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Microsoft Android Businesses Patents The Almighty Buck

Microsoft's Hottest New Profit Center: Android 276

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."
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Microsoft's Hottest New Profit Center: Android

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  • 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? :-)
  • 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?

  • 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.
  • 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 h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @04:45PM (#36665508)

    Android is not the only ecosystem they shake down for protection money.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @04:45PM (#36665516) Homepage

    When is a company that produces ANDROID-based phones going to stand up to MS and tell them enough is enough, ANDROID is Linux-based, and Linux is not Windows.

    Sadly, if your Android based device is using stuff that is covered in patents Microsoft owns ... the platform is irrelevant.

    The problem has nothing to do with Linux, and everything to do with how utterly broken software patents are. There's so many of them that a 'skilled practitioner' (ie pretty much any programmer) could develop as being a fairly logical application of other things. In many cases, it's stuff that those of us who took CS in school were actually taught in class, or is stuff that other people had developed years before.

    Being Linux doesn't give you a free pass from the suck that is over-broad patents.

  • 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.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @04:58PM (#36665642)

    That means that Android is not just Linux. A distro of Linux could be free and clear of any MS patents but another distro (or Android for that matter) could violate a MS patent. Just being able to use the Linux kernel in your product doesn't mean that MS may not have a real claim to some of the other technology that is paired up with it.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments