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Foxconn Signs Massive Android Patent Agreement With Microsoft

Unknown Lamer posted 1 year,6 days | from the happy-happy-halloween dept.

Android 168

Pikoro writes with news that Foxconn's parent company has entered into an agreement to pay Microsoft royalties for every Android device they manufacture, joining a rather long list of companies licensing patents for Android/Linux from Microsoft. From the BBC: "Microsoft has secured a patent deal with the world's biggest consumer electronics manufacturer to receive fees for devices powered by Google's Android and Chrome operating systems. Hon Hai — the parent company of Foxconn — said the deal would help prevent its clients being caught up in an ongoing intellectual property dispute. Microsoft says that Google's code makes use of innovations it owns. Google alleges its rival's claims are based on 'bogus patents.' 'The patents at issue cover a range of functionality embodied in Android devices that are essential to the user experience, including: natural ways of interacting with devices by tabbing through various screens to find the information they need; surfing the web more quickly, and interacting with documents and e-books.'"

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168 comments

This is GREAT NEWS (2, Interesting)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471283)

Our own capitalist masters in America maintain their superirority over the upstart bourgeoisie of Taiwan! Horay for the American bourgeoisie! Get ready for world war III! Profits! Profits! Profits!

Massive (4, Insightful)

jamesl (106902) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471311)

Beware all stories with "Massive" in the headline.

Re:Massive or tiny? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471377)

Also, how can you tell it is "massive". It looks like all details are confidential. It is unclear which patents are involved, what FoxCon gets in return, how much money is exchanging hands, what is really "covered" by the agreement, etc. It might as well be a "tiny: deal, just focussed on "massive" publicity: "We don't really have anything but with patents you can always do some handwaving, so lets put out a press release how good friends we are, generate some publicity to show Microsoft is still relevant and what a friendly company Foxcon is. As long as they spell our names right any publicity is good publicity. Deal?".

Re:Massive or tiny? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471469)

This covers a lot of the points mods, but it's a pity it was AC.

Because next month we'll see the followup and AC will be over half right.

Captcha Stifle

Re:Massive or tiny? (2)

Eirenarch (1099517) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471651)

I don't think the publicity aims to show that Microsoft is relevant or that Foxcon is friendly company. It aims to show Android OEMs that they must pay when Microsoft visits them.

Re:Massive or tiny? (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472593)

I don't think you understand who Foxconn are. They do the actual manufacturing work for almost everyone in the tech business, from Apple and Motorola to Nintendo and Sony; the aforementioned "clients" they want to shield. In terms of who it affects, it's huge.

Re:Massive (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471443)

Your Mama's so Massive even Microsofts Android Patents couldn't move her.

Re:Massive (1, Insightful)

poetmatt (793785) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471569)

eh? there's something massive here, it's called fuel for the antitrust investigation.

Re:Massive (0)

morgauxo (974071) | 1 year,6 days | (#43473247)

Ha Ha, Yeah, like those still happen anymore.

Even if there was an antitrust investigation the furthest it would ever go is to make Mickeysoft 'donate' their software to a bunch of schools. The 'side effect' of course being further indoctrinating yet another generation into buying their crap years down the road when the kids grow up and enter the workplace.

Microsoft loses nothing (0, Troll)

inode_buddha (576844) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471363)

Microsoft loses nothing because they are collecting for these patents. Likely they are trying to collect enough that even if they lose them in court, their court costs are covered by the patent fees. Meanwhile they have effectively sown a cloud of trouble over Android even though they (microsoft) don't even have anything competitive in this market.

Tl;dr -- it galls me, the chutzpah of these assholes!

Re:Microsoft loses nothing (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471543)

Microsoft loses nothing because they are collecting for these patents. Likely they are trying to collect enough that even if they lose them in court, their court costs are covered by the patent fees. Meanwhile they have effectively sown a cloud of trouble over Android even though they (microsoft) don't even have anything competitive in this market.

Tl;dr -- it galls me, the chutzpah of these assholes!

This is Microsoft's new business model: World's Largest Patent Troll.

See, even if they lose in the future of technology, they can leech off those who innovate.

Re:Microsoft loses nothing (0)

Eirenarch (1099517) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471675)

When I was young we did not call companies with actual products patent trolls.

Re:Microsoft loses nothing (2)

NatasRevol (731260) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471833)

Things have changed since then.

Companies can have products AND be patent trolls.

Re:Microsoft loses nothing (1)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472749)

When I was young we did not call companies with actual products patent trolls.

Things have changed since then.

Companies can have products AND be patent trolls.

Some people on here must be very old. Thomas Edison knew the value of a patent, which was why he was busy patenting things Tesla invented.

Re:Microsoft loses nothing (4, Funny)

thaylin (555395) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471837)

When I was young we did not call crap like windows 8 actual products.

Re:Microsoft loses nothing (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472599)

It's a product in the same way that manure is a product - you can buy it, but it's gonna stink and make you sick to your stomach.

Re:Microsoft loses nothing (2)

jedidiah (1196) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472095)

Ultimately, a troll is someone extracting money for something they don't really own. Whether or not such a person is a "non practicing entity" is really a red herring. It distracts from the really important question.

Should there even be a "property interest" in that thing to begin with?

If not, then they are a troll.

It's not the toll that makes the troll.

Re:Microsoft loses nothing (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472841)

This is Microsoft's new business model: World's Largest Patent Troll.

Which they most likely "stole" from Apple.

