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LG To Pay Licensing Fees To Microsoft For Using Android

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the those-who-can't-do-sue dept.

Android 359

PerlJedi writes "InformationWeek reports that LG is the latest in a string of companies who have been bullied into paying 'license fees' to Microsoft for the use of Android on their products. 'Microsoft said the deal with LG means that 70% of Android-based smartphones sold in the U.S. are now covered by its licensing program. ... Microsoft does not disclose how much revenue it's obtaining from Android, Chrome, and Linux licenses, but some analysts believe it may be substantial, to the point where the company is making significant profits from the mobile revolution even though its own offering, Windows Phone, commands a market share of less than 2%, according to Gartner.'"

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I'm honestly confused... (5, Insightful)

iapetus (24050) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674710)

In what way is this different to any other form of extorting money with menaces?

"Nice mobile phone business you've got here. Would be a shame if anything were to... happen to it."

Re:I'm honestly confused... (3, Interesting)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674730)

The fact that the regulators are on the take with bribes perhaps?

Remember that lobbying has an ROI of %22,000

Re:I'm honestly confused... (-1, Troll)

DCTech (2545590) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674776)

Why would it be extortion or why would there be bribes involved? Microsoft owns the patents based on years of R&D (Microsoft Research is the largest R&D center on the industry) and they legally ask for companies to pay to use their patented technology.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (3, Insightful)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674810)

the bribes came in when "somebody" bribed the patent office to allow the actually invalid patents to be issued

Re:I'm honestly confused... (3, Funny)

SharkLaser (2495316) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674860)

the bribes came in when "somebody" bribed the patent office to allow the actually invalid patents to be issued

[Citation needed] Microsoft has a huge R&D division, larger than any other company in the industry has. Their patents are invalid, they're good patents given after lots of research. Microsoft spends billions a year to do it, so it's only fair that other companies pay up if they want to profit from the results of Microsoft's R&D.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (5, Insightful)

laurelraven (1539557) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674984)

Microsoft has a huge R&D division, larger than any other company in the industry has. Their patents are invalid, they're good patents given after lots of research. Microsoft spends billions a year to do it, so it's only fair that other companies pay up if they want to profit from the results of Microsoft's R&D.

The real question here is, how is Android profiting from Microsoft's R&D? Maybe it would help if Microsoft ever actually said which patents were being violated, and how. Have they?

Re:I'm honestly confused... (2)

SharkLaser (2495316) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675104)

They do, but you need to sign NDA. It's common business practice - Google requires it too.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (5, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675342)

It's completely illegal and really ought to be the focus of an antitrust probe. You can't send a letter demanding payment for allegedly infringing upon a patent and be required to sign an NDA to see the patent. That's not a legitimate move and quite frankly, the MS execs that thought of that ought to be dragged out into the street and beaten severely with chairs.

Patents are public information for a reason, one should be able to look them up to figure out if one is or isn't violating one.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (0, Troll)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675216)

Maybe it would help if Microsoft ever actually said which patents were being violated, and how. Have they?

They've been disclosed to any relevant parties. You think all the companies signing deals with MS have no clue what the patents are? No, they signed an NDA, saw the patents, and every one of them has decided to license the technologies rather than fight in court. MS certainly doesn't have to disclose them to the public just to appease some forum trolls.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (4, Insightful)

tonywong (96839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675218)

These are agreements between multi-billion dollar corporations. I don't understand why individuals should care how the specifics of licensing deals should be exposed between companies like Microsoft, LG, or Google. Each of them have their own lawyers, engineers and negotiators to look out for their own interests, if you haven't noticed.

If you don't like the patent system, reform it by lobbying your government. The megacorporations are just playing by those rules and really don't give a hoot about what the average consumer thinks.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (5, Interesting)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675098)

...it's only fair that other companies pay up if they want to profit from the results of Microsoft's R&D.

You see, the problem with patents is that even if you didn't benefit from Microsoft R&D, you have to pay up. How is that fair?

Re:I'm honestly confused... (5, Insightful)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674906)

Yeah, I'm sure Microsoft totally bribed the patent office because it's not like the patent office will just rubber stamp _anything_ anyway.

Your dweeby neckbeard fantasies are amusing to me.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674944)

I believe you left your tin foil hat cranked up to 11. Please turn it down before continuing to post.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674830)

Owning the Patent and Inventing/Developing the technology are two entirely different things.
 
