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Patents Android Microsoft

Microsoft Increases Android Patent Licensing Reach 103

BrianFagioli writes: Microsoft may not be winning in the mobile arena, but they're still making tons of money from those who are. Patent licensing agreements net the company billions each year from device makers like Samsung, Foxconn, and ZTE. Now, Microsoft has added another company to that list: Qisda Corp. They make a number of Android and Chrome-based devices under the Qisda brand and the BenQ brand, and now Microsoft will be making money off those, too.
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Microsoft Increases Android Patent Licensing Reach

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    it's never enough ... complete global corporate corruption is here

  • What are the actual MS patents for which these Android companies are paying royalties? TFS and every one of TFAs don't say, don't even hint.

  • by Rob Y. ( 110975 ) on Saturday April 25, 2015 @09:57AM (#49550621)

    This is getting pretty weird. Windows Phone is now free, right? So if a phone maker builds WinPhones, do they pay Microsoft nothing for the same patents? Is that legal - to charge a patent royalty to device makers using somebody else's software - using no Microsoft code, while allowing makers of devices using Microsoft software to pay no software or patent fees?

    Microsoft may not have a monopoly on mobile, but the patents in question are surely based on their desktop monopoly. For instance, FAT32. No device maker uses FAT32 because it's a good file system. They use it because of the Microsoft desktop monopoly. So to charge Android device makers a patent royalty on essentially the ability to be compatible with Windows desktops - while letting WinPhone device makers ride free - amounts to illegal tying of WinPhone to their Windows monopoly position, no?

    • by Rob Y. ( 110975 ) on Saturday April 25, 2015 @10:02AM (#49550637)

      ...and yet the EU goes after Google for supposedly anti-competitive behavior for Android, which they provide for free. Along with Google apps and services. Or without them. Yes, there's some grey area where an OEM has to be all Google or all AOSP. And maybe that should be disallowed. But surely, charging OEM's to use your competitor's software and not charging them to use yours is a bigger violation, no?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Google are using their current status to make people use their other programs as much as possible. This is similar to how Microsoft used Windows to make people use Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.

        You also need to keep in mind that Google is a marketing company. They are not providing anything for free, they take your information (and manipulate you to provide even more information via their other programs) and use it to sell marketing to companies.

        But to be fair, I would love for the EU to go aft

        • by Rob Y. ( 110975 )

          Google is certainly using their current status to encourage people to user their other programs as much as possible. Yes, that's their business model. But they don't force people to use them. Google services need to be damn good and damn useful to get people to use them. No amount of encouragement has been able to get people to use Google+, despite the fact that by all accounts it's a really nice system. Facebook has the 'network effect' tying users to their platform. Microsoft has a similar network a

    • For instance, FAT32. No device maker uses FAT32 because it's a good file system. They use it because of the Microsoft desktop monopoly.

      Actually I think that's an incorrect observation. Everyone is using FAT32 because everyone is using FAT32. Much the same reason every uses certain screw drivers, because all the screws are that shape.

      • Close, but not quite: Microsoft still has the vast majority of desktop OS installations, and they only support their own filesystems.

        It's not quite like the screw thing, because there's no single company that dominates screws and screwdrivers. People keep using the same screws because of inertia: everyone's used to flat and phillips screws, and everyone has tools for them, so we keep using them even though they suck. Luckily, more and more stuff is finally moving away from those crappy standards, to Allen

        • by dryeo ( 100693 )

          Actually Robertson screws are a good example of a superiour product that didn't catch on (at least in the States, they've always been common in Canada) due to licensing. P. L. Robertson refused to license manufacturer to most everyone including Henry Ford who found using Robertson screws cut a couple of hours off building a Model T so Ford used Philips instead, at least in America.
          I curse every time I deal with a Philips and smile when using a Robertson.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P... [wikipedia.org]
          http://en.wikipedia.o [wikipedia.org]

          • That's a good point and an interesting story; I didn't know that before. You're right, that really shows the danger in being a greedy asshole and insisting on high patent royalties or worse not licensing because you want to be the only manufacturer. IIRC, the guy who invented the first working intermittent windshield wipers was like this too; instead of just selling rights to his design to Ford, he insisted on making them himself, and Ford just went around him. He eventually prevailed in court and won a

          • by Agripa ( 139780 )

            I agree that Robertson are better in general than Philips but they were designed for different applications and are not direct replacements for each other. Philips is designed to cam-out which prevents over tightening during assembly.

            I like hex drive and Torx which both support angled drivers but Robertson is just as good in that respect.

            • by dryeo ( 100693 )

              Henry Ford seemed to think they were close enough to be direct replacements so he replaced Robertson with Philips. This at a time when cam-out was important due to inexact driver torque.

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      The FAT32 example might be an anti-trust violation. Most of the other stuff probably has nothing to do with Windows desktop OS however. Remember Microsoft was a big player in phones for many years until Apple / Android.

    • This is getting pretty weird. Windows Phone is now free, right? So if a phone maker builds WinPhones, do they pay Microsoft nothing for the same patents? Is that legal - to charge a patent royalty to device makers using somebody else's software - using no Microsoft code, while allowing makers of devices using Microsoft software to pay no software or patent fees?

