Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft Android Businesses Patents The Almighty Buck

Microsoft's Hottest New Profit Center: Android 276

Posted by Soulskill
from the follow-the-money dept.
jbrodkin writes "One of Microsoft's hottest new profit centers is a smartphone platform you've definitely heard of: Android. Google's Linux-based mobile operating system is a favorite target for Microsoft's patent attorneys, who are suing numerous Android vendors and just today announced that another manufacturer has agreed to write checks to Microsoft every time it ships an Android device. Vendors paying off Microsoft for the right to use Android now include HTC, Velocity Micro, General Dynamics, Onkyo Corp. and Wistron. Microsoft likely makes more money from Android than its own Windows phone platform, and its latest patent agreement announced Tuesday indicates Microsoft is also going after Google's Linux-based Chromebooks."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Microsoft's Hottest New Profit Center: Android

Comments Filter:
  • So Microsoft is becoming even more a lawyer company, and a bit less a technical one. If this is true, I won't bet one Microsoft share's raising again.... Did they hire SCO attorneys or laywers? :-)
    • by x6060 (672364) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @04:31PM (#36665308)
      I hear if you say Darl McBrides name 3 times in a mirror he will appear and speak to you about his litigation techniques. A few days later you'll receive a cease and desist followed by a lawsuit about trade secrets from Microsoft.
      • by sqldr (838964)
        None of the above happened, but I'll be sending you a bill for the mirror.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Sprouticus (1503545)

      As much as the anti-MS crowd on slashdot would like this to be true, just saying this does not make it the case. Even if MS got $10 for EVERY Android device, and the 500k untils/month I found on wikipedia is close to accurate, that is 6 million units per year, or $60 million a year. And even if you say that other patent troll-esque licensing agreements multiply that by 10x again to $600 million a year

      Microsoft made almost 17 billion last quarter.

      Microsoft is a lot of things, but they are not SCO. They are n

    • I was told this is a true story (though I probably remember some of it wrong) -

      IBM's Nazgul came calling at SUN one day and demands licensing fee for several patents. After some internal reviews of the patents in question, SUN concluded that there are no merit to IBM's claims. IBM's Nazgul were completely unfazed; "Do you seriously believe that of the hundred thousands of patents in our portfolio, you are NOT in violation of ANY?" Needless to say, SUN ink the licensing agreement.

      Considering the amount of pa

      • by Svartalf (2997)

        Unfortunately, it's probably apocryphal. I honestly and SERIOUSLY doubt that IBM, let alone Cravath, would be party to extortion of any kind- and the story describes that very practice in question, which is a felony in most jurisdictions for good reasons.

        You can call it "leverage", but in the end, it's still just extortion.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      I think Atari stayed afloat for years like this, way before SCO, and moderately successful at it too.

    • Did they hire SCO attorneys or laywers?

      No, these lawyers are competent and got money out of their marks.

    • Texas Instruments has made a fortune suing over patents.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @04:27PM (#36665260)

    Only together can MS and Google overthrow Apple and rule the galaxy as father and son.

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      The dickheads who voted this into legislation are evil. Sold out whores will do anything for a dollar.

  • Citation needed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @04:36PM (#36665370)

    Microsoft likely makes more money from Android than its own Windows phone platform,

    This statement just cries out for at least a small amount of supporting evidence. The article doesn't appear to make this claim - so did jbrodkin simply pull this out of his nether regions, as I suspect?

    • Microsoft likely makes more money from Android than its own Windows phone platform,

      This statement just cries out for at least a small amount of supporting evidence. The article doesn't appear to make this claim - so did jbrodkin simply pull this out of his nether regions, as I suspect?

      It's been the subject of recent speculation [osnews.com] given the numbers that HTC pays them $5 for each phone and has sold 30 million sets totaling $150 million. And then compare to what WP7 makes MS:

      Microsoft has admitted selling 2 million WP7 licenses, and assuming a price of $15 per license, that's $30 million in revenue.

      Okay so that could be incorrect but we're just seeing more [slashdot.org] and more Android licenses [slashdot.org] resulting in payment to Microsoft. And I don't think WP7 is keeping up with that.

      Is this conclusive? Not at all. The above numbers could be false. Is it probable? Well, that's for you to decide.

