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Why No War Over MS's Android Patent Shakedown? 174

Posted by Soulskill
from the cry-havoc-and-let-slip-the-patent-attorneys dept.
jfruhlinger writes "When challenged directly by Oracle over Android intellectual property, Google has proven itself a feisty opponent. So why is it sitting back and letting Microsoft shake down OEMs over its claims to own patents that Android infringes? A disheartened Tom Henderson thinks it's because Microsoft has been smart to go after the vendors rather than poke at Google directly. Still, he wonders when Google will get into the fight." Glyn Moody thinks Google should join the fight as well.
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Why No War Over MS's Android Patent Shakedown?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 11, 2011 @03:27PM (#36725170)

    Why is no one mentioning the possibility that M$'s patents might be legit, novel patents that don't cover something frivolous? That would be a damn fine reason to license the patents.

    • by postbigbang (761081) on Monday July 11, 2011 @03:36PM (#36725280)

      Yet no one litigates to find out. Why? Imagine trying to invalidate dozens of patents, one at a time. Find out what they are, then find patches around them. How many patents can there be to be used against the Linux-Android kernel?

      • The big question... When will Apple go after Google?
      • Allegedly 42 for just the kernel just from MS.
        • by jc42 (318812) on Monday July 11, 2011 @04:32PM (#36726132) Homepage Journal

          Allegedly 42 for just the kernel just from MS.

          But the main comment about such numbers has been "[citation needed]". MS's patent-violation claims seems to be trade secrets. We can't recode the purported violations, because we don't know where in the code they are and what specific patent they violate. MS won't tell us.

          This is part of the "patent troll" concept, and it's why people are classifying MS's patent "agreements" as shakedowns and a protection racket.

          Myself, I'd be happy to rewrite any of my code so as to avoid patent and/or copyright violations. As an experienced coder, I can usually come up with several ways to do any particular task. But to do that in a way that violates patents or copyrights, I have to know what they are, and how they violate someone's patent or copyright. This information has become nearly impossible to get from claimants, other than by spending millions of dollars on legal expenses.

          The whole "IP" fuss in the US is essentially due to the change in the laws some time back, so that patents can be written in legalese rather than engineerese, making them incomprehensible to anyone but lawyers. And often not even to lawyers, who often respond to questions with "I don't know what that means; we'll have to ask the courts." Again, millions of dollars and many lost years before we get an answer.

          Copyright is even more bizarre, with corporations even making copyright claims on nothing at all, or blank lines [thedailywtf.com]. Some time back, when SCO claimed a specific number of copyright violations in the linux code, someone did a bit of grepping, and reported that the number agreed almost exactly with the count of "/*" and "*/" lines in the code. But again, SCO never actually told us which lines were in violation of a copyright, making it impossible to rewrite them so they didn't infringe.

          Anyone know a fast, efficient way to find out exactly what lines of code are in violation of some corporation's patents or copyrights? Until we can quickly determine that information, they can continue their protection racket unhindered by legal concerns.

          • It is indeed troubling behavior, and it is straight up extortion. Perhaps one solution is to codify something into law that says NDAs can't prevent disclosure of patent numbers that are part of a settlement. That would make invalidating or working around the patents much easier.

            Legally preventing another SCO might be a bit trickier, though, but I doubt that a similar threat to the FOSS ecosystem could happen, just because the Unix model of proprietary code with source code widely available doesn't seem
          • I would argue that patents are harder than copyrights when it comes to code as the copyrighted must be registered with the Copyright Office. Patents involve parsing whether your idea is implemented as described in the patent application. SCO stands out as an egregious example of a troll. The case never went far enough for IBM to eviscerate SCO's code comparisons but the fact that the judge threw out 2/3s of SCO's claims because they didn't provide specificity even after multiple orders to do so.

            My memory

            • by jc42 (318812)

              I would argue that patents are harder than copyrights when it comes to code as the copyrighted must be registered with the Copyright Office.

