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back to article Microsoft skewers Google's anti-Android conspiracy claim

Microsoft has hit back at Google's claim that Redmond teamed with Apple and Oracle in some sort of patent conspiracy against Android, revealing that it offered Google the opportunity to join a bid for Novell's patent portfolio, and producing an email in which a Google general counsel declines the offer. On Wednesday, Google …

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Does make sense...

Microsoft is bidding in order to attack (ie make money from the patents), Google just needs them for defense reasons.

That joint bid would never have worked out...

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Silver badge

Actually a pretty good defence

Google argue they needed the patents independently to allow them to be used as a shield, and the pattern of their bidding in the auction already suggested they didn't seriously think they were going to lose.

That said, if Microsoft are extracting money from companies like HTC then presumably Google are saying that if they'd been able to acquire the tools, they would start wading into those disputes? Just open licensing the patents they acquired wouldn't achieve protection for third parties.

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Thumb Up

Google needed the patents???

Then they should have invented something.

Patents are issued to grant a limited term monopoly to an inventor. Wouldn't the world be a nicer place if they were non-transferrable? If the inventor failed to capitalise on their monopoly then the patents expire with them. Think how much more technologically advanced we would all be if money could go into R&D rather than legal fees.

I think we'd all enjoy watching the lawyers trying to figure out what to do with their time.

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Stop

RE: Actually a pretty good defence

"Google argue they needed the patents independently to allow them to be used as a shield,...." This is patently rediculous. If all Google wanted was a shield then they would have had such by entering a joint bid with M$ and Co. Instead, Google was bidding for SOLE ownership, which implies they actually wanted a club rather than a shield. At best, you could suggest Google wanted a patent club to bash back at anyone that throws patent suits at them, but they seem to have seriously miscalculated by not joining the group bid. Maybe it's just a case of Google's management having an ego too big to realise they could be outbid. "We are the Borgle, resistance is futile.... oh, unless you have friends."

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Childcatcher

@Google needed the patents???

Then they should have invented something.

------

I read the first line of this and bristled, about to write that of course Google has invented things....

After reading the rest, I have to say, I've often thought along similar lines as having non transferrable patents. Makes sense to me, it'd still allow companies to get tech to develop by licencing rather than buying the patent.

This does conflict somewhat with an employees IP creations being automatically assigned to their employing company.

That said, I live in the UK, no software patents here thank God. Unfortunately, its easy to be deemed as doing business in the US and so sued for some violation.

Meh.

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Ru
Silver badge

"Then they should have invented something"

Best case scenario here is that they invent a load of really awesome things to do with mobile telecomms, and cross license them with everyone else. And they'd have to do so for less than the cost of acquiring pre-existing patents. And they'd have to do so without treading on any existing patents. These things are non-trivial.

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Bronze badge
FAIL

Joint Shield?

> If all Google wanted was a shield then they would have had such by entering a joint bid with M$ and Co.

How does that shield them from patent attacks by MS and Co.? Sure they can't get attack under those ones, but the patents then can't be used as a defense from other patents attacks by the same companies they would have jointly bid with on these.

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Bronze badge

Transferable patents

What if someone invents something new, gets a patent, then realizes that they don't have the business smarts/cache to make money off of that patent? So Mr. Inventor, looking to make some money off of all of his work, shops the patent to the highest bidder and can retire to his yacht while others who know how to bring things to market can do so. The inventor wins, the business people win, and the consumer wins. It isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I worked at a pharmaceutical company and met someone who had a patent on a well-known drug. She was a very smart person but there was NO WAY IN HADES she's have been able to bring her patent to market for the consumer.( It took ten years and nearly $300,000,000 to put it in the hands of the patient.) And for those ten years, people with a nasty medical condition would have suffered if she hadn't been able to transfer it.

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WTF?

Re: Transferable patents

Firstly, if you don't have the wherewithall to develop a product from a patent, then why on earth are you doing it in the first place? The whole point of a patent is to enable the originator of the idea to realise a product out of it. Anyone that knows anything about developing products knows that old adage of "1% inspiration, 99% perspiration". A raw patent (the inspiration part) only has a value because of its trading value and the legal might that you wield with it. It has only a small actual value.

Secondly, if you work for a pharmaceutical company, then they should register the patent rather than the individual.

The whole patent trading issue is a huge farce of epic proportions, particularly in the computing industry, which, if not checked now will be the death of it.

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WTF?

David Drummond..

what a bell-jockey!

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Thumb Up

Boo Hoo - poor little Google

Seriously, about time Google got it's just desserts...

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Anonymous Coward

So...

There's a loaded gun for sale. If you (Microsoft) buy it, I'm in danger. If I (Google) buy it, I'm safe. But, if we club together and buy it, then unload it, I'm still in danger?