Re:Microsoft loses nothing (2)

rwise2112 (648849) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471641)

Microsoft loses nothing because they are collecting for these patents.

Not only that! They could potentially be collecting twice for the same device. Say HTC/Motorola/Samsung gets Foxonn to manufacture the phone, both companies potentially get to pay Microsoft.

Re:Microsoft loses nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43472867)

Considering there's a requirement for the infringed to disclose to the infringer (in this case, the Linux community as a whole...), they're basically guilty of racketeering, extorting agreements and settlements out of the commercial players.

That's NOT how it's supposed to work, folks.

Re:Microsoft loses nothing (2)

ackthpt (218170) | 1 year,6 days | (#43473145)

Considering there's a requirement for the infringed to disclose to the infringer (in this case, the Linux community as a whole...), they're basically guilty of racketeering, extorting agreements and settlements out of the commercial players.

That's NOT how it's supposed to work, folks.

That's now how it's supposed to work, but if we take anything from RAMBUS vs SDRAM manufacturers or SCO vs Linux distributors, just because they are wrong, doesn't mean they can't cover up evidence, shread documents or relentlessly sue people in the hopes of getting them to cave in and using the winnings to augment their warchest for suing more and larger targets. Microsoft already has a Bucket o' Lawyers and plenty of cash on hand so they're doing this. They've lost the innovative edge, if they even had it, because most everything they roll out as a product or service is something someone already had.

damn (-1, Troll)

dAzED1 (33635) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471365)

This makes me want to jump off a building....

Re:damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471387)

Please, go right ahead

Re:damn (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471625)

Can I have your iPad when you're gone?

Google challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471401)

Why the ***k isn't Google challenging this one? I don't get it.

Re:Google challenge (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471439)

Because they're not paying. Therefore they couldn't care less.

Re:Google challenge (4, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471465)

Challenge how? Think of it this way, I say that you should pay me to use your index finger while typing and you agree, would an onlooker do more than say you are being silly? You might think that they should invalidate the patent, but say I have a separate patent for every possible finger on every key on the keyboard, plus one for looking at each pixel on the screen - and each would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to challenge then you can see why they aim at the general anti-competitive behaviour and changing the system.

I also pay you (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471551)

More likely I say you should pay me for the use of the index finger. You agree, all too readily, you will pay me for that middle finger usage.

Shortly afterwards we announce an unrelated joint deal to promote something, which involves large amounts of money from me to you. You pay me my (undisclosed) but likely tony token fee, and we do our joint promotion. So for Samsung this was a subsidy on the Windows Phone from Microsoft.

Outside viewers smell a rat, but the companies concerned are under NDA and nothing short of an anti-trust cartel investigation will open that can of worms. Reminds me of Intel and its "you pay a fortune for our chips and we'll pay you promotion fees back, but only if you don't also use AMD chips". It tooks years before the anti-trust lot tackled that game.

In effect Microsoft has bought an anti-competition agreement hidden behind a patent license. But how can you prove it, when they don't even list the patents supposedly being licensed?

Re:Google challenge (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43472015)

I'm still amazed that you can get modded up to 4 starting a sentence "Think of it this way.." As a point I won't read any further and I imagined I would not be alone. Seems I'm wrong.

Patently Absurd (2)

tuppe666 (904118) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472281)

Except this is just what happened in real life in a deal between IBM and SUN back in the 1980's

http://www.forbes.com/asap/2002/0624/044.html [forbes.com]

here how it ended "An awkward silence ensued. The blue suits did not even confer among themselves. They just sat there, stonelike. Finally, the chief suit responded. "OK," he said, "maybe you don't infringe these seven patents. But we have 10,000 U.S. patents. Do you really want us to go back to Armonk [IBM headquarters in New York] and find seven patents you do infringe? Or do you want to make this easy and just pay us $20 million?" "

Re:Google challenge (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472221)

It's a Google product so Google should fight it. And yes, Gooogle has enough money for every pixel on the screen.

Makes me wonder if Google doubts their ability to overturn the patents.

Google has no standing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43472677)

Therefore they cannot order the judge to change the order or sue for losses, since they haven't lost a thing.

wince (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471403)

Before everyone gets in a twist. Remember MS was in the phone market for 9-10 years before iPhone/Android... They may have some patents here. They did extensive work in this field. Also remember patents expire eventually. I remember people walking around proudly with their ipaq's and chicklet wince phones and spouting how the dreamcast runs wince.

Let me put it to you this way. When MS and the OEMs first came out with the WinCE phone people were excited (windows in my pocket). The actual result was awful. However MS was up to basically the 7 or 8th version of wince before iPhone came out (and apple blew them away).

MS put a ton of work into this. Sure it is MS (or M$ as a lot of people like to say). But in this case I think they may deserve a bit of recompense. There will probably be a few of you out there that disagree with me and call me a troll. But I saw the amount of work they put into it. It was blindingly obvious that they worked really hard on it. It just rather bad at what it was supposed to do.

Re:wince (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471423)

I will disagree with you. Hard work does not mean you deserve to get paid. Lots of people work very hard and produce unpopular products that never make money. This is simply rent seeking.

Re:wince (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471869)

If the hard work results in patents, then they can make money off of it. Regardless of how popular their implementations were.

Re:wince (3, Insightful)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471905)

I would like you to invent something, spend millions of dollars developing it, and then have some other little upstart steal the idea and get rich off your idea without giving you a single dime or line of recognition.

I don't care about liking or hating a company, but I hate the double standard of Slashdot that only certain companies deserve respect and others don't.

There have been, and I can guarantee there will be, Ask Slashdot questions where some little startup or individual wants to find out how to protect their IP or patent, even implement their own DRM. Of course everyone on Slashdot falls over themselves flooding advice on how the "little guy" can protect themselves through patents or copyright, even offering DRM schemes.

But when some large corporation wants the same security with IP they have invested millions or even billions in suddenly the mood changes and everyone on Slashdot demands open, freely exchanged access to IP, free market bullshit, and open this open that garbage.

You can't have it both ways.

Yes, Microsoft has shitty business ethics and guess what, they have been called on each and every one of them and have paid dearly for it. Microsoft is no longer king in any market because of the fallout of their aggressive anti-competitive business ethics in the 80's and 90's. But Microsoft still has a right to protect their IP just like any independent startup, individual, or whatever the current beloved company you feel should succeed more than others.

If Microsoft "invented" something before Android, before iPhone, before any current Smartphone, then they have a right to license and protect that IP, period.

This is how patents SHOULD WORK. Microsoft is being agreeable to cross license their ideas with a company willing to pay licensing to produce products using those ideas. This is the original intent of a patent, to protect the inventor, but allow other companies to use and improve upon the idea..

Instead companies like Apple and Google create a patent portfolio to use as ammunition to slaughter each other in the marketplace. Apple refuses to cross license, and when they do cross license because of consumer pressure or legal action, they demand obscene licensing or royalty fees in an effort to cripple their competition. This is how patents ARE ABUSED.

So yes, no article about Microsoft is ever going to get respect on Slashdot, but I have little respect for double standards. Microsoft has a right to protect their IP and are doing so in a way that allows other companies to succeed off of their past work. Microsoft could be shitheads and refuse to license their IP and thus cripple the Android platform, but I think Microsoft realize that their past IP is about all they have left as they cannot create a winning product in spite of the efforts they made in inventing portions of that product.

Re:wince (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472105)

These patents are bullshit and you know it. MS is running a protection racket, else they would share the patent numbers without a NDA. MS cannot cripple android by not licensing. All they would do is lose in court.

If I go patent the idea of determining even or odd via mod, that should not get me anything.

Honestly I would be fine with no patents on software.I don't want it both ways. I really want to see IP go away.

Apple is a problem. So far I do not think google has sued anyone, but who knows how long that record will last.

Re:wince (2)

jedidiah (1196) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472129)

> I would like you to invent something, spend millions of dollars developing it,

NOTHING we are talking here about represents a large investment here. Although that's not really the point. It's yet another distraction that corporate shills like to throw out.

Patents are meant to encourage companies to disclose interesting things that would not otherwise see the light of day. Patents are not about "rewarding investment". They are not about sweat equity. They are not a virtual land grab.

There is no hypocrisy here because the Slashdot crowd complaining about Microsoft here would raise the same issues for Tivo and any number of other companies.

Re:wince (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43472927)

Please detail how M$ 'spent millions of dollars developing...' such ideas as 'tabbing through screens', etc. was developed by M$. Such idiotic drooling. M$ spent zero on 'developing' and stole most of these ideas from prior art, etc. They don't deserve a dime for most/any/all of it. They're just another excellent example of a criminal corporation. M$ rightly deserves its criminal reputation amongst the enlightened. :)

Re:wince (1)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472981)

rubbish. Microsoft has invented nothing, they have no IP in any field for any product or process whatsoever. your argument has no foundation. microsoft deserves to have their ill-gotten assets seized for their theft, fraud, monopolizing, market manipulation.

Re:wince (2)

c (8461) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472983)

I would like you to invent something, spend millions of dollars developing it, and then have some other little upstart steal the idea and get rich off your idea without giving you a single dime or line of recognition.

Exactly. Someone busts their ass, comes up with a great idea, patents it, builds it, markets it, and then some dipshit comes along and adds some obvious, trivial modification like "on a computer", "on a phone", "on a bicycle", etc to your idea, patents this trivial change, and rakes in the dough.

Or were you thinking of something else?

That's the crux of the problem. Few have a beef against the idea that if you innovated, it's nice if you get paid. The problem is that there's an incredibly tenuous link between patents and real innovation, and it's to the point now where most smart people treat them as entirely independent things.

Now, since patents and innovation are largely considered unrelated, the only way someone can determine whether a patent truly represents innovation is by looking at the patent itself. Absent that, and particularly in scenarios where someone refuses to identify the patent(s), the only sane assumption one can make is that it's not innovation.

Hence the present situation with Microsoft, and pretty much anyone else who waves around patents without allowing verification, not to mention those who wave around whatever shit they can get rubber stamped by their patent office.

Microsoft may have done some innovation and may have the patents to prove it, but given their history as an abuser of the patent system, legal system, innocent chairs, and the very word "innovation", nobody is going to just take their word for it.

Re:wince (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471999)

>Hard work does not mean you deserve to get paid.
People need to learn this. I deal with a lot of people who bitch that so-and-so can pass review after 8 hours of hammering away in Word and their stuff took a month and I reject it for errors/boring/etc. The amount of time you put into it does not matter.

Re:wince (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43473037)

I will disagree with you.

A Linux zealot disagreeing with a post that wasn't completely bashing Microsoft? I'm shocked. Shocked, I say.

