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Microsoft Signs Android Patent Deal With HTC 174

Posted by timothy
from the patent-hook-or-patent-crook dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Microsoft and HTC have signed a patent deal that will provide broad coverage under Microsoft's patent portfolio for HTC's mobile phones running the Android mobile platform. The announcement comes in the wake of a massive patent suit from Apple, which alleged 20 instances of patent infringement on the part of HTC."
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Microsoft Signs Android Patent Deal With HTC

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  • I smell EVIL (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @02:36PM (#32018894)
    Don't you?
  • oooh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Monkey-Man2000 (603495) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @02:36PM (#32018896)
    This sounds like there's potential for a knock-down-drag-out fight between Microsoft/HTC and Apple (and tangentially Google). Should be good. I'll cook the popcorn...
    • Re:oooh (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dadioflex (854298) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @02:57PM (#32019172)
      Hmm. It's not like Microsoft and HTC have formed some sort of coalition. HTC cut a deal with Microsoft to avoid ANOTHER drag out fight, this time over potential/perceived infringement of MS IP. MS won't be going up against Apple because of this.
      • Re:oooh (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Flambergius (55153) * on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @05:14PM (#32021844)

        I don't pretend to know what "broad coverage" means, but if MS wanted to fight Apple, doing via open source proxy would be an ideal way to do it. HTC does the fighting and MS provides the ammunition. All the risks are with HTC and MS is at least partly insulated from bad press it would get in a direct confrontation with Apple. And the situation could be very bad for Apple: they are going after an open source platform, with all the bad press that going to bring on them, but they are also going against one the most intimidating patent portfolios there is, and one of the few companies with a war chest to match theirs, and they would have a lot to lose, while MS doesn't.

        • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @05:58PM (#32022580) Journal

          That strategy worked so well with SCO now didn't it?

          • Re:oooh (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Rob Y. (110975) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @06:53PM (#32023350)

            It worked well enough with SCO. It delayed Linux acceptance enough and for long enough for Win7 to come out. Some would argue (I wouldn't) that the linux desktop window of opportunity is now closed.

            It worked (in another form of delaying tactic) to kill the netbook. You don't even see netbooks advertised much these days, and those you do see are more expensive than they used to be (presumably because Win7 starter isn't essentially free like XP was).

            If MS can hold back Android long enough for Windows Mobile 2 to come out - that's the most MS can hope for. Worth a few million bucks to them easily. Evil, but it is a workable strategy.

        • by CarpetShark (865376) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @06:04PM (#32022664)

          but if MS wanted to fight Apple, doing via open source proxy would be an ideal way to do it.

          Or they could just throw a chair.

        • by JakartaDean (834076) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @05:35AM (#32027636) Journal

          if MS wanted to fight Apple...

          You're kidding right? If you're MS, you can choose to have a near-total monopoly on desktop operating systems, and all the attention that brings from regulators and customers concerned about lock-in, or you can choose the status quo. What's so good about the status quo? You have the world's best competitor: tiny market share but very visible, with sky-high prices. MS isn't worried about Apple, they love them to death. They support Apple with versions of MS Office, just to make sure Apple doesn't go out of business. They're probably scared of Linux, but I don't know that for sure -- I would be, as Ubuntu gets more publicity and both gnome and kde get better (debatable in the case of kde4, I know).

  • by butalearner (1235200) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @02:38PM (#32018922)

    Beneath that rhetoric of unity, however, is an implication that, given the chance, Microsoft may go after other Android handset manufacturers who infringe on its IP.

    Not likely. Once it goes to court their whole racketeering operation will have to shut down. Far better to bank out of court settlements based on vague threats than going the Apple route and listing the patents begging for invalidation.

  • Sue (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @02:43PM (#32018986)

    Google should sue anyone who makes a deal with Microsoft. Because what's the point if you have to pay Microsoft for using Android?

    • Re:Sue (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @03:05PM (#32019332)

      What grounds is Google supposed to sue on? It's not like you can just sue people for pissing you off.

