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Samsung Joins Ranks of Android Vendors Licensing Microsoft Patents

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 years ago | from the bill-gates-always-wins dept.

Android 186

theodp writes "GeekWire reports that Microsoft and Samsung just announced a patent licensing agreement that gives Samsung legal coverage for its use of Google's Android OS in its smartphones. Under the deal, which covers both mobile phones and tablets, Microsoft says it will receive unspecified royalties for every Android device that Samsung sells. Microsoft previously struck a similar patent deal with HTC, under which Microsoft is reportedly receiving $5 for every Android handset that HTC sells. This latest deal leaves Motorola Mobility, with which Microsoft is currently in litigation, as the only major Android smartphone manufacturer in the U.S. without a license to Microsoft's patent portfolio."

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Frosty Piss (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540088)

FP

SCO, phase II (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540730)

Don't forget to pay your $699 licensing fee, you cocksmoking teabaggers!

Re:Frosty Piss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540732)

FFPR

B&N (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 3 years ago | (#37540102)

Barnes and Noble is currently fighting MS in court, even if they aren't a smartphone vendor.

Re:B&N (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 3 years ago | (#37540236)

I think the funniest day to come will be when (hopefully not "if") Microsoft loses that one in court.

I wonder if the companies currently paying up could turn around and sue Microsoft if that happens?

Re:B&N (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 3 years ago | (#37540366)

That depends on the contract they sign, but it's *very* unlikely that a patent troll would sign a contract that allowed people to get their money back if the patent is found invalid.

Re:B&N (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540422)

MS is a patent troll now? Seriously? Does that term now encompass every company that has ever owned a patent?

Re:B&N (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540510)

MS is a patent troll now? Seriously? Does that term now encompass every company that has ever owned a patent?

No; only those that rent seek over them.

Re:B&N (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540606)

Sorry no. A patent troll is a non-practicing entity. Period. Microsoft does make operating systems that compete with Android. Like it or not, that makes them not a patent troll. An offensive (in both meanings) use of patents - sure. But they don't fit the definition of a troll in this case. Look it up.

Re:B&N (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540710)

Microsoft does make operating systems that compete with Android.

No, they don't. Prototypes like WP7 don't count.

Re:B&N (1)

kartik.thapar (2432590) | about 3 years ago | (#37541194)

Is that your argument?

Re:B&N (0)

paiute (550198) | about 3 years ago | (#37541824)

Sorry no. A patent troll is a non-practicing entity. Period. Microsoft does make operating systems that compete with Android. Like it or not, that makes them not a patent troll. An offensive (in both meanings) use of patents - sure. But they don't fit the definition of a troll in this case. Look it up.

Microsoft is not a patent troll. Microsoft is a patent gnome which figured out the missing step.

Re:B&N (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 3 years ago | (#37540630)

That's kind of the point of patents... you patent something and sell it so no one else can. If someone else wants to sell something with your patent they have to pay you. If someone uses your patent without paying you, you sue them. A patent troll is someone who patents something just to license it, and does not actually produce it themselves.

The patents in question here aren't specified, but since Microsoft is actively engaged in the same market at Samsung, they're probably producing goods using their own patents.

Re:B&N (0)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 3 years ago | (#37540836)

I think the point is that, regardless of whether a company is a patent troll or not, if the patent in question is eventually tossed, could the companies that paid the licensing fees for a now invalidated patent seek repayment. I doubt it in most circumstances that those that had paid the licensing fees could, because they had the opportunity, rather than paying the fee, of going to court to seek remedy for what they viewed as an invalid patent.

That being said, I'm sure we all know that the bulk of Microsoft's patent portfolio is pure garbage, and it certainly would be nice to have a system in place whereby a company seeking licensing fees for a patent understood that it would be an inherent risk that if the patent in question is ever ultimately deemed invalid, they would have to pay the money back.

Re:B&N (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 3 years ago | (#37540854)

But but but we don't need patents at all because the technology will just materialize on its own!

Re:B&N (2)

s73v3r (963317) | about 3 years ago | (#37541810)

Even that is far too much. Microsoft actually uses their patents in their products. Patent trolls don't have any kind of product to speak of.