  Just ask Apple.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674850)

It's extortion because if you asked them exactly what Patents you are licensing they will refuse to tell you, unless you pay first, and sign an NDA.

So it's basically,
"Buy this box"
"Can I see what's in the box?"
"No"
"How about pick it up and shake it a bit?"
"No"
"Well, I don't want to buy it then"
"Ok, see you in court"
"Hang on a minute, maybe I will buy it then"
"OK, but before you do, please sign this NDA, we don't want you telling any other mug, sorry future customers, what's in the box"
"That doesn't sound very fair"
"Ok, see you in court then"

Re:I'm honestly confused... (4, Informative)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674978)

unless you pay first, and sign an NDA.

That's not true at all. The NDA is required, but not paying up front.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675014)

You mean these [androidcommunity.com] patents? That is really "years of R&D". Stop trolling, most of that stuff has prior art and/or is obvious. It will not hold water if challenged in court. Why do you think MS was so keen to keep everyone who saw the stuff under strict NDAs?

If they disclose it would be easier to cope with (5, Insightful)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675084)

" Microsoft owns the patents based on years of R&D (Microsoft Research is the largest R&D center on the industry) and they legally ask for companies to pay to use their patented technology."

How do you know they own the patent? Because LG paid? That is not an argument.

"Microsoft owns the patents based on years of R&D (Microsoft Research is the largest R&D center on the industry) and they legally ask for companies to pay to use their patented technology."

If they disclose it would be easier to cope with. Maybe one can remove any offending code, but one is not given the chance to do that...

This is why their tactics are bad.

Maybe someone came up with the idea, without consulting their R&D's ideas. Regardless of how many billions Microsoft poured into it.

That is only one reason why Microsoft sucks and why it approaches extortion.

Re:If they disclose it would be easier to cope wit (4, Interesting)

Barsteward (969998) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675188)

yep, i think the reason is more like"You currently have a microsoft licence - want to keep it???"

Re:If they disclose it would be easier to cope wit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675300)

+1

You are making some assumptions (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675120)

Sure, if you take it as a given that Google is lying and Microsoft is telling the truth, your post becomes reasonable.

1. Google does not believe that Android infringes any Microsoft patents.
2. Neither this nor any of the other licensing agreements reveal what MS patents are used in Android.
3. When Barnes and Noble was approached by Microsoft to make such a deal, MS refused to even tell B&N what patents were involved, and how they were being infringed. It was "trust us, your product infringes big-time, so pay up".
4. B&N told MS they wouldn't agree to anything without specifics. MS showed them the allegedly infringed patents, B&N laughed their asses off and revealed to the world, and told mighty MS "go ahead and sue us and see where it gets you". MS is now suing B&N, and B&N has filed antitrust complaints against MS.
5. Even if you take the most pro-MS view possible, the MS patents revealed by B&N cover a tiny subset of Android's capabilities. Yet MS demanded higher licensing fees for use of these patents than what they charge to use all of Windows Phone 7.

Put it this way - do you honestly believe that Microsoft Research laid the groundwork for Android? Do you believe Android developers paid any attention to any "patented inventions" from Microsoft?

I can't tell whether you are a) a shill b) hopelessly naive or c) sarcastic. I certainly hope it's c).

Re:I'm honestly confused... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675164)

you are an idiot. And a troll. Die.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (2, Informative)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675226)

Hahahahaha. oh look, it's that guy who posts BS. Let's debunk you again. I will call you out every fucking time you do this. [slashdot.org]

First off, we know you're a shill. Second off, microsoft owns zero of the technology they have patented, nor have they even developed it. A patent does not correlate to either a: having researched the technology or b: having developed it. The real good stuff they do isn't patented at all, and they keep it private and confidential for a reason. It's not like they dont' do research, it's just that it isn't tied to the patents.

It only correlates to c: the USPTO provided them monopoly privilege over alleged technology which probably has already been implemented and patented elsewhere (even by microsoft themselves).

Oh and it does correlate to d: they're using the patent exortion to further their R&D, thus making the DOJ ever closer to being ready to throw even more antitrust claims at Microsoft.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (1)

muon-catalyzed (2483394) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675254)

For the sake of humanity we need a free OS to build upon. For example, you develop a low-cost solution utilizing Raspberry Pi running Linux, now you would have to pay MS for protection? Fuck that!

Re:I'm honestly confused... (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674760)

the difference is that lawyers do the extorting.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (5, Insightful)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674778)

Is it me or Microsoft is behaving like some sort of a successful patent troll ?