              Actually, in the US (and much of the rest of the world) this hasn't been true for several decades. Documents are now "born copyrighted". All you have to do is attach a copyright claim and the owner's name, and the courts will accept it. You probably have to also present some evidence that you've "published" the text, though it seems that all you need to do is show the court that you've provided copies to a small number of people. But you don't have to give a copy to any government body any more; your

          • by salesgeek (263995)

            If they had patents and had a prayer in court, they would disclose the violation. This feels like the SCO case all the way.

          • by protektor (63514) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @12:42AM (#36730026)

            The reason Microsoft doesn't want to release the patent numbers is for the same reason someone mentioned. It is too expensive for a company to research 45+ patents. It is a snap for the Open Source community to research 45+ patents and get prior art for all of them. Microsoft knows that if their patents aren't rock solid and iron clad that the Open Source community will rip them to shreds as they have done before. Microsoft doesn't stand a chance in hell of keeping the patents once they are public and they know it. Microsoft knows they didn't do a deep prior art search because it is expensive, but 100,000+ people searching for prior art and all of a sudden it isn't a needle in a haystack. It's a thin layer of straw with a giant magnet to find the needle. Microsoft knows this and Microsoft's lawyers know this. They have absolutely no intention of allowing the army of the Open Source community anywhere near them to try and attack them. Microsoft isn't stupid and they know they can't take on the army of the Open Source community intent on smashing Microsoft's patents. It would the death of a thousand cuts and Microsoft has no plans to open that nasty can of worms and huge set of problems on themselves. This is exactly why they hide everything but make outrageous claims. It is the same tactics Microsoft has used for years and the tactics that got Microsoft convicted of being an illegal monopoly in the US and the EU.

            Can you imagine what would happen if every time a software patent was filed and before it was granted it was made known to the Open Source community? I would bet money that very very few of the software patents, if any, would survive the assault on them. Corporations know this and they want absolutely no part of seeing thousands of people working to invalid a patent. They will do almost anything to prevent that because they know doing deep prior art research is expensive and no one ever does a serious deep prior art research. Lawyers aren't paid to tell clients, sorry someone else was there before you. They are paid to make sure the patent is granted. This is the exact reason the patent office is so broke.

            There is absolutely nothing you can invent that someone else at the same time isn't working on. If you are trying to solve a problem then you can be guaranteed that someone else out there is trying to solve the exact same problem. You see this over and over and over again in history for radio, tv, electricity to cities, lights and the list goes on and on. Patents in this day and age do absolutely nothing but stifle innovation. No inventor or company ever goes through the patents to try and find a new invention or way to do something. Companies actively tell inventors and programmers not to go looking at patents. So if no one is looking at them and they invent the same exact thing then it definitively isn't novel to someone in the industry because they did the exact same thing all on their own with no idea of what someone else did. Patents have only screwed commerce and society over by putting a serious drag on science and technologies. Don't even think medicine is different either. The exact same thing happens there with drugs. In fact if you look at drug companies SEC filings you will see they spend more on advertising instead of R&D. R&D is one of their lowest costs. So patents don't help the drug industry either. Drug companies are never all alone in inventing drugs. If you think that then you don't know the drug industry at all. They are all competing with each other to be the first to patent some drug to treat something. They all know what the other companies are researching but don't know their progress level. So even in drugs patents are not needed. Drug companies would still fight to be the first to market to make that first to market money and get entrenched before any other drug company.

        • by JAlexoi (1085785)
          MS uses just 9 against Moto.
      • by peragrin (659227)

        They aren't after "android" but one of those patents is VFAT.

        an extended 30 year old file system, that is the only way to connect multiple drives together across all OS's.

        • by Rob Y. (110975) on Monday July 11, 2011 @05:15PM (#36726674)

          Software patents are a different kind of animal than other patents, and Microsoft's been on both ends of the evil spectrum in this regard.

          Software patents are rarely used for simply collecting appropriate royalties on a software 'invention'. More commonly, they're either used to shake down rich companies (like Microsoft, who have been the victims of such trolls) or they're used in an anti-competitive manner (mainly by Microsoft) to punish companies that have the nerve to build successful products without using Microsoft (or Oracle, or...) software.