Re:B&N (0)

Monchanger (637670) | about 3 years ago | (#37540690)

It can apply to any company that utilizes patent law to blackmail other companies.

And yes, Microsoft was one of the pioneers of making outrageous patent claims against Linux, heavily contributing to the current clusterfuck of litigation stifling innovation in the tech sector.

Re:B&N (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540694)

Sue them on what grounds? They are licensing patents that are currently valid under US law.

Re:B&N (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 3 years ago | (#37540778)

They are licensing patents that are currently valid under US law.

That has yet to be tested. Once said patents have been found invalid, then what?

Re:B&N (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540838)

Then they don't have to pay anymore. There are no grounds for a lawsuit.

Re:B&N (1)

s73v3r (963317) | about 3 years ago | (#37541834)

As of now, the presumption is that the patents are valid. Proof has to be brought in order to overturn that presumption.

Re:B&N (1)

Alex Belits (437) | about 3 years ago | (#37541942)

But once proven that patents are invalid or that Microsoft did not spell out actual patents in "licensing agreements", Microsoft can be proven to be acting in bad faith or even fraud.

Re:B&N (1)

NFN_NLN (633283) | about 3 years ago | (#37541510)

This latest deal leaves Motorola Mobility, with which Microsoft is currently in litigation, as the only major Android smartphone manufacturer in the U.S. without a license to Microsoft's patent portfolio."

The article fails to mention that Google bought MMI (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/google-buys-moto-gives-microsoft-an-opening-goog-mmi-aapl-rimm-nok-msft-2011-08-15). So when they say Motorola Mobility, they really mean Google. Things will probably get interesting when Google fires back with some of MMI's patents.

Then again the whole thing is a non-productive waste of time and resources. Three cheers for a broken and counter-productive patent system.

Omg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540130)

Seriously, die. Just fucking die.

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540176)

How is Microsoft even in this equation? Let me guess. Patents, licensing, and lawsuits or the threat of them.

This is just one GIANT cluster-fsck, isn't it.

Re:WTF? (1)

alen (225700) | about 3 years ago | (#37540198)

MS was making OS's when Samsung could barely make a working microwave. MS was making mobile devices when Samsung was still associated with cheap and LArry and Sergey were still in college.

Re:WTF? (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 3 years ago | (#37540270)

Given Microsoft's history of IP theft back then, I wonder how they would have fared if the established players back then demanded and got the same fees and licenses that Microsoft is demanding now?

Re:WTF? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 3 years ago | (#37540794)

Yeah it's all really bad... except when it's used against a company we don't like, then it's justified and we hope the patent litigation is successful.

Three cheers for Microsoft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540192)

The saviour of Android.

Hip hip...
Hip hip...
Hip hip...

Now if only Apple could learn to follow their fine example.

Extortion (4, Insightful)

cmdr_klarg (629569) | about 3 years ago | (#37540224)

Legalized extortion is what this is. Patent reform is needed, and needed sooner rather than later.

Re:Extortion (0)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 3 years ago | (#37540240)

Do you know what the patents are? How exactly are you qualified to call this extortion if you have no insight as to the facts of the situation?

Re:Extortion (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#37540278)

Something that should not apply to math?

The fact is software patents are total bullshit.

Re:Extortion (1)

alen (225700) | about 3 years ago | (#37540332)

then samsung should just make up their own algorithm and code for all these problems. not like there is only one way to do things.

oh wait, it's going to cost money and eat into their margins

Algorithms aren't patentable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540368)

So there's no need to make up their own algorithm.

Re:Extortion (1, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about 3 years ago | (#37540408)

They already have too. Copying code would be copyright violation. Patents protect the entire idea of the solution.

Re:Extortion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540496)

Google did that. They called it "Android". And here we are.

Re:Extortion (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37541174)

Shut up and think about it. Linux is a very public project, and has been for a very long time. MS claim Linux violates some patents of theirs and yet MS have not once mentioned which ones, and have not made a single attempt to stop the Linux kernel from using them. They can simply list each patent in 1 email, point to the code that infringes each, and send it to the LKML. Within a few days, all suspect code will be changed or their patent claims may be crushed under an avalanche of prior-art.

