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Microsoft Patents Your Rights Online

B&N Sought DoJ Inquiry Over Microsoft Patents 162

Posted by Soulskill
from the sanity-check-in-aisle-four dept.
Meshach writes "There's an interesting story at the WSJ about how Barnes & Noble lobbied the Justice Department to open a new antitrust probe against Microsoft regarding their abuse of the patent system. B&N saw Microsoft filing a slew of frivolous patents in order to stop the development of handheld devices, potentially affecting their Nook reader. The article mentions how Microsoft has a similar racket going with various Android device manufacturers, but B&N does not have the cash reserves to support similar licensing, and is fighting back." Reader qantr points out related news: Chinese telecoms firm Huawei has confirmed that Microsoft is demanding royalty payments over products running Android.
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B&N Sought DoJ Inquiry Over Microsoft Patents

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  • Time to buy a Nook (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <[aussie_bob] [at] [hotmail.com]> on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @06:18AM (#37997144) Journal
    Microsoft are nothing but vile patent trolls, screwing everybody, including their customers.

    Support B&N with your wallets. Most of all, don't buy Microsoft products.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by erroneus (253617)

      Say what you want about Microsoft (or Apple for that matter) but trolls they are not... at least not in the patent abuse sense of the word. They have been on the giving and receiving end of the game and while they "net benefit" from the system as it is, they have certainly been harmed in some measurable ways.

      What they are doing, however, is using the patent system to supplement and maintain their income. I think proper references need to be cited on this, but I seem to recall something about how Microsoft

      • Trolls (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @06:47AM (#37997252)

        What they're doing is avoiding a lawsuit against Google, and instead going after licensees of Android. If they went after Google, Google would fight it and thus reveal the origin of the inventions they are claiming.

        They come to some arrangement, which looks like it's really a fake agreement (e.g. you pay us $45 million, and we pay you $45 million back in marketing and discounts - which is what the Samsung deal is rumoured to be). They they present the payment to them as a license fee for Android to create a false cost associated with Android.

        All done under NDA so the details of the fraud are not revealed and investors are kept in the dark.

        • Re:Trolls (Score:5, Informative)

          by Locutus (9039) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @07:42AM (#37997530)
          if you read up on the B&N complaints about Microsoft it was indeed about how they insisted and even tried various tricks to get B&N to sign an NDA or act as if they were still under one. The B&N lawyers kept saying we don't need any NDA to read public patents so just give a list.

          What you stated sounds just like the Microsoft I've known for 20+ years and would not surprise me.

          Too bad so many think Microsoft is doing this to make money from the licensing.

          LoB
          • by peragrin (659227)

            Right now Microsoft is making more money on andriod from secert NDA patent deals with HTC, Samsung, etc than all of windiws mobile.

            That is a fact. Why dont you learn some more on just what those secert patents are? Oh wait they are secret patents you cant now what it is your paying for ever.

            • by Locutus (9039)
              I already knew that about Microsoft making more from these patent licenses than they make from WinCE but for the longest time, years, they paid vendors to use WinCE and lost over $15 billion on it as of a few years ago. So it's no surprise they make more from these licenses and now their WinCE business is drying up big time.

              Also, this income is a drop in the bucket to what they make off Windows and Windows based software. Since there's over 20 years of history of Microsoft spending billions to block competi
          • by jc42 (318812)

            Too bad so many think Microsoft is doing this to make money from the licensing.

            I get the impression that most people wouldn't call this "licensing". The usual term is "protection racket". Microsoft basically says "We won't tell you anything about our patent claims; we're just saying that if you pay us what we're asking, we won't sue you." This is not in any sense a licensing deal. It's classical protection money against an unspecified attack.

            • by Rob Y. (110975)

              They're not doing this to make money from the licensing. They're doing it to make sure that Microsoft alternatives always cost at least as much as 'genuine Microsoft' software. They are doing this so they don't have to compete on cost - it is anticompetitive to the core. The money they make from the licenses is a mostly irrelevant side-benefit.