Re:I'm honestly confused... (-1, Troll)

DCTech (2545590) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674822)

Microsoft isn't patent troll. They do actual research and spend billions a year on Microsoft Research. No one else in the industry has such an good R&D department. Patent trolls don't do research, they just bully companies. Microsoft is within all their rights to ask for payments on their patents, because they actually do lots of research.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (2)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674884)

I am not saying they don't do R&D. But it seem to me that they are spending more and more time "extorting" money from others.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (1)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674958)

Well they managed to Legally obtain Legally valid Patents for those Legally patented technologies.
Wouldn't it be a shame if they just left them in the drawer?

Re:I'm honestly confused... (5, Insightful)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675010)

I would agree with you if we knew what those patents are. But it seem to me with the whole NDA thing these patents are probably worthless.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (-1, Troll)

kthreadd (1558445) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675016)

Not really, just regular patent licensing. It would be extortion if they forced them to pay licensees, they always have the opportunity to stop using Android and no longer infringe on the patents.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (5, Insightful)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674890)

Microsoft isn't patent troll. They do actual research and spend billions a year on Microsoft Research. No one else in the industry has such an good R&D department. Patent trolls don't do research, they just bully companies. Microsoft is within all their rights to ask for payments on their patents, because they actually do lots of research.

Microsoft must have the most inefficient R&D process in history if they are such a good department doing such a lot of work yet none of it seems to make much of a difference in the end products.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (3, Funny)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674994)

So all of Microsoft's products just appear out of thin air?

Re:I'm honestly confused... (2)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675116)

Yes. After Bell Labs, MIT, the US Navy, CERN, Stanford University, and Xerox PARC did all the hard work, and probably didn't patent 90% of thier research, yeah, Microsoft products appear out of thin air.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (2)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675214)

Well, Kinect is pretty damn amazing. Though the rest of their crap is average at best, and software patents in general are illegal. Yes I know that laws have been made that make software patents legal, those laws violate the concepts and purpose behind patents and are themselves illegal. Software is math and math can not be patented.

Besides that: most if not all of the patents in question are invalid: http://androidcommunity.com/barnes-noble-reveals-microsofts-android-patents-in-detail-20111114/

Re:I'm honestly confused... (1)

olau (314197) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675260)

Yeah, Microsoft Research is not R&D in the product development sense, it's research, like the thing your local university is doing. There's lots of good research coming out of Microsoft Research, but the question is whether any of it has anything to do with these patents. It would probably be jumping to conclusions to assume it has.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674842)

It is you. They actually did the R & D and research and want a return on it versus some shell company in Texas buying some obscure patents and blackmailing companies with fake lawsuits

Re:I'm honestly confused... (3, Informative)

allcar (1111567) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675092)

But they do still use blackmail tactics. They will not reveal what patents are concerned. They will not even tell companies that they are threatening to sue until they have signed an NDA. That is not the behaviour of an host, moral company simply seeking fair payment for their R&D. It is extortion.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (5, Insightful)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674922)

I imagine there are several possiblities including the following:

1. Microsoft really has some defensible patents that are essential for these device manufacturers. Could be hardware-related or software-related. It's hard to tell, but so far the agreements have all been with hardware companies, haven't they?
2. Microsoft is offering reasonable licensing terms to the device makers, so the licensing agreement costs significantly less than the cost of litigating.
3. Microsoft may be using these negotiations to advance their Windows Phone OS goals, along with #2.
4. The manufacturers entering these agreements don't already have agreements with Microsoft, but actually want to do business with Microsoft in the mobile device or other areas (personal computers, TVs, etc.)
5. These manufacturers don't have the patent resources to play hardball.
6. Some combination of the above.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675086)

2. Microsoft is offering reasonable licensing terms to the device makers, so the licensing agreement costs significantly less than the cost of litigating.

I think it's pretty clearly this. That is, licensing Microsoft's patents is not cheaper than how the handset manufacturers were doing business before, but now that the legal challenge is on the table, they've run the numbers and it will be cheaper to license the patents.

But I do think Microsoft is taking advantage of the current mobile market, in which all of the various Android handset makers are in close competition with one another. HTC, Samsung, Motorola, etc., all need to invest their full attention and resources on the competition at hand, not open a second front in the courts (where they only stand to save money, not earn profit). If any one of those vendors were to invest significant time and funds on a protracted legal battle against Microsoft, it stands to lose its position in the market versus its competitors, who would then eat its lunch. That's what's really making it cheaper to license the patents -- avoiding a lawsuit is always going to be cheaper than risking your entire business.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675148)

Don't forget that Microsoft is offering to license the patents for a good rate.