Now you tell me why MS has made zero effort to address their claims against the very public project that is supposedly using their patents? It's not some kids in a basement in a country they cannot touch, it's mostly funded by the computer and tech industry's heaviest hitters. Again, you tell me why they're extorting a Linux fee and not merely telling the Linux project where they have concerns.

Re:Extortion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540608)

There's a lot of room to debate that.

Clearly hardware is patent-able. So a novel arrangement of logic gates soldered onto a PCB should be patent-able, therefore the same configuration of logic gates implemented on a FPGA should be covered by that patent (it's the same logic gate arrangement after all). At this point you have a hardware patent that covers software.

Since all software can be implemented in hardware it follows that any piece of software could be implemented as a custom circuit ad submitted as a patent, which if correctly written would then allow the patent holder to enforce their rights on anyone using general hardware and custom software to mimic their hardware patent.

At this point you may as well take out the middle man and just let patent applications for software be evaluated on their own novelty rather than add the flaming hoop of having to sketch a circuit diagram and add some legalese to get your software innovation patented.

The real problem with software patents is most of them should not pass the muster for novelty. The rule should be "If this were implemented in custom hardware would it deserve a patent?" Some software would pass that test, most would not.

Nope, completely wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37541012)

The hardware has to live in the real world, the program works in the idealised world.

I.e. your circuit will have current flowing through and therefore magnetic field changes, causing countering electric field changes at a distance and modifying your circuit in "unpredictable" ways.

A software simulation of a gearing motor can have 10,000 perfectly meshing teeth.

A real gear using 10,000 teeth would be unable to work.

In a software simulation, there is no backlash unless you program it in. In the real world, it's always there.

If you want a faster circuit, you have to work out how. If you want a faster software, you just buy a faster CPU.

Not at all alike. Patent your circuit. Not the software.

Re:Extortion (1)

jonbryce (703250) | about 3 years ago | (#37540322)

As a guess, the FAT32 file system and Exchange Activesync.

Re:Extortion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540426)

Do you know what the patents are? How exactly are you qualified to call this extortion if you have no insight as to the facts of the situation?

Yes we do. They're the same generic, prior art ridden and ridiculous patents outlined in the B&N lawsuit on Groklaw.

Re:Extortion (1)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 3 years ago | (#37540670)

It's extortion because Microsoft has failed to state what IP Android is infringing. What's suppose to happen is Microsoft would sue Google stating what specific patent Android is infringing. Once the proper evidence has been presented and deemed proper, the court would rule in Microsoft's favor. The court would order Google to remove the offending code and pay Microsoft a fine. Then everyone would be on the merry way.

However, Microsoft has not done this. Instead Microsoft is extorting money based on the assumption that Android is infringing on their IP and the fear that Microsoft would take these companies to court.

No fuck off!

Re:Extortion (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 3 years ago | (#37541074)

It's extortion because Microsoft has failed to state what IP Android is infringing.

Do you seriously think that Samsung was not informed what patents has that this agreement would cover? The agreement may be open ended and include some patents that have not been fully specified, but Microsoft do have enough examples (that have specific licensing programs) that they can show Samsung.

I do believe the level of discussion between the legal departments of the two companies would have been a bit more specific than the simplistic and vague statements that get posted around here.

What's suppose to happen is Microsoft would sue Google stating what specific patent Android is infringing. Once the proper evidence has been presented and deemed proper, the court would rule in Microsoft's favor. The court would order Google to remove the offending code and pay Microsoft a fine.

The code may not be part of Google's code. Some things like VFAT and ActiveSync could be add-ons by the vendors that use Android. And why would Microsoft want Google to remove the code anyway? This is exactly why they have licensing programs for their IP.

Re:Extortion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540992)

Has anyone ever published what the patents are? This feels a lot like the mythical patents Microsoft licensed to Suse.

Feels like extortion to me until someone can name at least one patent. I haven't done the research though, maybe they have named at least one patent.

Re:Extortion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37541470)

Isn't it strange then that the tablets handed out at BUILD were made by Samsung? If they felt like they'd been abused why the hell would they help MS pimp Windows 8 at BUILD? Every single person at that conference got a device which when booted displayed SAMSUNG in huge letters. So either Samsung is a whore or they aren't ticked about this the way you seem to be.