          The VFAT patent is a case in point. Nobody uses VFAT because they think it's a great filesystem. No modern filesystem uses the patented VFAT 'dual-naming' system, but products have used VFAT because that's the easiest way to make products that need to connect to a computer work with 90+ percent of the computers out there. Royalties on VFAT should be struck down based on the non-innovative technology in question (basically a kludge to fix a broken filesystem). They should also be struck down based on their anti-competitive nature. VFAT royalties are a form of illegal tying to a monopoly product. As are any patents on CIFS, or other communications protocols built in to Windows.

          But how about a so-called 'legitimate' software patent? In the case of a piece of patented hardware, somebody who wants to use that hardware in their invention will buy the hardware, which would come with a license to use the patent. In fact, they might have to buy the hardware from the patent-holder. There would be a cost involved, but it wouldn't be much more than the cost of the part without the patent license. Now look at the Android patents. There's a patent on displaying text in a web page prior to downloading the embeddded graphics. Leaving aside whether Microsoft actually 'invented' that, in less time than it took to type that sentence, I know how to implement it, using no Microsoft code. And yet Microsoft is charging $5 per unit for phones incorporating this (and a few other similarly trivial) patented inventions. And for a few dollars more, they'll sell you WinMo7, a full-blown platform of which the patented ideas are a negligible part. How about I buy the patented stuff for an appropriate fraction of the full $15 WinMo, and you can keep the rest? The purpose of charging these royalties is to make a free OS cost essentially as much as the Microsoft offering. But setting prices this way is anti-competitive. The Windows (and Office) monopolies already give MS several competitive steps up in entering new arenas where interaction with those products is important. But they want more. They always want more.

          • by Rockoon (1252108)

            There's a patent on displaying text in a web page prior to downloading the embeddded graphics.

            No, there is a patent on a METHOD of doing so.

            Do you understand the difference?

            • by protektor (63514)

              If a programmer invented it and another programmer invented the same exact thing and never ever saw the patent filed for it. The the process is trival and obvious to anyone in the field. There is nothing you can program that won't occure to another program as a way to solve a problem. It just isn't possible because of the way that computer languages have been created and taught. Someone will end up making the exact same method and code very close to what the patent claims was innovative. Programmers never l

    • by Insanity Defense (1232008) on Monday July 11, 2011 @03:42PM (#36725374)

      Why is no one mentioning the possibility that M$'s patents might be legit, novel patents that don't cover something frivolous?

      Probably due to the words of a Microsoft executive. When Ballmer first started the whole "Linux violates our patents and some one has to pay" campaign people asked which patents precisely. The executive indicated that he wouldn't say as they might be challenged and invalidated. If Microsft is so sure why not tell so it can be fixed?

      It is like the whole SCO fiasco claiming that Linux violated their Unix copyrights (which they have now been ruled twice in courts not to own) but they would never say what code it was out of fear that the "code would be replaced".

      Both sets lawsuits seem to me to be based on the idea of never letting the alleged infringement be known and fixed so that they can collect eternal tolls based on their unsupported allegations.

      • In the case of SCO though, the claims were obviously absurd.

        In this case, careful review by a number of hardware makers has led them to pay Microsoft to license the patents. We may not know exactly what they are using but you can bet the companies paying Microsoft had to have pretty good proof before they simply handed over per-device fees to another company.

        • Re:Not Sco at all (Score:5, Informative)

          by NullProg (70833) on Monday July 11, 2011 @04:23PM (#36726004) Homepage Journal

          In this case, careful review by a number of hardware makers has led them to pay Microsoft to license the patents. We may not know exactly what they are using but you can bet the companies paying Microsoft had to have pretty good proof before they simply handed over per-device fees to another company.

          I doubt that. All the companies that have licensed the patents for their Android devices also ship Windows devices. More than likely Microsoft threatened them over Windows pricing if they didn't agree to the patents. See the monopoly trial transcripts on Microsoft's use of predatory pricing tactics.

