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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
    Don't you?
    • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @01:51PM (#32019102)

      Don't you?

      Sorry. I had chili for lunch. I'll open a Window ...

      HTC is hedging their bets (a smart move), but will this lead to disparate Android UI's between platforms?

      • by radish (98371)

        HTC is hedging their bets (a smart move), but will this lead to disparate Android UI's between platforms?

        We already have that: between the multiple different versions of Android itself and things like Motoblur or Sense - Android is a totally fragmented platform.

        • Or diverse, however you want to look at it.

          Saying it's fragmented is like saying "US business is fragmented, there's a bunch of small and large competitors who perform similar work!"

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by radish (98371)

            Agreed, it's semantics. But for me, if it allows me to choose the best solution for my needs it's diversity. If it hampers me and makes it hard to run what I want, it's fragmentation :) The problem is people who bought devices expecting (and in some cases being promised) upgrades who aren't getting them, and hence can't run specific apps. Say what you want about Apple, but at least an iPhone can run any app it has the appropriate hardware for - a consumer doesn't (yet!) have to worry about the OS version.

            • There are already apps that only run on the 3GS. It relates to the 3GS having OpenGL ES 2.0 vs the others only having 1.0 and 2.0 is not backwards compatible. If the rumored iPhone HD is true, expect more fragmentation. There is also now the iPad, with an even different screen resolution.
        • by mwvdlee (775178)

          Is it the entire Android platform that's fragmented or just the user interface?

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by TrancePhreak (576593)
            You can write an app for Android 1.5 and cover all devices if desired. The UI differences have no impact on outside apps.
      • by Chysn (898420)

        but will this lead to disparate Android UI's between platforms?

        We're going to have that anyway with Android, and HTC is the king of alternate UI for Android. The benefits and drawbacks are debatable, but at some point there will be devices running Android that can't even be readily identified as Android devices by a casual user.

      • by Burz (138833)

        They're hedging bets (or rather, buying "insurance" from MS) at the expense of the legal standing and reputation of the Linux community.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nazsco (695026)

        > HTC is hedging their bets (a smart move), but will this lead to disparate Android UI's between platforms?

        No. This will result in crippled android devices and in return microsoft will not cut their piece of profits on the windows phones.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        The fragmentation is only at the level of the top level GUI - almost like the difference between Windows Classic and the more recent styles. The apps will still run unchanged on all Android phones (assuming Android version compatibility) and that's the important thing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by izomiac (815208)
      I smell Microsoft making a money grab since HTC likely doesn't want to fight more than one major corporation in a patent war at the same time. So the royalties are probably a bit less than what said patent war would cost, and Microsoft gets a cut from the Android pie. It also hurts the iPhone slightly, which probably helps Microsoft.
      • by Jeng (926980)

        Pay Apple for patent infringement while they are a competitor, or license patents from a client that may block the infringement charges.

      • Re:I smell EVIL (Score:4, Insightful)

        by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @03:16PM (#32020754) Journal

        Given that some of the patents that Apple has invoked against HTC concern WinMo phones, it would seem that Microsoft has a stake in that fight alongside HTC.

      • HTC makes the best Windows Mobile phones (e.g. HD2). They made handsets with new hardware when few people would touch WinMo 6.5 with a ten foot pole. So of course Microsoft is interested in them remaining as a viable entity. Even if they sell Android handsets, anything that can take mindshare away from Apple is for them a good thing.
    • Me too!

      But really I'm low on karma.

    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      My guess is that HTC wants to be able to either stave off the Apple harassment or they want to gain Exchange connectivity.

      Honestly, if HTC were to come out with an Android phone with GOOD exchange support, they'd have a lot of the current WinMo fans in their pocket for the foreseeable future. THere are a lot of WinMo users who are pissed at MS for going to the Apple "only through our portal" way of doing things: they want to tinker. The WinMo mod scene is non-trivial in size, and are composed of largely tec

  • oooh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Monkey-Man2000 (603495) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @01:36PM (#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: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by dadioflex (854298)
      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 @04:14PM (#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.

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

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Rob Y. (110975)

            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 Mobil

            • by Lehk228 (705449)
              LOL WUT? netbooks are for sale everywhere. and they cost more because they have gotten quite a bit more capable.
        • 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.

        • 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 t

  • by butalearner (1235200) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @01:38PM (#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 @01:43PM (#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 @02:05PM (#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 h4rr4r (612664)

        Then they need to write their next contracts better.
        Also google should make sure any future "google phones" are not made by HTC. I am sure motorola or anyone of the many Chinese makers would be glad to do the work.

  • 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 @01:48PM (#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...

    • by smitty97 (995791) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @02:07PM (#32019370)

      no, it's more like Episode V, when Lando tells Han that they've just signed "a deal that'll keep the empire out of here forever"

      • by Ecuador (740021)

        So you are saying Microsoft is not the child prodigy that becomes a powerful evil force, but is instead the guy that is forced to betray his friend, but then saves him as well as his companions and goes on to become a rebel hero?

        Hmm, as I said before, Star Trek is more "my thing", so I might be missing things here...

        • by yincrash (854885)
          I think HTC is supposed to be Lando and Microsoft is the Empire.
          • by H0p313ss (811249)

            I think HTC is supposed to be Lando and Microsoft is the Empire.

            Does that make Android/Google the conflicted hero son of the dark overlord Bill Gates?

      • by Trogre (513942)

        If HTC are Lando and Microsoft are the Empire then I suggest that would make Apple the Trade Federation.

        Timeline? What timeline?

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

    by Facegarden (967477) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @01:52PM (#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)

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

      • 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)

          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.

          • 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 h4rr4r (612664)

              They can be awesome just like SuSe once was, I still won't buy from folks who make deals with the devil.

              • They can be awesome just like SuSe once was, I still won't buy from folks who make deals with the devil.

                Fair enough.

    • by symbolset (646467)

      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

      • 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

        • by symbolset (646467) *

          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, robu

  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @01:58PM (#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?...
  • 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!!!

    • First mate: YAAARGH! Microsoft spotted of the port side cap'in!
      (Microsoft vessel a huge ship with many cannons)
      Captain (with parrot on shoulder): The old foe returns! Blow 'em sky high! FIRE!
      First mate: But cap'in, we have no weapons!
      (zooms out, captain and first mate in 2-man row boat)

      Not to say that I don't agree with you, its just that we can't fight back with much.
      • we drain their treasury mate, we play robin hood with their booty

        • You have a point, but its hard to do that when you've got a wife, fresh mortgage and a kid on the way...

          Throwing yourself in the firing line drags those close to you into the crossfire as well (on the assumption that you get caught).
          • tens of millions of poor media hungry and technologically savvy teenagers from around the globe

            versus

            a couple thousand fucking lawyers

            who's going to win this contest?

            • While I can understand that the numbers stack in favour of the poor media hungry and technologically savvy teenagers, you have to recognise that lasers exist. Now, consider that lawyers are sharks, and that sharks with frigging lasers on their heads are a potent mix.

              I'm going to have to say it would be a massacre, with the sharks with friggin' lasers coming out on top.
  • by lophophore (4087) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @03:11PM (#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 jrumney (197329)
      Did Motorola make Windows Mobile phones before they started making Android phones? I don't recall any. Lawsuits from Microsoft often seem to be used as punishment for companies that switch away from Microsoft, and a deterrent for others considering the switch.
  • 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 final

  • MS vs HTC (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nite_Hawk (1304) on Wednesday April 28, 2010 @03:52PM (#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.

  • 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?
  • "Nice company you have there; it would be a shame if something were to happen to it."
  • 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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