an iSpanner in the works is anyone’s guess.