          The one Android using company that didn't license the patents also doesn't ship any Windows versions. According to Barnes and Noble the patents are weak. See

          http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/04/28/039255/BampN-Responds-To-Microsofts-Android-Suit [slashdot.org]

          Food for thought,
          Enjoy.

          • Of course, for many years after the trial, Microsoft was under considerable scrutiny, so I very much doubt they'd be able to pull off such predatory pricing policies with regards to Android without someone at least saying something.
            • MS was under close scrutiny for a few years, but by the time the first Android devices were launched, it didn't seem they were watched as closely.
            • by JAlexoi (1085785)
              Wha...!?!?! Since when was MS outside US under any supervision? MS did and still do predatory pricing.
              • by protektor (63514)

                You mean the EU doesn't count as outside of the US where Microsoft was convicted of being an illegal monopoly as well? I could have sworn that the EU was not part of the US. I could have also sworn I read news articles from the EU about the Microsoft trial and conviction and subsequent oversight and changes that Microsoft had to make. Anyone remember the SAMBA part of the story where Microsoft had to open up all tech details on that as part of the punishment? That's why the SAMBA team was able to make a gia

        • by JAlexoi (1085785)

          In this case, careful review by a number of hardware makers has led them to pay Microsoft to license the patents. We may not know exactly what they are using but you can bet the companies paying Microsoft had to have pretty good proof before they simply handed over per-device fees to another company.

          Do you know what kind of review they did? Either we comply with MS or we loose access to MS Windows and WP7 licenses and face litigation in US.
          And in business terms complying with MS is their best option... Though it would really make me, in place of an executive, doubt how MS can possibly be called a partner.

          • Do you know what kind of review they did? Either we comply with MS or we loose access to MS Windows and WP7 licenses and face litigation in US.

            Remember these are mostly mobile makers we are talking about, who have no need of Windows licenses.

            That leaves only WP7. So what if Microsoft threatens to withhold WP7 from a phone maker? What kind of threat is that? Mobile companies probably have to be given bribes just to MAKE them currently.

        • by protektor (63514)

          I will bet you money that the reason the companies caved is because of the expense of challenging a patent. If the patents became known to the public then they would fall apart and the game would be up for Microsoft, and Microsoft knows this. If they do it under an NDA and sealed agreements then the companies can't get any help to break the patents and can't afford to do an exhaustive prior art search themselves. If they could get a lot of people to help them search for prior art....say like the Open Source

      • Yep, exactly like the scox-scam that Microsoft financed. Just another case of Microsoft using the legal system to beat up MS competitors with nebulous claims of infringing IP. Like the scox-scam, Microsoft refuses to be specific about exactly what is being infringed.

        In the case of SCO though, the claims were obviously absurd.

        So how come the case went on for eight years, if the claims were "obviously absurd?" The reason is: the US legal system is borked. MS has learned how to exploit our broken legal system to harass MS competitors.

      • by v1 (525388)

        Isn't there a sort of legal suit you can file to have something confirmed to be legal, to settle the question of whether an action is legal or not, proactively? I forget the name of it, but it seems to be well-suited to depth charging the submarine patents?

    • Ha, ha...
      The most common one they sue over is FAT32 on removable media. I'd venture the real reason we're not seeing more pushback is that these OEMS ALSO make Windows phones and other Windows devices. I'd venture MS shows up ready to revoke their license to sell windows (along with the discounts retroactively) which becomes something nasty... Who's willing to be BANNED from selling windows (other than Apple which already has a wide cross license in their pocket) ?

      Frankly Google needs to step up and hit Mic

      • by JAlexoi (1085785)
        First they need to put Oracle back in place. Then push though easier patent invalidation, where Microsoft is one of their allies. And then they can use the ease of patent invalidation, to invalidate patents.
      • Who's willing to be BANNED from selling windows

        If I was in the Mobile market and they threatened me with that, I'd tell them, "Fine, pound sand, I'm not paying."