Re:wince (0)

gl4ss (559668) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471441)

Before everyone gets in a twist. Remember MS was in the phone market for 9-10 years before iPhone/Android... They may have some patents here. They did extensive work in this field. Also remember patents expire eventually. I remember people walking around proudly with their ipaq's and chicklet wince phones and spouting how the dreamcast runs wince.

Let me put it to you this way. When MS and the OEMs first came out with the WinCE phone people were excited (windows in my pocket). The actual result was awful. However MS was up to basically the 7 or 8th version of wince before iPhone came out (and apple blew them away).

MS put a ton of work into this. Sure it is MS (or M$ as a lot of people like to say). But in this case I think they may deserve a bit of recompense. There will probably be a few of you out there that disagree with me and call me a troll. But I saw the amount of work they put into it. It was blindingly obvious that they worked really hard on it. It just rather bad at what it was supposed to do.

yeah.. like fat32. the rest go into obvious category. I don't suppose you actually used those and other manufacturer devices between 2000-2010? by the same logic these are infringing for example ubuntu is infringing..

Re:wince (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471745)

I don't suppose you actually used those and other manufacturer devices between 2000-2010

I did (even wrote some software for them). I also did not buy them. They sucked. The actual result was awful

MS put a ton of work into this stuff. They will have patents in this field. They were there first in many cases. They are going to get their money. They still make product and are competitors. Their competitors are doing the same thing.

http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3658005&cid=43471495 This sums it up way better than I.

Have you read thru all the patents in question? Not the summaries. The actual wording?

MS and Palm built the 'high end' phone markets. If they had not, Apple would have never got a foot in the door.

Want to know what killed the wince phone? It was not because they sucked. It was 2 things. Power loss of phone meant clean wipe and using that gawd awful activesync. Then on top of that was the craptastic rates carriers were charging for data (think 2-5 bucks per megabyte). I think people would have lived with activesync. But the price scared just about everyone away. Everyone wanted the internet in their pocket. If AT&T had put craptastic caps and huge data costs onto the iPhone it would have sunk too (even the initial rate was a bit shocking). Jobs saw what happened to MS and is why he strong armed at&t into better pricing.

The entire cell phone market is one giant patent fiasco with RAND everywhere. We the customer pay for it.

Re:wince (2)

inode_buddha (576844) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471461)

It's called "the free market" and MS lost that one. However hard they worked actually doesn't mean shit.

My observation is that most companies *love* the free market as long as they own it. Its when they don't own it that they start to act like assclowns.

Welp, too bad you can't have everything.

Re:wince (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471689)

Welp, too bad you can't have everything.

Welp, apparently with a patent, you can.

Re:wince (3, Insightful)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471517)

The problem occurs when their patents are pretty vague and broad, saying roughly that "I invented the wheel" when it is clearly a lie. And it becomes even worse in a ridiculous justice system as the USA, where you have to pay dearly for proving that the crook is lying.

Re:wince (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43472159)

WinCE stalled at 5.x and was superceded by Windows Mobile (WinMo).

WinMo ended at 6.5.3. It has not yet been functionally replaced, but it is no longer actively developed.

Windows Phone 7 is NOT WinMo. Oddly enough, WinPhone 7.5 isn't WinPhone 7, and WinPhone 8 isn't WinPhone 7.5 either. They just keep breaking it. The mind boggles.

I'm not sure what they're going to do about WinMo 6.5.3. It's used on a metric crap-ton of devices that businesses rely on, but the latest development environment that works with it is the aging Visual Studio 2008. The latest .Net framework is Compact Framework (.NetCF) 3.5. If you want to see what happens when an operating system release gets well and truly "stuck" on an old version, look no further. Nobody is making WinPhone 7-8 software. Businesses are still actively developing WinMo 6.5.3 software with an old IDE. When they EOL .Net 3.5, they're going to have a huge problem on their hands. Barcode scanners aren't going to be replaced with ones running the vastly-inferior-for-the-task WinPhone operating system. And .NetCF stopped at 3.5 for WinMo. Microsoft is screwing the proverbial pooch here.

In my day-job, I'm a .Net developer. I build and maintain a system consisting of several types of software (web apps, Winforms apps, SOAP services, WCF services, libraries, CLI apps, and a WinMo app, and all using a massive SQL Server database with reporting services, a.k.a. SSRS) all working together to run a company's main data services. All of these are in VS2010, except for the WinMo app and the SSRS report templates, which are in VS2008. All of them use .Net 3.5 SP1. Upgrades aren't out of the question, and in fact would be welcomed. But Microsoft isn't providing them. You'd think they'd want heavy users on an "upgrade treadmill", but they're not bothering with it. It's really quite odd. At this point, there's a huge demand for them to start that "treadmill" in this market and they just won't do it.

The only answer is to fire Ballmer. (Out of a cannon, if necessary. He is a clown, after all.)

Re:wince (1)

fermion (181285) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472189)

On one hand, as google is doing nothing to stop this it may be that MS has some legitimate patents and the $5-1$15 they are being paid for every phone may be for valid IP. As everyone must agree, MS almost invented the smart phone, although the feature set they envisioned were not anything many people wanted. It is like Apple actually inventing the term PDA, but not the PDA iteself, or being able to bring it to the forefront. Palm probably did the most in that case.

OTOH, Apple has asked for royalty payments for technology it reasonably developed, and most have rightly said no. In terms of smart phones, Nokia was probably the first with actually working technology, followed by the Symbian phones. Windows phones were a gimmick. The fact that these are no longer viable due to other companies using their technologies.