      • by Yvanhoe (564877)
        Free market at its finest !
        • Free market at its finest !

          Except that there is no example of a free market in this story. The whole patent system (government granting exclusive rights to an idea) is yet another governmental mechanism that encourages the development of monopolies and is definitely not a free market principle. Another case where we would be better served by the government just getting out of the way. Software patents are especially ridiculous considering software is just an expression of mathematics.

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          Free market at its finest !

          There's nothing 'free market' about patents.

      • Is this conclusive? Not at all. The above numbers could be false. Is it probable? Well, that's for you to decide.

        This sounds like something Glenn Beck would say and doesn't really help your case all that much.

      • The interesting thing about this is it sets a value on not using Windows. To many, many millions of people, it's worth $5 + markup to not have to use WP7. So the market has determined that WP7's value is -$5.00. I'm sure it's worth more than ten times that negative amount, but MS can't rush the shakedown too much or they'll either kill their hosts or ramp up the immune systems of their hosts (i.e., companies which aren't just parasites, because they actually produce value).
    • by ImaLamer (260199)

      You didn't read the article....

      Microsoft reportedly receives $5 every time HTC sells an Android phone, leading some observers to conclude that Microsoft makes more money from Android than its own Windows Phone 7 platform.

      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by ImaLamer (260199)

        Also, the submitter is the article writer... dipshit.

      • Yes and by "reportedly receives" he means that he's just made up that figure out of whole cloth since he has no actual figures to go by.

  • by billsf (34378) <<billsf> <at> <cuba.calyx.nl>> on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @04:37PM (#36665384) Homepage Journal

    How can any company expect to profit from 'purchased patents'. I don't think it'd fly in the more civilised world. If this is the case: NO Mercy. Even if Google won with pi*10^9 dollars, what good would it really be in the end? Let the innovators and not the trolls make out technology.

    BillSF

  • by xednieht (1117791) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @04:37PM (#36665386) Homepage
    They never really were a tech company, IMO. Their innovations: EULA and software licensing. Most of their products were bought, copied stolen.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by AmberBlackCat (829689)

      They never really were a tech company, IMO. Their innovations: EULA and software licensing. Most of their products were bought, copied stolen.

      Just like Google...

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @04:42PM (#36665476)

    Microsoft has enough money to spend on court battles that many companies would rather pay the protection money than say "f#ck you". Sad, but that's the way it is. This is why monopolies are not such a good thing.

    • by dargaud (518470)
      It's never a good idea to pay the Danelaw...
    • You don't have to be a monopoly to have enough money to have a good legal team. Your statement "This is why monopolies are not such a good thing" is false. It's unrelated.

      Of course if you meant to say, this is why companies who make money are not such a good thing that would be related, but I think most people would agree that companies that make money are generally a good thing.

  • suing htc is one thing, suing google is another thing.
    • We just need a 100% tax on LAWYERS then all the money drained into these cases will pay off the national debt... Between Apple, Gooogle, microsoft... There are $150 BILLION or so the government could use. It's not like those companies are using it in the economy...

  • Looks like that's changing.
    • by kikito (971480)

      Nothing has changed. For the average bear, ideas are still farts in the wind.

      This just demonstrates that justice isn't the same for all of us. If you can afford a bunch of attorneys and a long procedure, you can buy your own rules.

  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @04:53PM (#36665600) Homepage Journal

    Back when Microsoft started making waves about their patents, one of the things often shouted here on /. was "put up or shut up, tell us exactly which patents are being infringed." Nobody ever says what they are (though I think a FAT32 patent on legacy-formatted SD cards might have been mentioned).

    What's funny is that the silence didn't mean Microsoft was doomed to lose. AFAIK all the settlements are under NDAs (is this incorrect?). That means that nobody can even prevent the threats by making sure they don't infringe.

    I think licensing NDAs should be illegal. Not only do they passively encourage other acts of infringement, but they obscure the cost of patents that society is bearing. Of course, to patent trolls, these two reasons against license NDAs, are reasons for them...

    BTW, I don't think making such NDAs illegal would be an infringement of anyone's privacy rights or overreaching government involvement. We're talking about patents, so the premise is that the government is already involved in the transaction, by means of threatening the use of force (courts) against one of the participants. If you want privacy, use a trade secret instead. (It's not that laissez faire is necessarily wrong, but under laissez faire you can't have patents anyway, so the very discussion starts with the idea that laissez faire is off the table.)