        In fact, I'd announce tomorrow that due to low sales of Windows Mobile devices, we're suspending manufacturing of Windows Mobile devices effective immediately and all production facilities will be converted to Android, and we're investigating new devices running HP WebOS"

        The idea that MS can hold an industry hostage with bully tactics is long since

        • I think most of the companies MS has attacked also had desktop markets, where abandoning Windows isn't that viable. HTC didn't, but WinMo was a huge chunk of their business for a while.
        • by protektor (63514)

          Yanking Windows licenses is not the only tactic Microsoft can and does use. They threaten companies all the time, especially small ones and startups, that if they continue to try and bring a new product to market that may unseat Microsoft, or won't sell the technology and/or company to them, then Microsoft will bury them in lawsuits and make it last forever until they run out of money. I have had people in startups I know get this talk from Microsoft, and I have had the exact same threat used against me by

    • Judging from the TomTom case, and the B&N case, I doubt it.

      Ballmer has made it very clear that he plans to ruin Linux though patent suits.

      This is just business as usual in Redmond.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      The only person who says this is people who support MS, 100% evidenced by an anonymous comment to boot.

      Since when was a software patent legitimate, novel and non-frivolous?

      I'd love to see proof of that from any company that exists. Show me a software patent that will last through prior art, because it doesn't exist.

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      And google may not care about the covered technology. The tech in question covers connecting the phone to Windows desktops basically. From googles perspective Android works by itself, if you want to, as a feature to differentiate from competitors, connect to something else, that's your problem.

      Not getting involved may keep the price down for everyone too. If MS settles for say 4 or 5 dollars a phone with several different makers that becomes the going rate. If they make a fight out of it MS may demand

      • by JAlexoi (1085785)
        I'm pretty sure that winning a case against MS, when you are making Windows PCs will put your PC business out of business.
    • Nobody is mentioning either that Microsoft will never sue Google and risk losing a billion in revenue from shaking down makers. The fact is that makers love this. They pay a fee and get protection. This is what they'd have to do anyways if they didn't use Android. Android is the only really free option, and this fee is certainly better than paying for Windows 7 Mobile and not selling millions of units to boot.

      Microsoft is happy, handset makers are happy enough to only pay $15 per phone. And Google doesn

    • Why is no one mentioning the possibility that M$'s patents might be legit, novel patents that don't cover something frivolous? That would be a damn fine reason to license the patents.

      Because that's absurd.

      First, they're software patents. I'm sure lots of folks will be willing to trot out the arguments against those if you actually haven't heard them before, but it should suffice to say that such things should not be granted.

      Second, because Microsoft does not have much of a history of innovation. I can break

    • by MrDoh! (71235)

      Current stuff /might/ be legit, so Google tells them to sit tight, works around the patent, next release of android doesn't invalidate those patents, htc/samsung/whoever tells MS 'thanks, but we don't need to license your patents now, so sorry, bye bye"

    • How can we know? The patents are only disclosed under NDA. In order for Google to officially know about those patents, it would need to throw one of its OEMs under the bus (since Google wouldn't be fined for violating an NDA it's not a party to, an NDA is only a civil procedure, but the OEM itself would be heavily fined for having broken the NDA it signed with Microsoft).

    • I have yet to hear of a non-frivolous software patent.  Have you?

    • all stolen from others.

      its utter hypocrisy. the entire PC industry was founded on what would today be considered egregious IP theft.

  • by sessamoid (165542) on Monday July 11, 2011 @03:34PM (#36725256)
    be standing up and crying foul? MSFT is suing largely over patents that have nothing to do with the Linux kernel, but rather the software on top of it, much of which is closed and/or licensed by Google. It's not as if these OEMs are FOSS contributors who do valuable work then contribute it back to the open source community.
    • by Jartan (219704)

      I must admit we don't seem to be getting what we want out of Android. If Google isn't going to use their market share to force a better phone market then it's pointless to care about them losing to MSFT.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      The whole point of patents is to encourage people to share their "secret formula" rather than keep a trade secret that dies with the company/inventor. There is no need for software patents, as anyone with a debugger can see what your "secret formula" is. All you are doing at that point is protecting the interests of the patent holder, which does not exactly benefit society.