      Why would it not be legal - you can offer whatever licensing terms you like both on your own patents and on your own software.

    • Just a quibble: IIRC, FAT32 is not covered by any patents at all. It's the "exFAT" filesystem which is patent-protected. FAT32 stopped being useful when portable flash cards passed (IIRC) 2 or 4GB in capacity. exFAT does a somewhat better job with large devices like this, but still, you're right, the only reason people use it is because it's ubiquitous and everything supports it, most importantly Windows, not because it's a great filesystem. So yeah, you could argue that this is illegal leveraging of th

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        FAT32 is not covered by any patents at all.

        Have the patents on VFAT (long file names in FAT16 and FAT32) expired yet?

    • What I don't get about FAT32 is, if (say) I reverse engineered it and created my own code to read/write it, isn't that totally legal? And fair? And pretty much the same as we've been doing with legacy Office (.doc/.xls) files for years?

      So is it that they're claiming some kind of patent on something "special" that FAT32 does? And presumably they couldn't/didn't do the same with Office because everything it does it pretty much just like any other office suite?
      • by dryeo ( 100693 )

        It's a patent so you can't just reverse engineer it unlike if it was only copyrighted. Even if you totally independently invent it, you can't use it due to MS patent. This is one of the problems with patents, sometimes it is just time for an invention and whoever gets the patent wins. Phones were a good example, the technology was there and one day two different inventors showed up at the patent office (with another that week) to patent the phone. First one got the patent which led to the AT&T monopoly.

    • yet the company's with money like samsong shot down those clames.
    • Since most device-to-computer communication now is via mtp or wireless : why use FAT32? For Android (especially Samsung) F2FS would make far more sense.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Usually, I dislike MSFT and the USPTO.

    But I have to credit Microsoft with spending cold hard cash on research, for several years. We need more companies to invest in long-term research. Companies like HP who lay off their R&D staff for a quick buck deserve to go under.

  • Prime example (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Saturday April 25, 2015 @10:16AM (#49550691) Homepage

    If anything points out that software patents should be completely thrown out it's this kind of nonsense. The computer world used to joke about the "Microsoft tax" on new computers due to the cost of Windows. This is, literally, a Microsoft tax on Android devices. At least with Windows you got something, this is money for nothing. This is not what the patent system was designed to do.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Microsoft did the research and built the tech, anyone who doesn't want to pay royalties is free to fund their own R&D and develop their own technology. Rewarding those who invest in R&D and the expense of those who don't but wish to take shortcuts on the backs and work of those who do develop tech is precisely how the patent system is intended to work.

      This is, literally, a Microsoft tax on Android devices. At least with Windows you got something, this is money for nothing

      If having a functional mobile phone is "nothing" in your books, sure. There are 2-300 patents at play here, most of them developed by Microsoft, some

      • by tepples ( 727027 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (selppet)> on Saturday April 25, 2015 @12:59PM (#49551327) Homepage Journal

        Microsoft did the research and built the tech, anyone who doesn't want to pay royalties is free to fund their own R&D and develop their own technology.

        Unlike copyrights, patents disregard provenance. This means that even someone who does fund his own research and development could end up independently reaching the same solutions* that Microsoft engineers reached. This would run the risk of having production shut down by Microsoft's legal department.

        Again, vendors are free to develop their own technology, nothing stops them

        One thing that stops them is the exclusive license granted by national radio regulators to cellular network operators. All cellular network operators holding substantial spectrum leases have chosen to require the use of patented protocols to communicate with their networks.

        * "Same" here shall be interpreted in accordance with the doctrine of equivalents.

    • This is not what the patent system was designed to do.

      At least, not originally.

    • yep some larger company's got the bs patents tossed.so Microsoft goes after the little guys now.
  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Saturday April 25, 2015 @10:22AM (#49550731)
    So Microsoft bullies in the courtroom.
  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Saturday April 25, 2015 @10:26AM (#49550749) Journal

    Well, not only this: their attempts at making motherboards Window-only bootable is also a despicable maneuver.

    • What's funny is when Microsoft started out they would make software to run on as many platforms as possible because at the time there were a bunch of proprietary hardware and software platforms in competition with one another. Now Microsoft is trying go the way of the old companies like Commondore, IBM, Macintosh or any other Hardware/software manufacture of the home PC wars back in the 70's and 80's. Proprietary software running on proprietary hardware with zero compatibility between the competing platform
      • and the very thing that caused the crash in the 80s. to many machines all not compatible with one another and many very expensive with no clue if they where going to still be alive next week.
    • by aliquis ( 678370 )

      Care to tell about it for one pretty uninformed individual?

      I don't know much about TPM and new hardware encryption thingy (for DRM?)

  • It's seems to me that Microsoft is hurting Google's brand. Microsoft is going to continually go after more and more companies. Google needs to make a stand! Enough is enough.
  • Alice vs. CLS Bank has been widely read to outlaw, or at the very least greatly restrict, software patents in the US. Perhaps Microsoft's parasitic gravy train is near an end? One can only hope.

  • Once again I almost threw my laptop into the wall in anger.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?

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