Apple sues to get competitors out of the market, and that is how Apple appears to style its patent portfolio. Their patents are not for licensing, but ensuring they are the only players in a market. There is no licensing option with them (look how they jealously guard their MagSafe connector patent.) Apple plays for keeps.

Microsoft just wants their cut but otherwise doesn't give a rat's behonkus what goes on.

Or ... (0)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675150)

7. They weren't smart enough to pull and Apple and base their products on BSD instead of Linux.

BSD-style licensing means they could have kept the entire source closed, making it MUCH harder for any outsider to demand royalties (not to mention the whole "you don't see people suing over BSD any more" angle).

How many companies would be suing Microsoft if all their code was open to inspection?

Re:Or ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675202)

How many companies would be suing Microsoft if all their code was open to inspection?

All of them ?

Re:I'm honestly confused... (3, Interesting)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674814)

I'm confused also, I thought Android was a Google product but apparently MS owns the patent?

Re:I'm honestly confused... (3, Interesting)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674852)

OK, I should RTFA article before commenting. MS is claiming that "certain components of Android and Chrome OS violate its patents" and therefore they have the right to charge license fees. Now I'm confused as to why Google hasn't taken MS to court to settle this one way or another.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674934)

Ask what the "certain components" are or wat patents are violated and you get no answer.

And I personally don't considering "patent every little idea that has been in OSes forever" good R&D, though it may be proftiable since you apparently can extort money from others because of it.

Yeah.. thanks to the Obama admin. patents have been "fixed." Instead they just approve them faster than ever. This type of idiocy is just going to accelerate.

I.P. law was not intended to become a weapon, it was intended for the fair sharing of NEW ideas. It's become just another corporate law paradise with everyone else left out in the cold as usual.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675168)

Look at it this way: patents expire after 20 years, so the faster they get approved the faster they will expire. Otherwise, you can have patents first requested 20 years ago that get granted and then allow the company to sue the pants off someone who used it 5 years ago, and it is still valid for another 20. Now, they would get approved 19 years ago and someone would be able to use it next year. If they patent everything now, 20 years from now there won't be any patents left.

Hey, I didn't say it was much better this way.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (4, Insightful)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674992)

Because ( and I could be mistaken) Microsoft haven't approached Google with this, so there is no legal standing for Google to go after MS. So as long as MS is approaching the phone sellers, Google has it hands tied. ps, I am not a lawyer but this is my understanding of the situation.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (0)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674896)

Microsoft has the patents on a lot of the technology in the phones. This is because they spent a lot of money doing research and development. Say what you will about the company as a whole, but Microsoft Labs does some nifty stuff.

Every time this has gone to court, the judge has ruled in favor of Microsoft on the merits of the patents. Makes sense for LG to just pay a licensing fee and be done with it. Its not like Microsoft is trying to chase competitors out of the market.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674982)

Microsoft has the patents on a lot of the technology in the phones. This is because they spent a lot of money doing research and development.

So the others did not?

IP laws should enforce the patent owners to do something with them in a fair amount of time, otherwise the patents should go to public domain.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (3, Interesting)

SadButTrue (848439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675038)

When has this ever gone to court? The most advanced case is Microsoft vs B&N as far as I know. And the case there is looking very weak. Even if the few claims from the few patents left in the case are found to be both valid and infringed they are so narrow at this point that they are easily worked around.

The problem MS has with their software patents is that they were VERY late to the OS game.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675232)

Its not like Microsoft is trying to chase competitors out of the market.

I LOLed

Re:I'm honestly confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674832)

"Nice mobile phone business you've got here using patents you didn't license. Would be a shame if anything were to... happen to it."

FTFY. It's no different that going after a GPL violator. Not that you should let that get in the way of your karma whoring.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (1)

justforgetme (1814588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675078)

How do you go after a GPL violator? Not to say that I'm against it but If you are that little guy in the shed typing out a brilliant FOSS project and some big software company finds out and develops a, closed source, commercial app from it; you still are the guy who hasn't enough money. How are you going to go after them? Ok, usually that is not the case, usually your project will reach some success and mass before attracting code robbers but still I'm not sure going after a GPL violator applies always.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675194)

If you're that guy then sorry you don't. Life isn't fair. Get over it.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675070)

The key difference is that the opposing side Google and not willing to admit that it isn't stepping on any of Microsoft Patents. And a lot of companies would rather pay Microsoft License fees, which probably offer protection beyond just Android/Linux patients but probably a more general patent protection with mobile devices, some of which LG my be doing themselves.