        • by blarkon (1712194)
          Google can jump in anytime. MSFT has said to the orgs licensing Windows Phone that if someone tries to take them to court over patent infringement, MSFT will come to court with them and will fight the suit. Why GOOG didn't offer something similar to its licensees is beyond me.
          • by chrb (1083577)
            Possibly because Google didn't actually create most of Android, or even own it eg. the Linux kernel, they just bundle together source code and release that. Also android licensers often want to modify the user interface and add their own base GUI apps. Google can not offer patent protection for a user interface that it has no control over. On the other hand they could offer patent protection for an unmodified android install, it would even be a good way to encourage the manufacturers not to divert from the
        • They come to some arrangement, which looks like it's really a fake agreement (e.g. you pay us $45 million, and we pay you $45 million back in marketing and discounts - which is what the Samsung deal is rumoured to be)

          That's not a fake agreement. Sounds like they are using their patents to increase those companies dependance on Microsoft by making sure they buy Microsoft products with their "discount." From Microsofts standpoint that's a bigger win than collecting a cheque because they sure don't need the money.

      • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@@@slashdot...firenzee...com> on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @07:23AM (#37997426) Homepage

        For MS it's not about making money from Android, thats a side benefit... Their actual goal is to drive up the cost of Android and to dissuade companies from using it at all. Their end game is to get users locked into their platform instead.

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          it's only driving the cost up if you're not at the same time selling ms phones.

          sad, isn't it? the mobile business is still held by the same few big manufacturers, by means of ip-racketeering.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Oh please, Microsoft is every bit a patent troll as Apple is.
        What the hell do you think this attack on Android is ? Party time ?
        No one wants WP, no one cares a fuck about WP. So what does Microsoft do, instead of competing by improving WP they extort the competition in such a way as to make that shit of WP less costly than Android.
        Microsoft is a criminal enterprise. They have been convicted in the past and it seems time has not changed their modus operandi. They need to be striked down and if the US won't d

      • by md65536 (670240) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @07:34AM (#37997484)

        I seem to recall something about how Microsoft is making more money from Android devices than they are from their own mobile hand-held devices.

        I'm making more money selling lemonade on the street than ms is making from their phones. But then, I've sold a few glasses of lemonade.

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          ...and you didn't have many R&D expenses.

        • do those glasses have rounded edges on them?

          don't worry, your apple police squad is on their way there. yes, we used the gps you have to aid us in finding you.

          I wonder when the first terrorism-related thing happens due to some vp or ceo or some whackjob losing it over being patent-troll sued.

          people in this society are on edge, in many ways. the more you push people, the more we can expect problems to happen.

          either we de-escalate things so that we don't have everyone on a hair trigger, or we pay the piper

      • by peppepz (1311345) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @08:30AM (#37997776)
        Abusing a ridiculous patent about "long file names" to extort money from people who are using that technique only to provide interoperability with their monopolist OS looks much like patent trolling to me - the difference is that they do have a product, which the market rejected, implementing that feature, unlike typical patent trolls. But the intentions and the result are the same.

        Google, for example, are playing in the same game and by the same rules: they buy patents and pay licenses, but I haven't seen them using their patent portfolio for offensive purposes yet.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        "Say what you want about Microsoft" is a scripted response provided to all of Microsoft's reputation management partners.

        Whenever you see that phrase, you know it'll be one of the standard, carefully slanted apologist screeds. Very clever stuff.

        https://www.google.com/search?q=Say+what+you+want+about+Microsoft&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&lr=lang_en#pq=say+what+you+want+about+microsoft&hl=en&sugexp=ppwl&cp=1&gs_id=45&xhr=t&q=%22Say+what+you+want+about+Microsoft%22&tok=Rc2-00 [google.com]

    • by MrDoh! (71235)

      I'm curious what the actual patents are, if it's just using FAT on SDCards, can't these devices format to ext(something) to work around that?