How does M$ get away with this? (3, Interesting)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 3 years ago | (#37540242)

They didn't make android and sure as hell didn't make the Linux OS it runs it. Why is it that microsoft is able to extort money like this?

Re:How does M$ get away with this? (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | about 3 years ago | (#37540274)

FAT Long File Name support

Microsoft invented the file system (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37540296)

Microsoft invented the file system used by many Android-powered devices to store data on SD cards, including a major enhancement released in 1995 that allowed file names to exceed the 8.3 limitation of early versions of this file system. This enhancement, commonly called "VFAT", is patented.

Re:Microsoft invented the file system (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | about 3 years ago | (#37540424)

It's a shame that it's the de-facto standard for a file system that you can plug into anything.

If the card was formatted as ext2, it wouldn't be a patent issue any more - it's a shame about the droves of users complaining about not being able to read their SD card on Windows...

You can get ext2 file system drivers for Windows (and they've been available for some time), but MS choose not to integrate any kind of support for "foreign" file systems into their OS.

Non-admin users; how to load the driver (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37540590)

You can get ext2 file system drivers for Windows

Can a user who is not a member of the administrators group install such driver? And there appears to be a chicken-and-egg problem: how does one load such driver onto an Internet-disconnected PC without first inserting a memory card formatted in FAT or NTFS?

Re:Non-admin users; how to load the driver (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 3 years ago | (#37540972)

And there appears to be a chicken-and-egg problem: how does one load such driver onto an Internet-disconnected PC without first inserting a memory card formatted in FAT or NTFS?

FAT is fine. Just keep to 8.3 length filenames and you do not infringe on any patents.

Re:Non-admin users; how to load the driver (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37541156)

I've been told (I don't remember where) that FAT32 is also patented, whether or not long filenames are involved. Any volume bigger than 2 GiB that Windows can read and write is going to be either FAT32 or NTFS.

Re:Non-admin users; how to load the driver (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 3 years ago | (#37541520)

I've been told (I don't remember where) that FAT32 is also patented, whether or not long filenames are involved.

I think the patents just cover long filenames, but I could be wrong. However, the Windows driver to the read/write ext2 filesystem fits on a single floppy disk so it does not require FAT32. It could also fit on a CD-ROM, which also does not require any Microsoft patented technology.

Default (1)

phorm (591458) | about 3 years ago | (#37540796)

It's also the filesystem that comes by standard on most SD cards, USB drives, etc.

Most people would probably be fairly annoyed if they copied a bunch of pictures/music/whatever on to the card only to have it be reformatted in order to be used on the device...

Re:Microsoft invented the file system (1)

Miamicanes (730264) | about 3 years ago | (#37540942)

I'm pretty sure only about 14 cents of the $5 is FAT32-related, and the bulk of it is due to patents that originated with Windows Mobile. Like it or hate it, WinMo was doing more or less the same stuff Android does today circa 2004. IOS and Android just made it pretty, and gave the dialer app a finger-friendly user interface.

Architecturally, PalmOS phones and WinMo phones were VERY different, and iPhones & Android phones have more in common with WinMo than PalmOS hardware.

Metaphorically:

A PalmOS phone (pre-Treo) was a Dragonball PDA duct-taped onto a cell phone through a serial port, much like a PC with an internal non-Winmodem.

A Windows Mobile phone (and later Treos) was a nasty Windows XP PC with $14 HSP winmodem that offloaded everything to software, including the signal processing itself.

An Android phone is kind of a compromise between the two extremes, like the later-vintage Lucent Winmodems that had a real DSP for the heavy lifting grunt work, but used the host CPU for logic and high-level protocol. There's a software RIL that mediates between the two, but much of the "radio" side has been moved back into its own dedicated hardware (or at least its own dedicated chunk of silicon with its own dedicated CPU on the same die). The "unitary" Windows Mobile hardware model was cheaper to manufacture, but bound the OS very, very tightly to specific architectures (it's not a coincidence that basically all Windows Mobile phones came from HTC -- porting WinMo to some other phone hardware would have been a MAJOR undertaking well beyond the capabilities of any group of hobbyists, even WITH the sourcecode).