The problem is too many patents, so it has gotten too confusing and expensive to figure out, so it is cheaper and easier to pay the big patent holders a general licence fee then fight out which one they are are not using.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675158)

nothing. the regulators are already investigating, and microsoft's making their own case much, much worse.

Re:I'm honestly confused... (1)

ddd0004 (1984672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675178)

The difference is in the number of lawyers involved.

Not bad work if you can get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674736)

Professional bullying...

Re:Not bad work if you can get it... (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674826)

    If I was a multi-billion dollar company, I could get away with it too. As all I have is a nice selection of firearms and a few $5 wrenches, I'm limited to bullying those within 1000 feet or so.

    The new "license for parking on my street", and "tax for kids making noise that I can hear" is working out well though. in FY 2011, I made $12. Maybe I should see about expanding it into other markets. Maybe I can get a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and learn their methods so I can too excel in the global protection racket.

Guido says ya got a lovely phone here. (1)

swschrad (312009) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674752)

Shame if it would burn down. Really. All these apps. Be a real shame. Just sayin'. ya looked at that contract yet?

I wonder.. when will Google start... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674754)

leveraging their patents? Surely Google has snapped up enough patents now to start extorting some license fees of their own? No one seems to think Google is actually not doing evil anymore, so why keep up the image, I say

Re:I wonder.. when will Google start... (2)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674998)

Google gave HTC a couple patents to countersue Apple. So far, Oracle is the only party suing them directly (at least over android -- they were sued over the linux scheduler a couple years ago).

lol slashdot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674772)

you certainly know what your audience is, and you fill the trough accordingly. nothing like a "OMG MICROSOFT IS MAKING MONEY" post to whip the sheeple into a frenzy.

don't disappoint me, goose steppers, I want to see vitriol and irrational conspiracy theory, or else.

Re:lol slashdot (2)

Linzer (753270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674862)

"OMG MICROSOFT IS MAKING MONEY"

Actually, some of the more reasonable /. readers would probably find this a lot less objectionable if it was a case of Microsoft making money by selling Microsoft products.

Re:lol slashdot (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674932)

Yeah, but both of those guys are at work right now, so it wouldn't really matter.

Re:lol slashdot (0)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675354)

Your comment confuses me.

I'm posting from work, the only place boring enough for me to find slashdot entertaining.

Are you saying that there are members of slashdot who not only do not look at slashdot while working, but they instead spend their precious off time to look at slashdot?

Better than Apple (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674786)

Apple won't even license it's "rectangular touchscreen" patents for Android phones.

At this point I hate Apple alot more than I hate Microsoft.

That's messed up ... (4, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674820)

So, Microsoft is getting paid for every Android device sold in the US ...

And people think the patent system isn't broken.

I wish we had a clear list of the patents Microsoft is asserting are being infringed, because from TFA:

Microsoft has also sought licensing deals from vendors whose products run Linux, which the software maker also claims violates its patents.

That's just sad, really ... you can't build anything without paying Microsoft for the privilege of not getting sued. I'm betting a good deal of those patents are likely stupid things that had been in other operating systems before MS copied and patented them.

Re:That's messed up ... (1, Insightful)

SharkLaser (2495316) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674908)

So, Microsoft is getting paid for every Android device sold in the US ...

And people think the patent system isn't broken.

How does that mean the patent system is broken? Microsoft is just collecting royalties on technology they invented and developed. That is the entire reason patent system is established - so that other companies can use technology invented by other companies who would otherwise keep the details secret.

Re:That's messed up ... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675004)

What do you mean? Microsoft doesn't even tell them what patents are being infringed, but they have a large number of them so everyone is scared that they really do have something valid. Should that be allowed?

Re:That's messed up ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675088)

Sure, they invented that technology, but they had plenty of time to get back their moneys worth. Besides, you're missing the point, a lot of patents shouldn't exist in the first place period. Companies don't fight back, because they need to release the product now, not months or years later if that's how much it takes them to win in court.

Re:That's messed up ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675314)

The companies that didn't fight back didn't plan ahead very well if they need to infringe on someone else's patent just to get their product out NOW, and make money. They can wait, or do their own research and development, or just pay the patent owners, which it appears they are doing. They still make a profit, right? Otherwise they wouldn't be around to complain.