No, in most cases these payments can be best classified as based on relationships, and their characterization would be described as good will. These companies have relationships with MS and the payments are clearly bribes to keep that relationship going. Unlike other patent trolls, the value to to great to be simple nuisance payments. No MS has probably gone and said either pay up, or no more relationship with MS.

If you don't like it, don't encourage it. (3, Insightful)

QilessQi (2044624) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471409)

If you agree with Microsoft's position, and believe that they're owed licensing fees, fine: just be aware that the cost of the licensing fees is being passed on to the consumer.

If you don't agree with Microsoft's position, one thing you can do is to not purchase from any company participating in such agreements. Even better: purchase from a company that isn't, and send a letter to a company that is, so they understand that they're cutting off their own air supply.

If you want to make something go away, make it unprofitable for the parties involved.

Re:If you don't like it, don't encourage it. (3, Insightful)

cdrudge (68377) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471535)

If you don't agree with Microsoft's position, one thing you can do is to not purchase from any company participating in such agreements. Even better: purchase from a company that isn't, and send a letter to a company that is, so they understand that they're cutting off their own air supply.

Unfortunately, that's not really an option unless you just don't want a cell phone. The amount of licensing and cross-licensing in the cell phone industry makes it impossible for you to avoid a manufacturer that has a deal with a company you don't agree with their position.

Sadly true perhaps, but... (2)

QilessQi (2044624) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472567)

...there is at least one primary manufacturer who won't play ball with Microsoft. From the article:

One manufacturer still holding out on Microsoft's Android licensing agreements is Motorola Mobility, which is in ongoing patent litigation with Microsoft — drawing
Google, Motorola Mobility's owner and driving force behind Android, into the fray.

Antitrust shell game (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471929)

I suspect the deal is as follows:

Microsoft pays company X a huge fee in some form, sometimes they call it an investment, sometimes, a joint marketing agreement, sometimes a manufacturing deal. It's called many things, but basically it's a big wad of cash handed from Microsoft to the company X.

In turn, the company X agrees to not make Android devices (I think Nokia signed that), or if it already does, to pay per unit license fees. Basically, the big bonus payment it gets from Microsoft gets smaller for every Android handset they sell vs a Microsoft one.

Of course that's illegal, they got into trouble with Netscape paying ISP to ship IE and drop Netscape Navigator. So here the back payment is dressed up as a patent license, and the forward payment dressed up as an investment in a new subsidiary or similar complicated way of giving the company money.

e.g. Microsoft makes $300 million investment in Barnes and Noble.
"It will come in the form of a new subsidiary of B&N that will include all of its Nook business as well as its educational College business. Microsoft is making a $300 million investment in the subsidiary, valuing the company at $1.7 billion in exchange for around 17.6 percent equity in the subsidiary."

See the B&N deal, basically B&N own that subsidiary, and can extract fees from it. So Microsoft can pretend it didn't give B&N money, and it can pretend it 'bought' a share in a subsidiary company. Anti-trust investigator would take years to unravel the paper trail for that one.

See the Nokia deal, Nokia kills its own phones, received billions from Microsoft and Nokia signs a license to WP7. Normally anti-trust alarm bells are ringing straight away, in effect Microsoft paid to kill a competitor and paid to put its own thing in place. But since Nokia would be the complainant in any anti-trust agreement and Elop is in place, there's no complaint to investigate.
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9209259/Microsoft_to_pay_out_billions_as_part_of_Nokia_deal

All dodgy as f*** but structure in ways that are difficult for anti-trust investigators to unravel.

Re:If you don't like it, don't encourage it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43472371)

I'm surprised this hasn't been done yet. Won't just one of you write that letter?

Re:If you don't like it, don't encourage it. (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472843)

just be aware that the cost of the licensing fees is being passed on to the consumer.

This is a common belief, but it's only true if the market in question is a fully competitive market or a monopoly, which cell phones aren't (they're an oligopoly).

If it's a fully competitive market, then the cost of the cell phone is as low as the manufacturer can possibly make it, so any increase in costs have to get passed on 100% to the consumer or the company will go under. In an oligopoly, though, each manufacturer has enough pricing power that the actual price is usually significantly higher than that (because manufacturers know there's more to be made by everyone keeping the price artificially high than by winning sales by competing on price).

If it's a monopoly, then the cost of a cell phone is whatever the manufacturer feels like, so any increase in costs will get passed on 100% to the consumer because there's nothing to stop the monopolist. In an oligopoly, though, what can stop them is their competitors who may use this as an opportunity to grab market share by providing the same product for less.

The upshot of all this: The price might go up to account for some or all of the cost, the profits (and thus investment returns) may go down to account for some or all of the cost, or the company might cut costs in other ways to pay for it. But an automatic "All cost increases get passed to the buyers." is very much an oversimplification.

The protection racket is still going on ... (2)

slb (72208) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471421)

I can see why they agreed to pay.

Foxcon legal department assessed the cost of litigation to fight against bogus patents potentially higher than just pay those damn mafioso.

Also the behavior of the US justice in Apple vs Samsung may have told them that the mafioso business of extortion through patents is somewhat tolerated in this country. Well not much different finally than doing business in China, but at least in China the extortion by the members of the army or the Central Committee is not hiding behind patent laws and China never pretended to be a free market.