Anyway, the bundle of hardware similarities between WinMo's hardware-software architecture and Android's is where most of the royalties go. Between Palm, Microsoft/HTC, and Motorola, it's pretty hard to make a modern phone without infringing on SOMETHING owned by them.

Re:Microsoft invented the file system (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 3 years ago | (#37541898)

Actually, it's a bit disingenious to think that you can stick a modem to a serial port and call it a day. Hardware wise, that's all it is in all smartphones - even highly integrated chips have the baseband connected to the application CPU core via a standard interface like USB or shared memory or somesuch. Very easy and separates cleanly.

The software tack that resides on the application core (regardless of Android, WinMo, iOS, PalmOS, etc) is where the money's at. You may think it's trivial issuing AT commands to control the modem, but there's a TON more stuff going on behind the scenes.

It's a huge complex state machine for starters, and while you're doing one thing, your RIL proxy has to arbitrate by determining if it's safe to issue the command at the time (e.g., set up a data connection in the middle of sending/receiving an SMS or MMS).

In fact, it's so freaking huge and complex that it's really buggy. And modems are equally buggy - GSM07.07 leaves a lot to the imagination. Heck, I've seen a modem trip up the state machine of WinMo (and the RIL) because instead of sending "\r\n" to end a line, it sent "\n\r". Or sometimes "\n" only. (And sometimes you're handling multi-line inputs).

Then there are times when optional parameters aren't, and you have to get the current value so you don't change it, which is ferociously hard at times (in WinMo, everything is asynchronous - the AT command and AT response code were handled separately, easy for software since you just have a receive thread, but insane if you need to synchronously do something).

And nevermind the unsolicited events to complicate the mix (you're int he midst of getting a parameter so you can adjust it or pass it back, and you get an SMS... or a phone call).

It's actually quite a complex piece of code - RIL, the rest of the telephony stack, etc.

Re:Microsoft invented the file system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540446)

1995 + 17 = 2012

The point may soon be moot.
A design patent would have already expired.

How long is a patent good for? How long do patents last? [inventionstatistics.com]

17 years for utility and plant patents (issued prior to 1995). “Utility and plant patents issued prior to June 8, 1995 expire 17 years from the date of issue with the payment of maintenance fees. Patents are not renewable. Under special circumstances, a patent term may be extended.”

Not until 2016 (2)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37540556)

U.S. Patent 5,758,352, filed in September 1996, won't expire until the fourth quarter of 2016.

Re:Microsoft invented the file system (1)

goruka (1721094) | about 3 years ago | (#37540544)

Only in the US you can patent duct taping long filenames into a crappy filesystem by sticking many short filenames together and using a special character not allowed in the original filesystem as delimiter. There is nothing innovative about it and the only reason there isn't much prior art is because any other sane company would simply just replace the filesystem for a better one that supports long filenames natively. On top of that, Microsoft used it's monopoly power (for which they were convicted) to make it a standard by forcing everyone to use it.
So, yes, this is legal extortion thanks to a very flawed US legal system.

That isn't the patent MS have (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540620)

The patent MS have is turning the longer-than-8.3 filenames into 8.3 filenames for DOS programs.

Nothing to do with VFAT or longer than 8.3 filenames.

DO try to keep up, will you?

Re:That isn't the patent MS have (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#37540724)

I thought "turning the longer-than-8.3 filenames into 8.3 filenames for DOS programs" was VFAT. As I understand it, it's impossible to store a long filename on a FAT volume without also transforming it into a short filename.

Re:Microsoft invented the file system (1)

gmack (197796) | about 3 years ago | (#37540698)

Invented? You mean copied from CP/M. Dos V2 added Unix style directories. The only reason anyone uses VFAT is because it is the only filesystem that windows can read that is both properly documented and simple to implement.

It's a tax on being compatible with Windows.

Re:Microsoft invented the file system (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about 3 years ago | (#37541342)

Invented? You mean copied from CP/M.

There were a lot of similarities in the way that you accessed files between DOS and CP/M (drive letters, 8.3 filenames), but the actual FAT file system was not the same as CP/M's.

In fact, that was one of the advantages of MS-DOS over CP/M - the standardized disk format. The old CP/M systems made by the different vendors could not read each other's disks because they had their own customization of the file system. Disk interoperability was one of the reasons that DOS won in the end.