Everyone is so upset because Microsoft patented things and is now reaping the rewards of their efforts. Shame on them. /sarcasm

Re:That's messed up ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675102)

Are you suffering from some sort of degenerative brain disease? You should probably see a doctor before this gets any worse.

Re:That's messed up ... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675114)

How does that mean the patent system is broken? Microsoft is just collecting royalties on technology they invented and developed.

That's one theory ... but since Microsoft has never publicly identified all of the patents, just how many of them would be valid, and how many of them would be technology which had been invented by someone else?

You have to figure, pretty much anything which had been in Berkely UNIX shouldn't be patentable because we all know about it ... anything which was widely taught in schools and in text books shouldn't be patentable because it was common knowledge and available to any "skilled practitioner" ... anything which had been implemented in another OS before MS had it shouldn't be patentable because of prior art.

If this is truly technology that Microsoft solely created from scratch, then maybe ... but if they copied something else that had been done before (which, isn't exactly unprecedented) then all they've done is co-opt someone else's invention by patenting it first.

so that other companies can use technology invented by other companies who would otherwise keep the details secret.

My problem is that MS wants to have their cake and eat it too ... they regularly insinuate that Linux violates its patents, but they won't say which ones are being violated. So, they are keeping it secret and then suing over it.

So, Microsoft patents stuff that might make many of us want to march on the Patent Office with torches and pitchforks because we learned it in first year CS class.

I'm sorry, but the USPTO is staffed with morons who are pushing through patents and collecting fees for it, Microsoft hasn't offered up full public disclosure to which patents are being infringed, and, let's face it, just because Microsoft has more lawyers doesn't mean they're playing within the rules of the game.

So, on face value ... I don't have enough information to know what they claim is being violated, and I don't have enough trust in any large corporation to take them at their word.

But we all know that absolutely stupid things get granted patents, and those often cover things that have been around for a long time and had already been done by someone else.

So, unless you have any actual information to suggest all of these patents are 100% MS invented, and wouldn't be invalidated by a court challenge ... you're just assuming they're all good. For those of us who remember the MS of the 80's ... well, I'm not willing to extend them the benefit of the doubt on this.

Re:That's messed up ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675122)

Except, of course, that these patents aren't actually known due to the way Microsoft goes about its business making deals in private under threat of heavy litigation, and leaves other Linux-using vendors with no way to implement their own alternative solutions.

I don't see how this can't be seen as a misuse of the patent-system, which is meant to trade the ability to profit from one's inventions for bringing those inventions out in the open. Right now Microsoft has effictively found a loophole around it, and is using it's patents - trivial or not - as little boobytraps embedded in the Linux source, making it very hard to anyone to actually use Linux without living in fear of Microsoft's army of lawyers.

It's as genius as it is a vile abuse of the patent-system.

Re:That's messed up ... (1)

HerculesMO (693085) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675134)

If we could mod up higher than 5, I'd do it.

People hate MS so much here that they fail to realize this is actually not a bad thing. Granted, patent reform is needed, but this wouldn't be changed even under a good patent reform. They made the tech, they licensed it, people pay for it. That's just how it works.

Re:That's messed up ... (1)

tokul (682258) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675206)

They made the tech, they licensed it, people pay for it

Microsoft is mostly software company. They haven't made any tech. They threatened companies with patents about some software process and software is not invented. Give two unrelated developers same task and they will come up with very similar solutions.

Re:That's messed up ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675166)

Yeah, well if you shuffle over to Groklaw, and look at the info on Barnes and Noble's complaint against Microsoft, those patents are either not related to Android, or at best a de minimis constituent. Microsoft's just engaging in barratry, in my non-lawyer's opinion.

And, anyway, there's a requirement for marking products that implement patents. Not marking, or wrongly marking can cause you trouble. It'd be interesting to see how these things are marked...

Re:That's messed up ... (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675268)

What inventions, exactly? If it is something like a compact power-efficient cell radio, then fine. If it is something like "method for displaying notifications of newly received email", then that doesn't even count as an "invention" (unless it is something like "notification by direct brain-link", but I very much doubt that) by any reasonable standard. The problem is it could be either of those two kinds of things: MS isn't saying and they aren't letting anyone else say either, which is extremely fishy. And the system is broken enough that it certainly could be as stupid as "a phone with a color screen." We have no way of knowing, and given the circumstances (MS and an NDA) it is logical to assume the stupid kind of "invention."