      I also feel a bit sorry for Microsoft in regards to tablets, BillG was pushing for all this YEARS ago, WinCE, whilst not good, was quick to... hmm.. rip off? the layout of other stuff whenever possible, When WinCE was codenamed... Pegasus? Showed they were really trying to get into the PalmPilot Factor, when before they were aiming for the mini-netbook layouts. If th

      • For a phone's internal storage, no problem - they aren't even FAT, no problem there. But SD cards aren't internal storage. They are used to transfer files too. A means of putting data on and off a phone. Let's just say that Android did as you propose and put the card as ext3. All works very well, until you plug the phone into a PC with a USB cable and select storage device mode. At which point... nothing happens, if you're running a Windows desktop, as the vast majority do. Because Windows only supports but
        • by MrDoh! (71235)

          Plug in the device, first thing it does is download the drivers to translate the files as needed, whilst still keeping them on ext3? (though probably a patent for that too).
          Bah, when does FAT patent run out?

          • Download... how? The only way you are getting files from USB device to Windows host is via FAT (or NTFS, or ExFAT - same problem). Besides which, adding filesystem support couldn't be done by just any user - only by a local administrator account. Fine for those on their home PCs, not so fine for those who want to quickly plug their phone in at a friend's or at work.

            That said, it might be a good idea for Google to design and endorse an open patent-free FAT-replacement - as they are the only company who has
            • by MrDoh! (71235)

              For windows machines, the device would ID itself, download the drivers, then be seen in whatever format it needed to be.
              For macos/linux, ext partitions would be read natively?
              Don't know, just throwing it out there, that it might not be needed to be in FAT format, if the device you plug into can easily (operative word!) download the required drivers to get access.

              That'd cover most people perhaps, then a market download to cover FAT access if you really need it (and for camera access?)

              • Great idea now you just have to get Microsoft certify this driver and to incorporate into Windows update ...

              • by godefroi (52421)

                You're confused. You might be able to get Windows to download the USB device driver (assuming it wasn't USB Mass Storage, which it is), but it wouldn't download a filesystem driver. Filesystems aren't devices.

          • by Pembers (250842)

            Until a few years ago, you could've (ab)used the autorun feature to make that work, but since malware writers finally got around to exploiting the gaping security hole that autorun represents, Microsoft now disable it by default. So you're back where you started.

            Support for long filenames in FAT appeared in Windows 95, so any patents on it ought to expire in the next few years. FAT32 came in with Windows 95 OSR 2 - I'm too lazy to look up when that was released, but patents on it probably haven't got much l

            • by gl4ss (559668)

              how do you autorun if you don't have fat?

              well, you could use iso format, for read only drivers partition I suppose.

              • by Pembers (250842)

                A small partition at the start of the drive formatted as FAT16 or FAT32 that contains the drivers. The rest of the space is a big partition formatted as ext-whatever. I have a 256-meg USB drive with a floppy-sized partition that contains some sort of driver for Windows 95 or 98, presumably so that you can format the big partition without making the drive useless with any computer where you didn't install the driver.

                • by SiChemist (575005)

                  The problem with that is windows only recognizes the first partition on (small) removable media (it pretends that USB thumb drives are CDROMs). I have a USB thumb drive that has 2 partitions, but windows only sees the first one. So far as I know, this is with all versions of windows.

                  This problem does not exist with USB hard drives which windows correctly detects as an external hard drive.

                  • by WorBlux (1751716)
                    Which is quite crazy, however I've seen a driver hacks where it is treated like a compact flash hard drive.
                  • by Pembers (250842)

                    Hmm. I have to say it wouldn't surprise me, this being Windows and all, but my drive worked in Windows 7 and XP SP 3. The manual says it doesn't work in Windows 2000 - you can only have one partition per USB socket there.

        • and in a world where almost everyone runs Windows and most of the rest run OSX (Which also supports only those three plus the apple-patented HPFS varients), that simply isn't an option.

          As a side note, without plug-ins OS X also supports UDF and UFS for external storage. Both are workable solutions if you only use non-windows platforms.

        • by xaxa (988988)

          Because Windows only supports but three filesystems on non-optical media: FAT(12/16/32), NTFS and ExFAT.