Re:Microsoft invented the file system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37541718)

Thank you for finally explaining this. All of these articles say boldly 'Patents in android code'- they carry on like microsoft is saying they own something fundamental to android.

VFAT is microsoft's invention, it's sketchy (Ala Rambus), but legitmate.

If you want to be able to take your microSD card out of your android phone, plug it into your windows based microSD reader, and see the files without having to install additional software, you will need to use VFAT. This might explain why the Samsung Nexus S has no removable storage (the SMB protocols for transfering files over a network through SAMBA are unencumbered by microsoft patents, and when plugged in the android phone itself could handle any layer of abstration of translation to make it LOOK like a VFAT drive without being one)

Re:How does M$ get away with this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540516)

Its stuff like this which makes me no longer install windows on peoples machines. Used to be around 300 a year, Retail Install, now the machines I work with are all Linux, know quite a few others who went down this road, and quite a few others who now instead install old XP licences or just recondition old machines. Joke. I just hope this is only for mobiles sold into the US, and not the rest of the world that doesn't have them.

Re:How does M$ get away with this? (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | about 3 years ago | (#37540520)

Look at what Apple & Samsung fought over in Europe with the Galaxy Tab. Samsung LOST when it was pretty clear it was obvious and had a ton of prior art. Who's to say Microsoft doesn't hold something like that? It could be a multi-input touch screen or could be tied in with something from the Zune. Who knows?

Honestly, I'm sure the cost/benefit analysis is why it happen this way. Assuming Samsung's lawyers evaluated Microsoft's patents and think they are bunk, it's still cheaper to pay microsoft X amount over Y period of years than to spend W amount in lawyers fees over Z years fighting in court and then risk losing, where you have to pay X*Y anyway plus whatever additional damages the court gives. As well, we're talking millions, if not billions of dollars here. Even if there is only a 10% chance of the courts siding with Microsoft who wants to risk that kind of cash? Any CEO who would gamble like that would (and should) be fired.

Re:How does M$ get away with this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37541558)

This is precisely why the patent claims should be made public, specifically to the offending projects, in this case, the Linux Kernel.

The very fact MS does not do this says they know they can continue this extortion process on many big volume device shifters. It's free money until the manufacturers band together and take them on over the MS patent claims. If they wanted their patents protected, they'd go after the offending LK developers, or their employers.

If there are real issues, LK devs will code around them, or find plenty of prior-art. MS doesn't want this. They want and are getting a Linux tax.

The more companies they give in to the cheaper path, the more weight MS have going after manufacturers. How can this not be extortion or anti-trust?

Because they have patents on something it does (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 3 years ago | (#37541016)

More to the point: They have patents on something it does, and they are valid enough that the companies are willing to pay the asking price. It may be the the patents are quite valid, or it may be that they are on the fence, but the price is low enough. Sometimes it is worth it for companies to just pay.

Cheaper to license than to fight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37541692)

Lawsuits (or threats of lawsuits) get settled all the time based on the expected cost of defense. As a doctor, I've been involved in four potential suits, and none of them got as far as a trial. The parties just balance the strength of the claims against the expense of ongoing legal fees, and some sort of payment gets made to make the problem go away. The more potential validity the case has (in front of a lay jury, that is), the higher the payment, but even totally bogus suits get settled for small amounts because it costs less than the legal fees one would otherwise incur.

I'm sure the same sort of reasoning is going on here - pay some money, the issue "goes away", and Samsung continues with business. These agreements tell us almost nothing about how a real trial would have turned out. Look at Oracle vs. Google - Oracle is trying to make a "smoking gun" out of the fact that Google considered licensing Java patents from Sun for Android, and decided not to do so. That isn't any sort of admission that the patents are valid or that Android is infringing, only that they considered making the issue "go away" and decided for whatever reason not to do so - perhaps the asking price was too high.

Steve Ballmer was a prophet. (3, Funny)

Howitzer86 (964585) | about 3 years ago | (#37540288)

Linux now officially belongs to Microsoft. Pay up.

Re:Steve Ballmer was a prophet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540596)

No, one file system belongs to Microsoft. If I don't use that filesystem, then you can go pound sand.