      • I think encouraging the development of said formulas is a bigger concern than disclosure. That said, it doesn't appear that patents have worked well for either or those goals.
      • by alen (225700)

        the benefit is that it creates an incentive to invent or code something that does a better job than the current patent. if someone patents an algorithm then it creates an incentive for someone else to code a better one.

        unless of course you work for an asian company that does nothing but sell cheap commodity products with other's IP

        • by protektor (63514)

          Wrong and thank you for playing. There is absolutely nothing you can come up with that another programmer who is in the same area of business won't come up with. Algorithms are not patentable for most of the world because they are simply math statements and thus eventually many people will discover the exact same math formula. The exact same thing is true of programming. Programmers are taught and trained a specific way or style due to the idiosyncrasies of a language so everyone in programming ends up very

      • The whole point of patents is to encourage people to share their "secret formula" rather than keep a trade secret that dies with the company/inventor. There is no need for software patents, as anyone with a debugger can see what your "secret formula" is. All you are doing at that point is protecting the interests of the patent holder, which does not exactly benefit society.

        If I can't figure it out without debugging someone's code then it probably deserves the patent. In software patents, that would be exceedingly rare.

        • by protektor (63514)

          Not rare but impossible. Programmers are taught almost exactly the same way how to program in a language so programmers are going to make similar programs. If a programmer never looks at a patent filing, and they never do, then it is obvious and trivial. There is nothing in programming where this hasn't happened. Every single software patent some programmer will violate because it is obvious and they are trying to solve the same problem as the guy who got the patent. I did tons of work during the dot com er

  • Android is a loss leader, and not worth a lot to Google. Google's patents are probably in their core business, search and advertising. Since a lawsuit would result in settlement and cross licensing, Google's patents are worth a lot more for keeping Microsoft out of that core business than saving HTC $5-15 per handset.

    • by zill (1690130)
      Bingo. You hit the nail on the head. If Google attacks Microsoft's patent pool, they should expect counter-attacks from Microsoft. Why take the risk if there's no benefits? Google profits exactly $0 from each handset sold.
      • by tepples (727027)

        Google profits exactly $0 from each handset sold.

        Then why do some handsets have Android Market and others lack it?

        • by zill (1690130)
          Because some devices are certified by Google and some are not. The certification process costs exactly $0. [android.com]
          • by tepples (727027)
            From the same page: "Android Market is only licensed to handset manufacturers shipping devices. [...] The Google apps for Android, such as YouTube, Google Maps and Navigation, Gmail, and so on are Google properties that are not part of Android, and are licensed separately. Contact android-partnerships@google.com for inquiries related to those apps." This page doesn't appear to imply that manufacturers of certified devices have access to the Market for $0 per device.
  • by gcnaddict (841664) on Monday July 11, 2011 @03:46PM (#36725414)
    I'm going to leave two points for consideration:

    1) as the first AC mentioned, the patents may be legitimate. In discussions about MS patent litigation, I've noted that Microsoft actually does a good job of leveraging patents over which it has ownership rather than simply letting them sit in a bank, so there's a good chance they're leveraging their options because Microsoft may actually be using these patents in Windows Phone 7.

    2) Google needs a foothold in the mobile market. Even if this means OEMs have to pay Microsoft for patents Microsoft owns, I figure Google won't care simply because this means Google still has a foothold as both an advertisement platform and an application platform, which is something Google would be hard-pressed to challenge just for the sake of challenging royalties which manufacturers are willingly paying. After all, these OEMs have their own teams of lawyers, and these lawyers likely see something we don't, suggesting to us on the outside that Microsoft may actually have a valid claim to the patents in question.
    • by BobPaul (710574) *

      After all, these OEMs have their own teams of lawyers, and these lawyers likely see something we don't, suggesting to us on the outside that Microsoft may actually have a valid claim to the patents in question.