          I've just read elsewhere in the thread that Windows supports UDF (the open-standards unpatented alternative), in which case the problem is not with Windows, but with other devices that don't support UDF (i.e. I can have a UDF support in my hypothetical new Android phone, and my laptop and desktop, but I can't use that UDF-formatted SD card in my digital camera or the photo-gallery thing on the TV).

  • Geeks don't have $$ (Score:5, Informative)

    by Compaqt (1758360) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @06:20AM (#37997154) Homepage

    So the next best thing we can hope for is that the interests of various corporations align with the general geek consensus for an open Internet and the right to develop software:

    For an open Internet: Google
    For the right to copy (not infringing copies): the Consumer Electronics Association.
    Against patents: B&N, Google/Motorola, various Linux foundations.

    • by dimeglio (456244) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @07:49AM (#37997562)

      I believe Canada, UK and Europe don't recognize software patents. Does this mean some software will not be legal in the US?

      From Wikipedia:
      United Kingdom patent law is interpreted to have the same effect as the European Patent Convention such that "programs for computers" are excluded from patentability to the extent that a patent application relates to a computer program "as such". Current case law in the UK states that an (alleged) invention will only be actually regarded as an invention if it provides a contribution that is not excluded and which is also technical. A computer program implementing a business process is therefore not an invention, but a computer program implementing an industrial process may well be.

      From another source:
      In June 1993, the Canadian Patent Office replaced its August 1, 1978 guidelines and published them for the "information and guidance" of practitioners. They were:
          "1. Computer programs per se are not patentable.
              2. Processes which are unapplied mathematical calculations, even if expressed in words rather than in mathematical symbols, are not patentable.
              3. A process and/or computer program which merely produces information for mental interpretation by a human being is not patentable, nor does the process or program confer novelty upon the apparatus which uses it.
              4. Claims drawn up in terms of means plus function which merely produces intellectual data are not patentable.
              5. New and useful processes incorporating a programmed computer, are directed to patentable subject matter if the computer related matter has been integrated with another practical system that falls within an area which is traditionally patentable.
              6. The presence of a programmed general purpose computer or a program for such computer does not lend patentability to, nor subtract patentability from, an apparatus or process."

      • Yes, this means some perfectly legal software is illegal (or needs additional patent licences) in the USA

        The problem for a company like Google is that they are US based and so will be hounded in the US courts, and for other companies it means they will have difficulty selling into the US, or having to produce two versions of a product on for the US market and one for non-US

        Do you remember the two versions of browsers, one with strong encryption one without ... due to US export laws ....

  • I'm Glad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sunr2007 (2309530) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @06:34AM (#37997214)
    that B &N is showing MS that they have balls which other big companies like Samsung , HTC din't. It doesnt matter whether B & N succeed or not atleast they have shown the intent to fight Troll called MS. This could be the next David Vs Goliath fight.
    • Re:I'm Glad (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xest (935314) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @08:34AM (#37997782)

      The problem for companies like Samsung and HTC is that because they are American companies they suffer greatly in US courts as frankly American courts are extremely biased towards American companies, presumably stemming from it's national disease of over the top patriotism and general high levels of xenophobia. That's not to say this is always the case, but if you're a foreign company going up against a US firm in US courts, then the odds are stacked far more greatly against you than say a foreign company fighting a native firm in Canadian, or European courts which is again not to say it doesn't happen there too - just not so frequently.

      It's no coincidence really that the firms that have folded against Microsoft are the foreign ones, and the ones fighting it are the American ones - Google, Motorola, B&N. If you want a slice of America's consumer pie, you have to accept that you'll play second place to American companies.

      Other industries have been used to this for decades- you only have to ask companies like Airbus and BP about that, or any of the companies that led to complaints against the US via the WTO which have resulted in rulings against the US but which the US has chosen to completely ignore be it lumber from Canada or cotton from Brazil, but with the patent war hotting up it's becoming a painful reality for the mobile industry now too.