Re:The protection racket is still going on ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471947)

I wonder what the Hon Hai legal department assessed to be the costs of fighting suits from Google, FSF, DOJ, possibly Apple (think about it), possibly Samsung, etc. Tortious interference, restraint of trade, copyright interference, anti-trust, conspiracy, and racketeering are obvious possibilities aside from patent counter-claims. Something here for everybody. We really ought to thank the Borg; now everyone's emperors are revealed to be naked.

See, Eric, what the hypocrisy of your drone-grabbing statements will get you?

Forget free enterprise; even the "progressives" really only believe in monopoly.
 

Re:The protection racket is still going on ... (0)

westlake (615356) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471993)

Foxcon legal department assessed the cost of litigation to fight against bogus patents potentially higher than just pay those damn mafioso.

Grow up.

This is Foxconn, remember.

[The] world's largest electronics contract manufacturer measured by revenues.

Foxconn is primarily an original design manufacturer, and its clients include major American, European, and Japanese electronics and information technology companies. Notable products that the company manufactures include the iPad, iPhone, iPod, Kindle, PlayStation 3 and Wii U.

Foxconn has been involved in several controversies, most relating to how it manages employees in China where it is the largest private-sector employer.

Foxconn's largest factory worldwide is in Longhua, Shenzhen, where hundreds of thousands of workers (varying counts include 230,000, 300,000, and 450,000 are employed at the Longhua Science & Technology Park, a walled campus sometimes referred to as '''Foxconn City'' or ''iPod City.''

Revenues NT$ 3.452 trillion (2011)
Employees 1.23 million (2012)

Foxconn [wikipedia.org]

Look at those numbers and tell me with a straight face that this is a company that can't defend itself.

That its potential exposure wouldn't justify the expense of litigation --- if its attorneys, accountants and engineers saw any reasonable chance of winning on the merits.

Re:The protection racket is still going on ... (2)

jedidiah (1196) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472183)

> Grow up.

You first.

Foxconn has to engage in ADULT risk analysis here. Just to get started, they need to dedicate considerable resources should they decide to fight these patents head on. That money is gone regardless of the results and those results are very unpredictable.

Juries can be fickle things and the potential negative consequences are most dire.

Realizing that discretion may be the better part of valor is a big part of "adult" thinking.

Foxconn actually has something to lose. Some idiot posting in a web forum does not.

Re:The protection racket is still going on ... (1)

thaylin (555395) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472531)

Unless the cost to fight is 9 billion, the the cost to license is 8 billion.

Re:The protection racket is still going on ... (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472579)

Barnes and Noble told them to stuff their NDA and guess what? Barnes and Noble no longer has to put up with MS bluffing. See, it depends on the skill of the lawyers. That is what Foxconn is lacking. Which is understandable since the USA isn't exactly in their jurdistiction.

Patents and back-room deals (1)

phorm (591458) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472991)

Foxcon legal department assessed the cost of litigation to fight against bogus patents potentially higher than just pay those damn mafioso.

That or they agreed to pay for patents in exchange for discounts elsewhere, making the patents appear to be more legit (or at least more widely accepted) but not really adding any cost.

Great news (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471477)

Now even if you aren't a customer of Microsoft you're a customer of Microsoft!

Should we be using Microsoft for Android customer service calls now?

Microsoft DID break new ground (3, Informative)

Miamicanes (730264) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471495)

As fashionable as it is to hate Microsoft and gripe about how badly Windows 8 sucks, the fact IS that Windows Mobile WAS groundbreaking back in the early 00s. It might have been utterly dysfunctional out of the box as an operating system for making voice calls, but as the operating system for a pocket-sized laptop with wireless data capabilities, it picked up the ball where Palm dropped it and ran even harder. Had Microsoft left well enough alone, and reacted to Android by creating proper APIs for implementing alternative 'phone' and 'launcher/homescreen' thirdparty apps (instead of delegating the task to HTC and calling it a day, then later throwing the baby out with the bathwater so it could port Danger's OS from Java to C# and rebrand it as "Windows Phone"), WinMo8, 9, or 10 would have been a strong alternative to Android today instead of the crippled, unloved, locked-down joke we have now that's turned into a cancer destroying desktop Windows as well.

Lots of the things we take for granted in Android were "there" and worked fine in Windows Mobile 5/6, too... and more importantly (for patent purposes), did NOT work well AT ALL in PalmOS (if they worked at all), and barely worked in Android & IOS until 2010 and beyond. The biggest single problem high-end WinMo phones had was hardware -- US Carriers weren't in any hurry to push the envelope, and HTC was perfectly content to give them the minimum they asked for. And HTC made the ill-conceived decision to eliminate the 'windows' and 'ok' hardkeys in an effort to be more iPhone-like, without stopping to consider the fact that all of Microsoft's usability testing up to that point TOOK FOR GRANTED that the device would have two physical buttons that required at least a little bit of physical force to trigger (hence, the in-pocket touchscreen activations that caused endless misery if you got a text message or phone call that went straight to voicemail).

Anyway, the point is that once in a great while, Microsoft *does* manage to do something right, even if it completely drops the ball in other related areas. WinMo had plenty of warts, but circa 2005/2006, it WAS pretty much the best thing you could get if you wanted wireless internet connectivity in a device that could (sort of) limp along and make voice calls in a pinch. And it sure as HELL beat walking around with a Palm Vc or Handspring Visor and $129 18" cable to plug it into your clamshell phone for data a few years earlier, or limping with a later PalmOS phone that was good for making voice calls and managing an address book, but fell flat on its face the moment you tried doing anything that involved realtime network communication with a responsive UI (the UI froze whenever the phone was sending or receiving data due to the way PalmOS Garnet's network stack was stapled onto it as an afterthought).