      OEMs look at more than "can we win this case" when they decide whether to move forward or not. SCO convinced plenty of companies to pay its licensing fee before they ultimately lost in court and went out of business. If MS makes the cost of licensing cheaper than the cost of going to court, a company will pay the fee even if they think they can win. Seriously, while they're fighting in court their competitors will be using android free of charge and once that company wins, all it means is they spent a lot o

    • by protektor (63514)

      Wrong on all counts. Clearly you have never been involved in lawsuits with large corporations and nuance lawsuits. I have been involved in both. When a company is being sued there are two things they look at. The first what is the expense to prove in court that they are correct and how does that cost relate to the product they are selling. The second is how much is the cost to settle the case and make it go away so they can get back to their core business. A large majority of the time it is simpler to say h

  • by OverlordQ (264228) on Monday July 11, 2011 @03:47PM (#36725420) Journal

    So why is it sitting back and letting Microsoft shake down OEMs over its claims to own patents that Android infringes?

    Because Google is a Business. Litigation costs money. Business don't like spending money until they have to.

    • by idontgno (624372)

      More to the point, given a choice between spending money, or letting someone else spend money, business will choose the latter. So Google has no immediate incentive to jump in when Microsoft shaking down Android OEMs is covering the need.

      The indirect effect, OEMs backing away from Android because Google isn't indemnifying them or rescuing them in their hour of need, is (A) not as economically sensible if the OEM has already settled with MS and now has a license to the patents in play, and (B) not the kind o

      • by bberens (965711)
        MSFT will be in a position of wanting Android to be successful in the market, since their license fee for Android is exactly the same as the fee they charge for a license of Windows Mobile.. more revenue with no labor (aside from a couple lawyers). MSFT will be the most profitable person in the mobile phone operating business.
        • by Locutus (9039)
          are you kidding me, do you really think that it is the money from phones that Microsoft cares about? You are VERY wrong. Microsoft has lost over $10 billion on their embedded/phone OS since Windows CE hit the market. they have lost many times that on the XBox and the same for MSN/Live Search/BING. All these 'expenses' are efforts to keep their main profit stream, Windows, streaming truckloads of cash into their pockets day in and day out. It's about controlling their destiny and accepting a few hundred mil
      • More to the point, given a choice between spending money, or letting someone else spend money, business will choose the latter. So Google has no immediate incentive to jump in when Microsoft shaking down Android OEMs is covering the need.

        It's not as if companies, like Samsung, are too poor to fight their own legal battles. Why does Google need to step in and help a multi-billion dollar, international, mega-corp?

    • Yes, but that's a bit too simplistic.

      If Microsoft's moves were harming Android adoption, the time to act would be now. If Google/Android loses handset manufacturer allegiance then it might be hard/impossible to regain it later.

      Of course the reverse is true too - if Microsoft's shakedown of the handset manufacturers doesn't appear to be having much affect on Android usage, then why should Google care?

      Another consideration is that Android truly might be infringing on Microsoft's patents, in which case there's

      • by protektor (63514)

        Clearly Microsoft doesn't believe that the patents will stand up to scrutiny otherwise they would publicly announce the patents and then go after each company violating them. That Microsoft keeps everything a secret says tons about what Microsoft thinks of their patents being able to hold up to extremely close scrutiny by 100,000+ people. If you only have to convince 10-20 people that is far easier to do than try and convince 100,000+ people that you have great patents and there is no way to invalidate them

  • This is a sign of how out of touch Microsoft is. Outside of their lucrative enterprise market, it seems their best solution for making money is to simply troll with their patent portfolio. The numbers I can find seem to show that the moneys they're collecting from these 'that's a nice android you got there, I'd hate to see something happen to it' payments outnumbers their revenues from Windows phones. That's just sad. Microsoft needs to be careful. There's a time bomb hidden in their business strategy,
  • It's not Google's problem. Getting themselves involved has the potential of making matters worse for not only themselves but the OEM's as well.

    Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.
    Proverbs 26:17

  • For the sake arguement lets suppose, Microsoft who has been making phones a lot longer than Google, actually has legit patents. The first Windows phone came out in 2003, and pocket pc goes back to 2000. Perhaps Google has completely disregarded said patents and Microsoft has them by the balls.
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Monday July 11, 2011 @04:09PM (#36725790)

    If Google were to ever fight back, the Microsoft friendly pop-media would have a field day.