      • BP is not a good example .... they were formed by a merger of several companies, the largest was Amoco (A merger of large parts of Standard Oil), along with several other American Oil Companies, are currently run by an American, and the investors are 40% American, (and only 30% UK)

        They are about as British as New England ....

        • by Xest (935314)

          It doesn't really matter though, if a company doesn't have pure American roots, isn't "made in America" or at least not seen that way by the xenophobes then for all intents and purposes it may as well have originated purely in Iran.

          The problem isn't the real, actual grounding of a company, it's the perceived patriotic merit the company has, and BP historically always being known as British Petroleum there just isn't much patriotic merit in that. You only have to look at how many commentators and even Obama

          • While your theory is interesting, it would help if you had better evidence to back it up. The BP example doesn't hold much water and Airbus is more of a military-industrial complex issue than evidence of a xenophobic bias on the part of the American judiciary.

      • american this and american that.

        you have fallen for the rhetoric, full on, haven't you?

        those in power laugh at you (and me) while we play these futile us-vs-them games.

        just like R and D in the US political system. either way, you are owned. almost does not matter anymore who you 'vote' for; you will get the same treatment from 'the 1%' no matter what.

        stop thinking this is a country border issue. you sound like a chump when you fall for the propaganda machine's bleatings.

      • by SiChemist (575005)

        Or, it could be that HTC and Samsung make Windows phones and would like to continue to do so.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @06:44AM (#37997248)

    See my submission for Bloomberg's non-paywall version: http://slashdot.org/submission/1842986/barnes-noble-urges-us-to-probe-microsoft-o [slashdot.org]

  • Article is paywalled. Base price (for 1 year) is E94.38. Although they do have a entry in their form for "Delivery instructions". Can I please have the weekly digital digest delivered on a 3TB harddisk?
  • Because it looks like B&N is essentially arguing that it's fine to have a huge pile of software patents, but it's foul play if you actually use them.

    The government (in its various guises) can't reasonably award software patents and then punish the owners for using them for exactly the purpose that they are intended, right?

    • by MrHanky (141717) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @07:05AM (#37997344) Homepage Journal

      Depends. Microsoft is a convicted monopolist, and if the patents in this case are needed to stay interoperable with the Windows environment, and the fees demanded border to extortion (i.e. the product is no longer competitive with Microsoft's product), then I suspect the DOJ might find that interesting.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SuricouRaven (1897204)
        And in ten years, once Microsoft has destroyed Android and taken over it's place in the market for billions in revenue, the case might finally finish winding through the courts. We've been here with Netscape. Legal action runs at a snail's pace compared to most industries - but in the fast-moving world of technology, it's glacial.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Locutus (9039)
      bull shit, B&N is mainly complaining that the licensing fees are excessive. Microsoft wants something like $15 per device and that is as much or more than they charge for licensing their complete Windows Mobile OS. vFAT or what ever Microsoft is claiming is such a small part of the whole system the fees are excessive in any patent system.

      These excessive fees and how Microsoft is forcing vendors to sign an NDA just to see the patents are outside of the patent system. To top it off, it appears at least th
  • From another article (Score:4, Interesting)

    by flimflammer (956759) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @07:00AM (#37997322)

    A trial on Microsoft’s patent claims against Barnes & Noble is scheduled for February in Washington.

    Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-08/barnes-noble-urges-u-s-regulators-to-probe-microsoft-on-mobile-patents.html [bloomberg.com]

    At least we'll finally see what patents Microsoft has been using to strong arm manufacturers of Android based phones into patent licensing. The must-sign-a-nda-or-we-wont-tell-what-you're-infringing-on tactic they've been using on everyone feels really underhanded to me, and I'm no Microsoft hater.

    I figure there actually has to be something substantial in those patents to merit virtually all the big names in Android phones agreeing to license them at the amount MIcrosoft has been asking.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      >I figure there actually has to be something substantial in those patents to merit virtually all the big names in Android phones agreeing to license them at the amount MIcrosoft has been asking.

      No. Usually Microsoft gives them back the same money they paid (for now).
      It's a ploy to make it look AS IF there is something substantial in those patents.