Re:Steve Ballmer was a prophet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37542044)

You mean linux with FAT write support right? Cause other than that they haven't found anything to go after Linux for.

Modus Operandi (5, Insightful)

deweyhewson (1323623) | about 3 years ago | (#37540302)

This is nothing more than a legalized protection racket.

Microsoft has made claims for years to own the patents on various aspects of Linux (which Android is built on), making only vague references and never specifying what exactly it owns. It then uses this to strongarm companies using Linux into paying them royalties.

The best part is that, unlike illegal protection rackets, this one is entirely supported by the broken patent (and legal) system we have today.

Re:Modus Operandi (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 3 years ago | (#37540542)

Don't you think a company as big as Samsung (US$ 294.5 billion in total assets, almost 3x Microsoft's) couldn't fight Microsoft in court if these claims weren't substantial? Do you honestly thing MS went to Samsung and said "We have some patents you're infringing. We're not going to tell you what they are but they're really good." and Samsung just rolled over? That makes zero business sense.

No. Most likely Samsung knows exactly what they're dealing with, decided it would be more expensive to fight in court and they'd probably lose anyway, so they made a deal.

Re:Modus Operandi (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540860)

Samsung also sells Microsoft-running devices.

"Would be a shame if you didn't get the same 'discount' on your Microsoft OS licenses that all your competitors do"...

Re:Modus Operandi (2)

kirkb (158552) | about 3 years ago | (#37541742)

I've got no mod points, but you're exactly right. The biggest guys to cave in to MS's extortion are WinPhone partners: HTC, Samsung.

Re:Modus Operandi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37541976)

It's not even clear they would lose per se if it went to court, but as a business you just can't justify it to your shareholders. When you ask them whether to pay 300m a year to microsoft or potentially lose an entire arm of business and have years of legal uncertainty, guess what shareholders choose?

I refuse to pay Microsoft for an Android phone (2)

OFnow (1098151) | about 3 years ago | (#37540362)

So shortly the wife and I will need 21st century phones. And apparently the only phone not involving payments to MS is the iphone. I refuse to buy an Samsung or HTC phone now and pay extortion even though I'd prefer Android.

Re:I refuse to pay Microsoft for an Android phone (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540442)

Or you know.. Motorola... you didn't even need to RTFA to know that

Re:I refuse to pay Microsoft for an Android phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540486)

What about Motorola?

Re:I refuse to pay Microsoft for an Android phone (1)

Rhodri Mawr (862554) | about 3 years ago | (#37540528)

So shortly the wife and I will need 21st century phones. And apparently the only phone not involving payments to MS is the iphone. I refuse to buy an Samsung or HTC phone now and pay extortion even though I'd prefer Android.

How bizarrely short-sighted and quaint. Buy the phone that does the best job for you and fulfils your requirements on features vs cost.

Re:I refuse to pay Microsoft for an Android phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37541338)

Requirements:

- voting with your wallet

check!

Re:I refuse to pay Microsoft for an Android phone (1)

PoopCat (2218334) | about 3 years ago | (#37541538)

Why should you think your purchasing criteria apply to anyone else?

Or maybe he actually has beliefs and principles (1)

daboochmeister (914039) | about 3 years ago | (#37541670)

Or maybe you believe that the whole idea of having principles and a backbone is "short-sighted and quaint".

Re:I refuse to pay Microsoft for an Android phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540664)

Did you honestly believe apple is not paying royalties to microsoft? You can count they do. Don't forget the patent auction were google was outbidded by a joint microsoft and apple bid, just to prevent google from countersuing.

Re:I refuse to pay Microsoft for an Android phone (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 3 years ago | (#37541218)

Your idealism is idiotic.

Get the best phone that meets your needs.

Yes HTC does pay MS $5 for every Android phone they produce, but it is only $5, get over it.

Without Android you are forced to go with Apple who is suing the crap out of everyone. Or a MS mobile based phone which well you hate MS so why would you do that? Then there is Nokia with Symbian for a little while longer before they go full on MS, so you can guess that getting support for Symbian is going to suck down the road.