Re:That's messed up ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675328)

Invented and developed means an actual product, sold in stores, for me. How can other companies be using ( = copy) a "technology" invented by Microsoft if MS is not even willing to openly disclose what is in those patents?

Re:That's messed up ... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674916)

This is why it should be required to disclose offending patents whenever you go to another person and say "hey. your product infringes on my patents. Pay me or I'll force you to spend millions defending yourself in court."

Because if you're NOT willing to disclose what patents of yours are being infringed upon, it's fucking obvious you either:

1. Know the patents you hold are trivial and will get thrown out on a review.

2. Know the patents are weak, and that the offending company can EASILY change the code such that they don't infringe anymore.

hey... wait a second... this seems familiar (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675106)

Isn't this just that hoary old SCO troll? Microsoft's just dropped the pretense of using a sockpuppet to do it's shakedowns. And should be treated the same.


DON'T FORGET TO PAY YOUR $699 LICENSING FEE YOU COCKSMOKING TEABAGGERS!!!

Re:That's messed up ... (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675228)

What makes you think they don't have to disclose which patents are covered? They don't have to discuss it publicly, but I'm sure MS buries LG and Samsung and Google et. al. in paperwork about just which patents are infringed on.

But neither party really wants to give up how they're doing things. Samsung doesn't really want to say 'we might be violating this patent on an implementation of some icon technology' because that tells all of their competitors that might be a better way to do things, and might be worth getting a licence for.

You don't usually patent code, you patent ideas and algorithms - just because I can easily change the code doesn't necessarily mean I've changed the algorithm, and if I picked the previous algorithm for a reason re-inventing it might be tricky if I want to match the performance. You don't patent a specific implementation of an idea.

Re:That's messed up ... (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675138)

The main patents that always come up here, is in being able to understand long file names on Windows. See, if you're only ever running linux by itself that would be one thing, but if you want to connect it to a windows machine, whether that's an Android device, which is sync'd with windows, or with a Linux computer that is talking to Windows over the network you're now directly into something that is reasonable for MS to patent, which is how to talk to their own product. And probably 90% (or some clearly knowable number to the manufacturers) of Android devices connect to a windows machine.

That isn't to suggest there probably aren't other patents at play. Microsoft makes a whole operating system, which is a competing product to linux. If I make a car, or an aircraft or whatever and someone comes along making cars, or aircraft, or whatever, they're directly competing with my business, which is why there are patents anyway.

Telsa motors learned the hard way that if you sell 1000 cars none of the big auto makers give a shit, but if you look like you're going to sell 100 000 cars they want you to licence their windshield wipers (seriously), along with thousands of other things they patented. And suddenly your price points aren't what you were expecting. All the big auto makers have exchanges back and forth, which probably include money, and if you're going to try and be a big player in the market, you need to deal with them. MS is no different. You may not *like* their operating system, but it is an operating system, they have thousands of people working on it, and they have (where software is patentable) a right to protect their innovations.

It's not microsofts job to tell you what patents you're infringing. It's your job when building a product to acquire the licences. I'm not sure there's a good way to build that system to fairly burden anyone, but that's the one you have, so you do your due diligence or you take your chances with lawyers. It really doesn't matter what patents are infringing to you anyway, unless you're a lawyer for someone in these negotiations, you can claim a patent is obvious and shouldn't be patentable all you want, your opinion is worth less than a comment post on digg, the only opinions that matter are those of the people who are actually arguing, negotiating and deciding the cases.

Re:That's messed up ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675142)

Android related patents [androidcommunity.com]

Re:That's messed up ... (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675152)

And people think the patent system isn't broken.

Huh? This is exactly what the patent system is for. Microsoft developed some technology and filed a patent. They were granted that patent. They sell devices in the mobile sector that ostensibly use these patents. A competing product is taking advantage of these technologies without licensing them. Microsoft has entered into agreements with these companies to allow them to continue making money while paying their fair share for technology they are not otherwise supposed to use

I'm betting a good deal of those patents are likely stupid things that had been in other operating systems before MS copied and patented them.

Pure conjecture based on personal bias. Let's ask some multinational mega corporations who've actually seen the patents whether they think they're baseless and flimsy: Huawei, Wistron, General Dynamics, Itronix,Velocity Micro, Onkyo, Acer, Viewsonic, Quanta, Samsung, and now LG all have seen the patents and they all have come to the conclusion that the deal Microsoft is offering is fair. I suppose we'll take your uninformed opinion instead, though.