      That's beside the point though. Microsoft doesn't make phones. Microsoft makes a phone OS. It needs other companies to make the hardware, as does Google. Given that HTC seems to be the industry darling when it comes to producing hardware for 3rd party OS's these days, it's likely that Microsoft simply made a non-monetary agreement with HTC - if they keep making Windows phones, they are in the clear regarding MS patents for other systems.

  • by spire3661 (1038968) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @02:44PM (#32019010) Journal
    I really enjoy my Palm Pre Plus, but its 'software ecosphere' is really suffering. This news reinforces that fact.
  • by Ecuador (740021) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @02:48PM (#32019060) Homepage

    We're talking about episode VI, right? Vader kills the Emperor?
    So I guess, this is enough for Microsoft (or its ghost) to be welcomed by Yoda, Obi-Wan or the /. crowd?

    Hmm, on the other hand I was always a Star Trek fan myself, so I might be shooting blanks here...

  • The big picture. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Facegarden (967477) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @02:52PM (#32019110)

    As Engadget points out (or maybe just theorizes), the licencing fee for android patents is about the same as the regular licence fee for Windows Mobile (aka Windows Phone 7), thereby making it a wash for phone developers.

    They're really just trying to level the playing field (in a shitty way).
    -Taylor

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @03:06PM (#32019352)

      That is not leveling the playing field, that is a protection racket. Leveling the playing field would be making WinCE cost near nothing.

      • by Facegarden (967477) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @03:18PM (#32019562)

        That is not leveling the playing field, that is a protection racket. Leveling the playing field would be making WinCE cost near nothing.

        Well, it is still leveling the playing field. I certainly wasn't trying to imply that what they're doing is okay, and although it boils down to a protection racket, i feel like their real plan is to make android cost the same as WinMo, not just get protection money. The point isn't the money (which is normally why people collect protection funds), its promoting winmo.
        -Taylor

        • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @03:25PM (#32019748)

          Fine both mean the DOJ needs to get involved, but that will never happen.

          Either way, I am going to be sure in the future I do not buy any phone made by anyone who paid MS a dime. So glad I did not get an eris.

          • by Facegarden (967477) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @03:33PM (#32019888)

            Fine both mean the DOJ needs to get involved, but that will never happen.

            Either way, I am going to be sure in the future I do not buy any phone made by anyone who paid MS a dime. So glad I did not get an eris.

            Sadly, HTC is awesome. I've been a customer of theirs for years and have never been let down by the hardware. Currently on a Nexus One and love it.

            I'll try not to worry about what their accountants and laywers decide, because their hardware guys are amazing. Unless this gets worse though, I suppose. I'm more just sickened by the thought of continuing to pay Microsoft for licensing a phone with an OSS OS. I thought i decided to stop paying them for phones a long time ago...
            -Taylor

    • by symbolset (646467) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @10:47PM (#32025780) Journal

      Microsoft getting paid for every device whether or not they participated at all in its creation is not "levelling the playing field". The reality distortion field is really strong up there in Redmond, isn't it? That's the only POV you could be coming from to be looking at this as levelling a field unfairly tilted against Microsoft. That is, you'ld have to be from a rather different planet than the rest of us.

      This deal might hold up for a while, but eventually we'll all read about every sordid detail in court papers on Groklaw. The Machiavellian bastards who could get away with this sort of thing have long since retired.

      Microsoft isn't suffering in mobile because they're being undercut by cheaper options, either. They're losing share in mobile because their products are, and have for a long time been, utter unforgivable crap forced down the throats of manufacturers through sheer market force. Consumers in business struggled long and hard against the crashing apps, the rebooting platforms, the sluggish performance, the antiquated interfaces. They gave it a good go, because they believed in the power of Microsoft and it's ability to somehow someday make it right and they were disappointed. Now they've been there, done that, don't need to go there again.

      The iPhone has none of that - it just works. Likewise the Android phones. Even though - as is alleged - Microsoft is throwing Intel under the bus to deliver as much as they can of Windows 7 on ARM, it doesn't change the fact that their code bloat, their performance issues, their security issues, their legacy architectures will inevitably drag the platform into the dirt. Perhaps that's for the best as Microsoft extends it's marginally acceptible "7" branding to this platform in the hope of salvaging WinMo, degrading the value of the number 7 as well.