    • by Locutus (9039)
      did you hear that Microsoft was possibly inflating the licensing fee while also signing a marketing deal with the vendors which bring the total cost of "the deal" to zero dollars. It was said that the Samsung deal was such a deal. B&N does not sell or ship any Microsoft Windows based products so there is no place for any leverage there.

      I also expect that schedule to get delayed and delayed many times.

      LoB
    • At least we'll finally see what patents Microsoft has been using to strong arm manufacturers of Android based phones into patent licensing.

      We have already seen some of the patents with the Microsoft vs Motorola lawsuit [patentlyapple.com]. It is not a patent list of which I would be particularly proud.

    • by Xest (935314) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @08:57AM (#37997942)

      "I figure there actually has to be something substantial in those patents to merit virtually all the big names in Android phones agreeing to license them at the amount MIcrosoft has been asking."

      Agreed, IMO the issue at hand isn't whether Microsoft has valid patents, I think it very likely does else firms would be less likely to sign agreements with it, I think the issue is that Microsoft is abusing NDAs and so forth to prevent anyone telling the world what the patents are so that they can re-write software to not infringe on Microsoft's payments.

      Effectively Microsoft is doing it's best to encourage continued infringement so that people have to license. IMO that should be grounds to lose rights to a patent - you should either be open about infringement and give people the opportunity to avoid it or license it, or lose the right to the patent altogether, not trap people into infringing and then force them to pay up. That really is protection racket type tactics.

  • The problem is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @07:08AM (#37997368) Journal
    the android companies that have caved into MS and paid them. Hopefully B&N and Google/Motorola will win out over MS, while those companies that signed with MS will be forced to continue paying.
    • by smpoole7 (1467717)

      > the android companies that have caved ...

      Sad, but for most corporations, that's just considered part of the cost of doing business. They're not going to fight if they feel that it's cheaper just to cave in.

      If hiring attorneys and spending months (or even years) in court doesn't present some obvious benefit for them, or if they think it won't provide a clear strategic advantage, they'll probably choose the path of least resistance -- and cost. Especially in a weak economy.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        From the non-paywall version of the article. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-08/barnes-noble-urges-u-s-regulators-to-probe-microsoft-on-mobile-patents.html [bloomberg.com]

        Without providing figures, Barnes & Noble said Microsoft was demanding the same amount in patent fees that it would charge users of its Windows Phone operating system.

        I can't blame them for crying foul, the patents themselves are a minor portion of MS' total IP related to Windows Mobile and yet they're expecting to charge B&N the same price as if they were licensing Windows Mobile. That's not a matter of being unable to afford the patents, that's a matter of not being able to afford to license an OS that the

    • by Locutus (9039)
      some of those deals are likely to cost the vendors nothing since they included a side deal worth moneys similar to the patent license just for putting a Windows sticker on a box or logo on a web page. They're called Microsoft Marketing Programs and they allow Microsoft to charge an inflated licensing fee while still costing the vendor little, nothing or even to make a profit.

      It will be interesting to hear what happens to those vendor licensing deals if this runs its course. We won't hear too much though bec
  • by andydread (758754) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @08:29AM (#37997766)

    Microsoft is taking ownership of other people's code through the abuse of software-patents. This is scary. The notion that you cannot sit down in front of your computer and write successful code without Microsoft attacking you with a team of lawyers using dubious and obvious software-patents is scary. All you code are belong to Microsoft. They didn't write it but the own it anyway. This egregious behavior is something that Microsoft actually promised in their Halloween document. This is not just against Android. Its campaign to sink open source particularly Linux in the marketplace. By making it an expnesive hassle to deploy Linux vendors will just use windows instead. Its not noble. Its sleazy. MIcrosoft's Steve Balmer has been treating to use sleazy tactics and they are doing it now.

    Here is how it works :
    Microsoft Approaches open source company
    Microsoft: My what a nice open source company you have here
    Microsoft: You know this is a dangerous neighborhood you need some protection.
    Business Owner: Protection? From who?
    Microsoft: Well...From us really.
    Microsoft: Oh and sign this NDA you cannot talk about this to anyone. Got it?