Re:That's messed up ... (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675286)

It may not be a comprehensive list, but here you go.

http://androidcommunity.com/barnes-noble-reveals-microsofts-android-patents-in-detail-20111114/

MS Tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38674914)

This puts me beyond hate of MS. It's another form of MS tax.

Re:MS Tax (1)

kthreadd (1558445) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674966)

How so? If Microsoft owns patents used by the product you're making you either license the patent or do something else.

Re:MS Tax (3, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675162)

See the many clarifications above. If they were legitimate patents, they would't be playing this stupid black-box bullshit.

I'm hoping the BN Nook suit actually gets this list into the public record already. I'm sure some intern at Google could probably code around them in about 25 minutes, by the way they're insisting that the list is sooper sekret.

I'm guessing it's related to FAT32 (4, Informative)

Markos (71140) | more than 2 years ago | (#38674930)

If it is indeed for the file system, then it's understandable.

Re:I'm guessing it's related to FAT32 (3, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675182)

If it is indeed for the file system, then it's understandable.

Good guess. I hadn't thought of that.

Now, if by "understandable" you mean "comprehensible," then sure. But how is it reasonable [linuxplanet.com] ? From the article (by Bruce Perens):

Indeed, the FAT patents have been invalidated for being non-innovative in Germany, and only survived invalidation in the U.S. through a patent office appeal in which opponents were not allowed to participate. It would take a trial in court to finally settle the issue, a trial that Microsoft would likely have lost.

But justice is too expensive. A trial to invalidate the eight patents Microsoft brought against TomTom, none of them poster-boys for innovation, would have cost more than TomTom had to spend, perhaps in excess of $10 million dollars.

And they think companies will use Windows Mobile? (2)

vinn (4370) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675006)

Ok, let me see if I got this right: they're extorting patent royalties from third party mobile vendors. They're almost certainly making them sign a contract with a time commitment on it. Then later this year they expect these same mobile vendors to ditch Android development and use Windows Mobile instead? All the while they need to continue paying the extortion.

Yeah... that's gonna work well. It virtually guarantees Windows 8 on a mobile device is DOA.

Re:And they think companies will use Windows Mobil (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675110)

They don't give a damn if companies use WM...they don't need them to. WM exists so that they have a platform on which to use their patented technologies so as to avoid appearing to be a blatant troll. The real money is in doing nothing and getting paid for it via ridiculous patent law.

This kind of stuff needs to stop (2)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675082)

One of the patents that Microsoft uses in these type cases is “loading status in a hypermedia browser having a limited available display area” Seems to me this is way too vague to be a valid patent.

Here is a link to the actual patent http://www.patents4software.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/6339780.pdf [patents4software.com]

FAT (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675100)

If it's FAT, why not use a free filesystem (ext2 would do) and provide a driver for Windows users? This could slowly convert the market away from that horrible filesystem for which MS is still collecting patent fees (which in itself is ridiculous, I mean look at that "filesystem"!!!). Even if I want I can currently not use any other filesystem for the SD card on my HTC Android device. That's where the madness is.

Nice to see Microsoft using the rope .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38675190)

Once they hit the end of it, their neck ought to snap like a dry twig.

Extortion, monopolistic activities.. It will be nice when MS gets handed a 30 billion dollar fine (per manufacturer they bullied) and are forced out of the mobile market forever.

This has been going on for a while (1)

cerealito (814622) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675248)

It is not only LG but also HTC and Samsung. A few months ago I read in ars technica that Microsoft might be collecting royalties from around 50% of all android devices: http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2011/10/microsoft-collects-license-fees-on-50-of-android-devices-tells-google-to-wake-up.ars [arstechnica.com]

slow news day? (1)

markhahn (122033) | more than 2 years ago | (#38675302)

this doesn't really seem worth noting, since many companies have many licensing agreements. it's just a way for business people to do some risk mitigation, since the patent system is so broken as to make actually producing a product a game of russian roulette. this kind of licensing is just a way to trade a little money for the guarantee that there are fewer bullets in the revolver. sure, it's extortion, but so is most risk mitigation.

unfortunately, the idiotic MBA-driven approach that gives rise to this is amoral, so such companies face the moral hazard of having engaged in risk mitigation. not only is it not their money, but can be spun to the public as good stewardship. when in reality, it's just cowardice and unwillingness to stand up and make IP reform happen NOW.

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