Or, you could go without a smartphone.

here are the patents in msft-moto suit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540458)

5579517 - short and long filenames in a file system
6621746 - flash memory optimizations to prolong life
6909910 - managing changes to contacts database, using info from call logs to create/edit contacts database
5664133 - context menu for items
6370566 - generating meeting requests from a mobile device

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5579517.html
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6621746.html
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6909910.html
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5664133.html
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6370566.html

Re:here are the patents in msft-moto suit (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540644)

Such fucking bullshit. Americans - we don't recognise your ownership of any of these concepts, you neo-mercantilist bastards.

Why They Are Paying Up... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 3 years ago | (#37540474)

Microsoft invented the file system used by many Android-powered devices to store data on SD cards, including a major enhancement released in 1995 that allowed file names to exceed the 8.3 limitation of early versions of this file system. This enhancement, commonly called "VFAT", is patented.
--

Re:Why They Are Paying Up... (5, Insightful)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | about 3 years ago | (#37540956)

Microsoft invented...

No, they did not. There are very, very few real inventions that can be attributed to Microsoft. This is not one of them. VFAT is an "invention" in the same vain as a janitor is "inventing clean" via an application of a mop and a bucket of soapy water to a floor. The term, now apparently forgotten, that once used to describe why such things are not patentable is "an obvious application of the art"

So, as many people pointed out thousands of times:

  • 1. FAT is a copy of the earlier CP/M file system mixed with some bastard, half-assed ports of some features of UNIX file systems of the time.
  • 2. VFAT is an "obvious application of the art" and any patents on it are pure insanity that violates even the most basic premise of the whole idea of patents. But insane is what the US Patent system has become.
  • 3. The very idea of patenting software is another form of demonstrable mental retardation, a part of larger, even more dangerous to the progress of civilization and personal liberties, raving lunacy called "intellectual property".

Re:Why They Are Paying Up... (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | about 3 years ago | (#37541050)

What I can't understand is, how is this any different from SAMBA?

Re:Why They Are Paying Up... (1)

Maquis196 (535256) | about 3 years ago | (#37541296)

I'll happily be called obtuse on this but I would prefer an android phone being sold without vfat support or anything that microsoft thinks they own and the ability to add such capabilities would be paid for as a plugin directly from ms (like virtualbox does with premium modules). This way I can buy a phone knowing that microsoft won't be getting a penny out of me since I have no need for fat32 and people that do need it (say when they plug it into a windows computer something pops up saying "you'll need this to talk to windows".

What about mac users? Mac has access to extX does it? (I really don't know) if so then only windows users need to pay microsoft more money to use their os. Hell, maybe windows can come bundled with the ability to tether android devices to it.

Google Vs Microsoft (2)

JayHades (2046584) | about 3 years ago | (#37540552)

Motorola/Google *NOT* signing anything and bringing this into court might be exactly what the whole Linux sphere needs to bring some light over the MS FUD surrounding their so-called infringment.

It's just like NewSCO (Linux has out code. We won't tell you which, but sign here and it's fine)

One needs to step up to it, to break it.
That's how it works I guess...

Re:Google Vs Microsoft (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 3 years ago | (#37541134)

If this was all just FUD then HTC and Samsung would be fighting these in court rather than licensing them. Neither company backs down from patent fights.

What the article fails to mention (2)

DaScribbler (701492) | about 3 years ago | (#37540720)

What the article fails to mention is that Microsoft and Samsung came to a cross-licensing agreement. Microsoft isn't extorting Samsung like some replies above like to believe. In the deal, Microsoft is also licensing some patents from Samsung as well. It's just not made transparent.

amazing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37540812)

many amazing picture
http://www.infashion2011.com

Patents only last 20 years (1)

Greymoon (834879) | about 3 years ago | (#37541224)

Look for patent length to be changing soon by a congresscritter near you.

Bunch of whiny fanboys in this thread (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37541252)

"Software patents are bullshit", "This isn't innovative", "Microsoft is evil", blah blah blah.

You know damn well if Microsoft, Apple, or whatever company you don't like infringed on someone else's patent, you'd be screaming bloody murder for them to be taken to the cleaners. Nobody disagrees that patent reform is needed, but some of you people let your fanatic idealism overwhelm you. The world is not going to become a place where every piece of software has its source code freely available for everyone to use with no restrictions.

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