Also, I believe a big chunk of Microsoft's patent portfolio came from its acquisition of Danger (the Sidekick's maker), which had plenty of its own innovations.

Re:Microsoft DID break new ground (0)

mdragan (1166333) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471583)

Yes, but the fact still remains, that allowing anyone to take good and necessary features, publish the description of those features like they are implementation details (which is what patents should be), then sue the hell out of those who do get the whole thing right just to rob some of their success, is still wrong.

Keep it vague (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471639)

So to paraphrase your post. Basically they tweaked PalmOS.

If their patents had any value, you wouldn't have to cover them with an NDA before listing them. If their patent list can't stand scrutiny then the patents themselves can't have value that stands up to scrutiny.

Normally when Slashdot discusses patents there's a number, the magic patent number, the thing that's remarkably missing with Microsoft. The last one they made the mistake of being open with, was long filenames in a filetable, later invalidated because Amiga had it sooner.

http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/03/ms-patent/

Re:Keep it vague (0)

Miamicanes (730264) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471899)

No. PalmOS in its pre-Cobalt form was fundamentally dead on arrival the moment realtime tcp/ip with a responsive UI became a big deal, just like MacOS9. A PalmOS phone was basically a Palm Pilot strapped onto a headless phone through a serial port. The phone subsystem was pretty much completely independent from the palm subsystem, sharing little more than an internal serial link and battery.

Re:Keep it vague (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43472009)

"No. PalmOS in its pre-Cobalt form was fundamentally dead on arrival the moment realtime tcp/ip with a responsive UI became a big deal"

Patent number?

See vague, lots of words, but no substance behind them. Windows phone BTW isn't realtime, the interrupt signals an event handle and returns. The event releases the thread waiting on it that processes the interupt. Interrupts don't have priorities and they don't yield back to the thread that was running. But lets put that aside for a minute and pretend. What patent number?

Re:Keep it vague (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472659)

No. PalmOS in its pre-Cobalt form was fundamentally dead on arrival the moment realtime tcp/ip with a responsive UI became a big deal, just like MacOS9. A PalmOS phone was basically a Palm Pilot strapped onto a headless phone through a serial port. The phone subsystem was pretty much completely independent from the palm subsystem, sharing little more than an internal serial link and battery.

That's the logical construction of every phone out there, including dumbphones. And even highly integrated modem-and-AP-SoCs.

I say logical because while it's no longer an RS-232 link, it's still virtualized as a serial channel - the physical signalling can be USB, a bit of shared memory and a set of mailboxes, etc, but it's all logically laid out as the AP (runs Android/iOS/Windows/whatever) sends commands to the modem (handles cellular telephony - from baseband through air interface) which does stuff.

Sometimes, the baseband is a software driver, but its still laid out like that in software.

Even in a dumbphone the processor handling the keypad, contacts, etc., is separate from the processor handling the telephony. On powerup most OSes query the modem to access the SIM contact list and use it to populate the contacts app. The modem itself can talk to the SIM for some stuff, but user data isn't one of them.

And yes, Android maintains this as well by having the telephony side abstracted away - the OS makes standardized API calls that get translated to the actual modem command - be it a Hayes AT command, a binary blob in shared memory, or a binary library exporting some APIs.

Now, you can argue that maybe the phone app isn't well integrated with the rest of the OS, in which case it's an OS integration issue. Several Windows Mobile phones were like that as well - I know of one I was looking at years ago that was PocketPC running the manufacturer's app to do phone stuff (it was a PDA with a tacked on modem), or what you would've seen with a WWAN card in your PC - you ran an app to manage the wireless stuff - and how well the app integrated into the host OS determined how well it acted with the OS.

Re:Keep it vague (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43472945)

Or, they don't have actual relevant patents...

They're obligated to disclose them to the infringers or face the prospect that they can't enforce on that group of infringers. Laches takes place at this point because they've been playing this game for 5+ years and not told the AOSS or Linux communities what's actually infringing only that we are. Clearly not legit.

The companies, so long as they're participants in full of those said communities, they've effectively got a Laches case and don't need to sign the NDA OR any agreements. I'm strongly suspecting B&N's legal team saw this and it's part of why they told MS to go pound sand.

We are so emotional (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471741)

As fashionable as it is to hate Microsoft and gripe about how badly Windows 8 sucks

People aren't emotional over Microsoft they just recognise that Microsoft is not a good company, and Windows 8 is single handedly killing off Desktop industry (4 Aticles!? on here in one week). They are simply buying there products from companies that deliver.

Re:We are so emotional (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43472629)

If your standard for how badly Microsoft is doing, you'll need to provide a few more articles than 4 from this place.

Re:Microsoft DID break new ground (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43472085)

WinMo had plenty of warts, but circa 2005/2006, it WAS pretty much the best thing you could get if you wanted wireless internet connectivity in a device that could (sort of) limp along and make voice calls in a pinch.

Never used a Blackberrry circa 2005/2006? Much better devices.

Foxconn doesn't make Android devices (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43471497)

Bogus deal, Foxconn only makes the hardware not the device. It's a contract manufacturer. This will cover only devices Hon Hai make for itself which presumably why the strange wording of the press release, talking about HonHai while implying it covers Foxconn's contract manufacturing.

"While the contents of the agreement are confidential, the parties indicate that Microsoft will receive royalties from Hon Hai under the agreement."