    Its egregious sleazy software-patent extortion tactics.

    The real question is how does the greater open source community stop them. So far only Shuttleworth has pledged to fight them in court if they come knocking on Ubuntu's doorstep

    If you think this is about Android then you are sadly mistaken. This is about LInux and open source victims include:- TomTom, Buffalo, IO-DATA, Kyocera MIta etc. None of those produce Android products. They are now beating drums that Open Office and Libre Office violates their patents. Look for them to start suing anyone that distributes Open Office or Libre Office in a successful product.

    This is their strategy against open source in general If you write open source software that competes with Micorosoft expect them to make it very expensive for you in the marketplace if your product becomes successful.

  • Just because "B&N does not have the cash reserves to support similar licensing" doesn't mean the patents are frivolous. Given that most Android manufacturers have signed licensing agreements with MS, it suggests that the patents are decidedly _NOT_ frivolous. If they were or even if the average person thought they were, several other manufacturers would have pushed back and defended themselves in court.
    • by dell623 (2021586)

      You don't understand the patent system. Even if the patent is frivolous, it takes expensive litigation to invalidate one patent, forget the thousands Microsoft has registered for Pg Up/ Pg Down to double click.

      The patents are frivolous, software patents, with a lot of prior art and can be said to apply to absolutely any computing device these days:

      http://www.geekwire.com/2011/microsoft-cites-new-patents-vs-android [geekwire.com]

      The major phone and tablet makers who signed deals with Microsoft are Samsung, HTC who are also

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      they can't name the patents in court after hearing what the patents are. nifty, eh?

    • by prefect42 (141309)

      Without knowing the details of the agreements (and that's all behind NDAs) there's no way of reasonably coming to those conclusions. For all you know Microsoft are effectively paying companies to license the patents to give it credibility... All you can infer is that it the other companies thought it was in their interest to sign the deal, but you know nothing about what the deal was, or if they were right.

    • by hey! (33014)

      Given that most Android manufacturers have signed licensing agreements with MS, it suggests that the patents are decidedly _NOT_ frivolous.

      "Millions for defense, not one penny for tribute," is not how businesses run. Businesses run to maximize profit. Therefore the principle they operate on is "pay up to $999,999.99 in tribute rather than $1,000,000 in defense." If businesses always act to maximize profits, then the validity of the claim is neither here nor there. It's only a contributing factor to the cost of pursuing a claim or defending against it.

      Also, if you run out of cash in business, you're bankrupt. Cash flow is the first considerat

    • by hedwards (940851)

      They're not disputing the legitimacy of the patents here they're disputing MS' right to charge as much to license those 5 patents as the entire Windows Mobile OS. It's in the non-paywall version of the article.

    • by WorBlux (1751716)
      ", it suggests that the patents are decidedly _NOT_ frivolous" No it means that interval of damages plus costs over the probability curve for this and potential further issues in the future is greater than the cost of settling. Say there is a !% chance of a reward of $100 dollars per device and a 2.5% chance of $50 per device, either which outweighs the licencing cost.
  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Wednesday November 09, 2011 @08:49AM (#37997890)
    If they have a valid claim, Microsoft should not be allowed to hide it under a blackmail-as-nda bushel basket. If they do have something valid, I suspect it is very trivial to work around and they know it. Hence their wisper campaign against Linux / Android whilst steadfastly refusing to show actual proof.

    And when did Brinksmanship become an acceptable / legal business practice? Perhaps it was part of the Supreme Court horseshit decision about Corporate Personhood...
  • I worked for a company that used all its resources to fight off McAfee patent law suites. By the time the battle was won, the attorney's owned enough of the company all they needed was to convince one other investor to become a patent troll company. The only way out was to sell off all of the assets; intellectual property, customer base, hardware, etc. Essentially, the win was for a McAfee competitor and the attorneys. They purchased the intellectual property that was "verified to be a patent McAfee inf

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