      • by Facegarden (967477) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @11:33PM (#32026078)

        The reality distortion field is really strong up there in Redmond, isn't it? That's the only POV you could be coming from to be looking at this as levelling a field unfairly tilted against Microsoft....

        You are very incorrect. I live in silicon valley, and have never been to washington. I hate windows mobile and ditched it *years* ago, never to look back. I am a rabid fan of Android and shelled out for a nexus one as soon as they hit AT&T. I had a G1 for a year before that.

        I never implied that the playing field was fairly or unfairly tilted, just that it is tilted. Of course, its tilted because windows mobile is complete crap and they charge for it, when android is amazing and free. I merely said that they are *trying* to level the playing field, by making them both cost money.

        Though for what it's worth, Windows Series 7 isn't just a rebranding, it's re-written from scratch and actually isn't even compatible with windows mobile at all (so there are no legacy architectures, for example). They recently showed off screenshots of what WinMo 7 was going to be before they scrapped it (crap) - and then it was very much scrapped. I don't personally care, Android is amazing and I don't feel like supporting some fledgling platform that's going to be way behind android, but I do think it will be better than WinMo (which is not saying much).

        So chill out. I'm not some brainwashed redmond zombie; you hugely misinterpreted what I said. And I already responded to someone making the same complaint earlier today somewhere down this thread...
        -Taylor

        • by symbolset (646467) * on Thursday April 29, 2010 @12:42AM (#32026456) Journal

          Although Android is FOSS most companies that use it actually pay Google for integration services and apps. It's only free for the companies that don't do this, and HTC isn't one of those I don't think. So Android isn't always free even if it's FOSS.

          Windows Phone 7 and Windows Embedded 7 are a rebranding. They have nothing to do with Windows 7. Perhaps they're also a rewrite but they've rebooted the development team twice in the past 2 years. It seems unlikely they've managed to develop a secure, robust, user friendly OS from scratch that's multi-platform friendly since the last reboot. Exceedingly unlikely, considering who they work for and that boss's output in the realm to date. If the products are of the poor quality one would expect from that history and the incredible depth of suck that is the history of Windows Mobile and Windows Embedded then the only thing this will accomplish is to rub off what little shine is on Windows 7 by associating it with products with absolutely no redeeming value.

          Windows 7 doesn't quite suck as much as Microsoft's previous OS products. It seems relatively stable and for the most part doesn't suck all of the performance out of energy efficient platforms. The security seems to have somewhat more of a reasonable balance between insecure and unusable. It may one day reach 60% share on the desktop if Microsoft doesn't screw it up. It doesn't yet have enough positive inertia to tow sucktackular phone and embedded products into common acceptance and every bit of lift W7 gives up right now sets back a lot of other stuff.

          Most likely what HTC has done here is pulled an EV1 [wikipedia.org]. The end result will probably be the same. Robert Marsh (headsurfer) became disgusted with the backlash (customer flight, hate mail, vilification in the press, death threats) from the one bad decision of paying $800k for Linux license from SCO under an NDA contract that let SCO spin the deal into more than $3M in the press. He sold out to a venture capital group. Everyone's Internet was absorbed by ThePlanet, removing the tarnish of the EV1 brand applied with this bad deal. EV1 is no more. This is very probably the end result that Microsoft was looking for in driving the HTC deal - threaten with lawyers and offer a sweet compromise with secret terms, filled with hidden poison. When all the geeks that adored HTC/Android for its openness vomit vitriol all over it for this sellout, they either abandon their Android efforts and embrace Windows Embedded 7, or wither and die. It's a win/win for Microsoft. That's some slick strategy - we'll see if it pays off. Like I said though, one day the details will be available on Groklaw [groklaw.net]. Note that absolutely none of this has anything to do with the relative value or merits of the platforms, software or IP claims. This is a very competetive IT phase, and it's best if your CEO isn't a pussy. It would also be good if when the Microsoft lawyers came calling everybody remembered that IT'S A TRAP! Novell is suffering some of the same abuse from their deal with the devil. If you dance with the devil, you will pay his fee.