Hon hai is not Foxconn, as I said Foxconn is a contract manufacturer, it competes with everyone else to manufacture devices. If they tried to add a fee, they'd simply price themselves out of the market, Hon Hai on the other hand does make a few devices, and this cover those.

Hon Hai also are fools to pay the Danegeld because Microsoft has a lot of these fluff troll patents and has donated many to 'independent' third party trolls. Sooner or later the next troll will demand money, and the next and the next.

More lucrative than Windows Phones (2)

T.E.D. (34228) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471519)

So how much more money is Microsoft making off of Android than they are off of their own phones?

Death Spiral? (2)

lord_mike (567148) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471529)

Doesn't the usual life cycle of a company typically end with it becoming an patent troll as it nears the end of its life? When Kodak, Polaroid, Xerox and other companies were struggling to stay alive during massive changes in the market, they managed to extend the life of their company by a few years by by gong on a patent licensing crusade. The real tell for Microsoft will be if its patent licensing ever becomes the majority revenue maker in the company. That's generally the true sign that the end is near.

It's certainly not a good sign for the future of Microsoft's mobile business if they are making more money off of a competitor's product than their own.

Re:Death Spiral? (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471589)

It is not a good sign for Foxconn either. You never pay the danegeld. I am not suggesting they are near any sort of real danger for now, just that this only makes them less competitive and it only makes MS bolder in rent seeking from Foxconn.

Re:Death Spiral? (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471785)

Here's a thought. In some cases Microsoft is now double dipping.

The device creators pay the M$ extortion fee, and now the manufacturer does as well. So, for every phone made M$ has potentially doubled there profits. Illegal? Probably not. Unethical? When has that ever gotten in the way of M$ profits?

Re:Death Spiral? (1)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471739)

Microsoft has been threatening Linux for years. I mean, they even helped fund SCO's ridiculous lawsuits.

This isn't new behavior for them. It's a way to turn a free (in software costs) product cost money. Honestly, I'm surprised they didn't go this route when Android first came on the market. They probably didn't want to go after Google directly back then.

The largest recent change has been the massive (and illegal if you look at the trial details) winnings in the Samsung case.

Re:Death Spiral? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43472225)

Might it be fair to say that Microsoft is now the one doing the Scroogling?? ah haha

That tears it! (2)

jbeaupre (752124) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471663)

I'm voting with my wallet. I'm definitely not going to be buying an iPhone made by Foxxcon. Who's with me?

Re:That tears it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43472277)

Good on you to bring Apple into this discussion. No Slashdot thread can be complete without Apple hate.

Re:That tears it! (1)

jbeaupre (752124) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472901)

Hear that whooshing sound? That's a joke going over your head. If you still don't get it, I'd be happy to explain it to you. I'll write very slowly for you.

IE is the fastest browser (3, Funny)

andrewlivi (2273910) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471709)

"The patents at issue cover... surfing the web more quickly"

Brilliant, if you're not the fastest just patent the idea of being fast and sue everyone.

Apple OEM licenses Android patents from Microsoft (2, Interesting)

citizenr (871508) | 1 year,6 days | (#43471977)

This is brilliant. Company that mainly makes Apple products will license "Android patents" from Microsoft.
Lets rephrase that. Microsoft hates Android, Apple hates Android, Apple tells its biggest client "go fetch". Foxconn does what its being told and promises to pay for something that doesnt exist and doesnt belong to a person it is giving money to. Whats more it will pay for every Android device it makes ... except it doesnt make any, it makes Apple devices.

Its an equivalent of Nokia licensing imaginary Android patents from Microsoft ... oh wait, Nokia DID license those too haha. Whats next? Dell licensing those patents? HP? Maybe Lexmark or Adobe? or Procter & Gamble?

Re:Apple OEM licenses Android patents from Microso (2)

transporter_ii (986545) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472555)

Interesting, but with some searching, Foxconn does actually make android/chrome devices:

Google Glass project said to be made by Foxconn in California
FoxConn Making An Amazon Phone For 2013
Acer Android phones...made by FoxConn

Granted, it seems to be a small percentage of what they do for Apple, it isn't exactly..."they don't make any"

Re:Apple OEM licenses Android patents from Microso (2)

Sockatume (732728) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472643)

Foxconn isn't just an "Apple OEM", they make portable electronic devices for nearly everybody, including - yes - Android devices.

You can't regain relevancy via the courtroom. (1)

wcrowe (94389) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472067)

Things must be worse at Microsoft than I thought. Trying to regain relevancy via the courtroom sounds desperate. That's just what Atari was doing right before they faded into the sunset.

Racketeering (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,6 days | (#43472155)

At what point do the anti racketeering laws kick in. Sounds a lot like paying for "protection" to me.

Queue up the Godfather theme song.

M$ changes business model (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472741)

Given that no one wants Windows 8 infecting their electronic devices, Microsoft is left with becoming a bully patent troll.

innovation failure (1)

SkunkPussy (85271) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472837)

It irritates me that Microsoft, having consistently failed to innovate a phone that anybody wanted to use, is now able to extract money out of other people's efforts. Its an innovation tax. Don't bother innovating, as failed innovators will help themselves to the profits of your innovation.

As decribed. (1)

I_Wrote_This (858682) | 1 year,6 days | (#43472879)

natural ways of interacting with devices

If they are "natural ways" they are presumably "obvious". And hence unpatentable?

Or am I just not thinking as someone trying to extract money for doing nothing?

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