    • Interesting. If these companies are licensing patents, isn't it law that those be disclosed on the "credits" screen or something??? I thought if an item sold had a patent on it it legally MUST have the number on it to be valid. As these companies are essentially paying for a license, there should be a page crediting these Microsoft patents.

      • by jdgeorge (18767)

        Interesting. If these companies are licensing patents, isn't it law that those be disclosed on the "credits" screen or something??? I thought if an item sold had a patent on it it legally MUST have the number on it to be valid. As these companies are essentially paying for a license, there should be a page crediting these Microsoft patents.

        Best of my understanding: Nope. It's not like trademarks, where you have to actively defend the mark in order to retain the rights to the mark.

        As the patent holder, you can let everyone in the world use your invention for free with zero acknowledgement of your genius, or you can go around demanding payment with a pinky at the corner of your mouth. Your mileage will vary based on real-world conditions and the geothermal activity of your volcano hideout.

    • by mdmkolbe (944892)

      While I like the idea, I'm not sure how to get the implementation to work. The problem is I don't have to "license" the patent to you, I just have to wave my rights to or contractually promise not to sue you for infringing on my patent. I don't have to put you "under NDA", the contract just has to stipulate that the "license" becomes void if you reveal the contents of the contract.

      Now, if we made void all contracts that contain in NDA on their contents, then I could see it working. But short of that, it

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        Simple solution - just make a change to how contract law works. A contract is legally binding when two parties communicate their agreement to be bound to the terms to a court, which then publishes the contract.

        If you keep the terms of an agreement secret, then a court will not uphold that agreement. That means that if you secretly pay MS a lot of money not to sue you, they can sue you anyway. Hence, nobody will secretly pay a lot of money to MS not to sue them.

        While we're at it, in the special case of tr

  • Aren't some of TomTom's newer GPS units Android powered?

    Microsoft sued TomTom over patents a few years back (I don't think at the time that TomTom was using Android, specifically, but they were using Linux in their devices). TomTom ended up settling with Microsoft, so I would expect that same settlement would cover any use of Android or any other flavor of Linux.

  • here are a few of the patents Microsoft claims against Android:

    People also expect to be able to access command windows without interfering with the application's main window, and to be able to tab through various screens to find the information they need. Microsoft's patents enable the opening of a new, tabbed control window. (U.S. Patent No. 5,889,522)
    Surfing the web quickly is a key device feature. One of the patents in this case enables devices to show the content of a page even while the

    • by echostorm (865318)

      others include:
      5,579,517: Common name space for long and short filenames
      5,758,352: Common name space for long and short filenames
      6,621,746: Monitoring entropic conditions of a flash memory device as an indicator for invoking erasure operations
      6,826,762: Radio interface layer in a cell phone with a set of APIs having a hardware-independent proxy layer and a hardware- specific driver layer

    • by edxwelch (600979)

      but that stuff is in every OS. Why aren't MS sueing Apple, Nokia and Research In Motion too?

  • Why can't we have a website dedicated to invalidating patents?
    Crowdsourcing prior-art info preferably public so, as to invalidate the patent without moving domain over to a new patent.
    It can't be that hard. Ofcource, if the patent is not yet granted it is easier as then you just send the info along to the examiners who in turn can force the filer to prove it isn't prior art. Once it's granted however we need a way to prove it is prior art as the onus is on us. (google the word, I hate it too...)
  • Microsoft likely makes more money from Android than its own Windows phone platform.

    Well hell, that tells us a lot doesn't it. They make more money from furniture repair or BillG pinup posters than from their Windows phone platform.

  • ...sue you way to profit ( and/or get laws passed that guarantee you income ). Sad really that we have come to this point in our society.

  • The cost and list of phones looks very similar to the phone sets that support Microsoft's Exchange Active Sync push technology. Is the lawsuit definitely something to do with Linux or could it just be licensing fees for synchronizing email?

  • by Ostracus (1354233) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @11:36PM (#36668610) Journal

    If in the future the patents are found groundless, will all those who paid get their money back?

The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.

Working...