  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @02:58PM (#32019200)
    Here I thought Google was going to stand behind the manufacturers who were supporting Android. I wonder where they went when Microsoft called HTC?...
  • by smitty97 (995791) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @03:05PM (#32019330)

    It's a trap!

  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @03:10PM (#32019430) Homepage Journal

    which one is farnsworth and which one is rca so i know who to root for?

    http://www.physlink.com/education/askexperts/ae408.cfm [physlink.com]

    ip law doesn't reward inventors. ip law rewards assholes with big pockets. as this case shows, ip law is a farce, its a way for big companies to waste a lot of money on lawyer whores

    if you are the little guy who thinks that copyright is for authors, and patents are for inventors, you're a fool

    ip law is for distributors and large corporations. real creators are screwed. stop being naive

    in the name of the highest ideals of western democracy, fuck ip law, it should be actively undermined and destroyed by anyone with morality and principles. we can't work through our governments and legislators, they're all whores to the patronage system. its up to the common man to destroy the entire rotten edifice

    i'm not talking about revolution or any such nonsense. i'm talking about piracy. i'm talking about hitting them in their wallets. with any luck, we can bankrupt the organizations that profit from the idea of "intellectual property", and thereby destroy the validity of the idea itself in anyone's eyes

    aarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!

  • by lophophore (4087) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @04:11PM (#32020626) Homepage

    I looked at as much press as I could find about this, and I cannot find anything that says exactly what IP Android infringes on. I smell a rat.

    Has anybody seen anything that names the protected IP? What is it in Android that infringes on Microsoft's IP? And if Android does infringe, why aren't they going after Motorola?

    More Linux FUD from Microsoft and friends.

  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @04:11PM (#32020632)

    Seriously - how the crap can anyone point to the patent system and say that it promotes innovation?

    Small company might run afoul of a larger one, so it finds another larger one to partner with. Sort of a mutually-assured-destruction patent scenario. The product doesn't change a single bit. It still infringes on whatever Apple patents it may have infringed upon. It just has a new benefactor that Apple knows it cannot beat in a patent war.

    Software patents are so broken it's insane. When will we finally ditch the whole idea?

  • MS vs HTC (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nite_Hawk (1304) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @04:52PM (#32021460) Homepage

    I doubt MS forced HTC's hand on this one. They've arguably been the only thing keeping windows mobile from being a complete failure. They've consistently released the best selling windows mobile phones with the best hardware and UIs available. Sure everyone likes getting money, but anything HTC can give MS is chump change. Hell, MS gives away money just for using bing to buy stuff. I imagine the untold details of this arrangement have much more to do with how HTC will help MS make WinMo7 succeed. MS needs a high quality phone line-up for WinMo7 and HTC has consistently given them that in the past. Who else can they realistically turn to? Sony? Motorola? Samsung? None of them were able to offer windows mobile phones that were nearly as compelling as HTC's.

    Interestingly enough we are seeing the same thing play out in the android universe. Other than the Droid HTC phones are dominating the field. It's in both Google and MS's best interests to keep HTC alive, happy and hopefully developing the best phones for their platform. It's no coincidence that Apple is targeting them.

  • by AlgorithMan (937244) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @06:00PM (#32022594) Homepage
    So Microsoft uses its patents against a Linux (Android is a Linux). Didn't the Open Inventions Network (Google, HP, Sun, IBM, ...) promise to sue every company X doing this based on EVERY SINGLE patent they own and that are violated by X?
  • by uassholes (1179143) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @07:52PM (#32024138)
    "Nice company you have there; it would be a shame if something were to happen to it."
  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Thursday April 29, 2010 @01:25AM (#32026708) Homepage Journal
    There's long years of history regarding those companies that entered into agreements with Microsoft. As usual, it's a company with technology that Microsoft does not have. Grab your bowl of popcorn and enjoy the show - but don't be distracted by the Google / Apple / MS bickering. HTC is the company to watch as they learn what so many others have over the years. Very few (if any) companies survive making technology deals with Microsoft.

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