    The Microsoft friendly pop-media would scream, and cry, and carry-on, non-stop about how Google is abusing the legal system to preserve google's monopoly.

    This sort of thing happens all the time.

    Remember the big fuss that made when legal action was taken against Cisco for GPL violations? "The foss folks are a bunch of hypocrites! They complain when scox tries to protect it's IP rights, but they're the first to file a lawsuit against anybody else!"

    How about Microsoft accusing Google of being a patent troll when Google tried to buy Nortel?

    How about all the privacy accusations against Google, backed by Fackbook's biggest investor?

    Of course Microsoft has a huge problem with any sort of monopoly. Not just the Google monopoly, remember Microsoft's recent attacks against IBM's monopoly - the TurboHercules scandal?

    My all-time favorite was the massive fear campaign about the horrors of having one company (Netscape) controlling the critical browser market! Rags like "Infoworld" carried on about that for months. At the time, Netscape had a monopolistic 70% of the browser market - oh the horror! After Microsoft defeated Netscape, and MSIE went on to control about 90% of the browser market (at one time); the same ms-friendly rags saw no problem with that.

    Microsoft loves to scream, and cry, about Microsoft competitors, who do the same sorts of things that msft does; even though msft is about 100X worse.

  • I think they'll let the hardware companies take the initial charge, and jump in only if it looks like it's hurting overall adoption. The phone & tablet makers are just adding the MS danegeld to the bottom line, and Android takeup doesn't seem to be hurting much for it.

    Barnes & Noble, seeing the Nook as their enabler to sell you e-books ("Gillette strategy"), and so wanting to hold down their unit cost, refused to sign Microsoft's NDA, called out the patents in their suit as obvious, and explicitly

    • by jonwil (467024)

      Motorola are also fighting Microsoft rather than bending over.
      But Motorola have been in the cellphone game from day one (the Motorola DynaTAC was the first true mobile phone, previous phones usually needed to be installed in automobiles or carried in heavy cases) and they have a massive patent portfolio to back up their years of innovation and invention so unlike HTC, they probably DO have a nice fat portfolio of patents they can use against Windows Phone and Microsoft.

      Note that Motorola is one of the few p

  • Just off the top of my head:

    - They don't want the OEMS to run to google every time someone threatens them with patent lawsuits.
    - Why stop Microsoft from pissing all over the OEMs? Does Google need OEM goodwill more than they would like Microsoft to have OEM ill-will?
    - Maybe they want something from the OEMs to help them out that the OEMs aren't willing to agree to.
    - Perhaps they don't want to escalate a patent war with Microsoft.

  • by drolli (522659) on Monday July 11, 2011 @05:09PM (#36726618) Journal

    Why does oracle not go after the manufacturing companies? I think they would all settle immediately. They would even plainly buy J2ME to put it on the device.

    • i'm still hopeful Larry and Google can reach a peaceful agreement.

      1. Google dumps the Apache Harmony libraries and licenses 'Java' under the terms of OpenJDK.
      2. Oracle modularises the class libraries so that unused portions get loaded on demand. Never use AWT or jdbc on a phone? Great, they're loaded only if a 'legacy' app needs 'em. Oracle already has a 'kernel' JRE for win32 right now. However, beefy enough tablets can run that critical intranet jnlp Swing application.
      3. Oracle's javafx runs on dalvik.

      Con

  • Google removes any Imaginary Property from the Android released to the manufacturers and then makes it available in the Marketplace..

    I wouldn't advise anyone to bet any money on them doing this though...

  • Selling patents is inherently wrong, because it gives one company a monopoly over the IP that is being sold, while from the perspective of society, nothing is gained by the transaction.

    In fact, it can be said that IP law and competition law are inherently in conflict in this sense.

    I am just wondering why nobody seems to notice or acknowledge this conflict.

  • Does anyone here still think patents for anything other than physical apparatus are a good idea?

    If so, shame on you.

"A mind is a terrible thing to have leaking out your ears." -- The League of Sadistic Telepaths

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