I don't get it. His stupidity is too clever for me.

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Facepalm

you're forgetting the current lawsuits

If MS, Google and others team up to disarm that Nortel gun, MS still has their original weapon pointed at Android. Google would spend vast amounts of money disarming that new, shared, Nortel gun, getting themselves nowhere in the process.

Do you understand now?

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Facepalm

Cause google is already looking down the barrel

Of the gun Microsoft started waving around earlier.

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FAIL

RE: you're forgetting the current lawsuits

You forgot the current lawsuits against Android phone manufacturers are nothing to do with the Nortel patents, so having the Nortel patents makes zero difference to those lawsuits UNLESS Google wanted a patents weapon (not a shield) to use to attack back (or to make pre-emptive strikes). Or, how about Google decided to make some money (not the first time, I'm sure), by picking up a patent weapon to use to extort license fees from other OS vendors? After all, it must really gall them that M$ seems to be taking a fee for each Andorid handset fromt he largest handset makers, maybe they just wanted some of that action.

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Stop

RE: Cause google is already looking down the barrel

"Of the gun Microsoft started waving around earlier." M$ started waving the FAT patent gun, which seems to be the basis of most of their trolling against Android handset manufacturers, waaaaay back in December 2003, when they announced FAT licensing. Android was only originally set up (by Android Inc) in October 2003, and was acquired by Google in 2005 (yeah, a big surprise to many that Google wasn't the original brains behind Android). The intial release of Android wasn't until 2008. It's seems a bit late now for Google to claim they are "reacting" to the M$ trolling which probably started before the first Andorid code was cut. All in all, Google just don't seem to have planned this very well.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_Allocation_Table#FAT_licensing

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_%28operating_system%29#Founded_in_2003

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and MS responds

https://twitter.com/fosspatents/status/99219240342654976

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Anonymous Coward

QQ

What's the next google doodle going to be?

GQQGLE ? :D

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Linux

So what?

Just because Google failed to substantiate M$ bogus patent crusade.

Funny that, the M$ patent fraud reads just like the SCO one.

Wonder who was bankrolling Darl M. as he ran a respected *NIX company into the ground.

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Stop

RE: So what?

".....Wonder who was bankrolling Darl M. ...." I think you'll find (if you bothered to read up on the matter), that one of the earliest and eagerest of licensees was Sun, who could never be described as a friend of M$, but seemed quite happy at a weapon aimed at those IBM and hp Linux sales that were eating the Slowaris base alive.

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How to upset the shills

Looks like you really upset the MS reputation managers, looking at the downvotes! These guys don't sleep!

And the worst part is that everything you say is true. You even won a "denial" that Darl was paid by MS, when we all know that MS spent a lot of cash on the dying SCO just to help it pay the lawyers to attack Linux. The fact that it was done through a shell company wasn't enough to hide all the trails. But that surely doesn't matter for the boys, they'll keep denying the involvement of Balmer's company.

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The plot thickens

Yeth, and it'th going to get even more thickening ...

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bex

software patents my arse

I am all fot copyright of software code but vague software patents, bin the lot of them.

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft not attacking Android?

"There has been no indiction that the Novell patents were purchased specifically to attack Android"

|

This is a good call by Google. Isn't Microsoft already extracting Android 'revenue' from hardware manufacturers under threat of litigation.

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FAIL

Errm..

The HTC and Samsung extortion racket that Microsoft have been venturing upon?

Does ANYONE actually believe Microsoft? I certainly don't. They ponyied up ALOT of money for this, and it turns out it's likely to be usless patents that they can't use against Google.. That's why they are pissed, because their shareholders are pissed at their squandering of money on stuff like this and Skype.

Buying and selling of patents shouldn't be allowed. Either you created something and patented it, or you didn't. You shouldn't be able to buy patents…

It's not surprising that Microsoft, Oracle and Apple are doing this, as that's the way these evil companies work.

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Silver badge
FAIL

RE: Microsoft not attacking Android?

You anti-M$ bias is making you blind to a few simple facts. The existing M$ cases against the Android handset vendors are with totally different patents, unaffected by the Nortel ones. At best, the Nortel patents could be used in a counter-suit, a kind of mutually-assured destruction scenario, but that's not a shield it's a counter-strike to attacks that have already occured. If all Google wanted was a shield for themselves and the FOSS crowd, all they needed to do was join the consortium and then sub-license out the patents to their FOSS friends for a nominal fee or for free under a development scheme, probably at a far lower cost than the billions they would have saved from joining the consortium compared to their solo bid. It also opens up the idea that Google might decide to make some revenue back by trolling those without their own patents to counter with.

"....This is a good call by Google...." How? This is an awful mistake. Firstly, Google would have paid a lot less than their sole bid if they had joined the consortium. Secondly, if all they wanted was to "disarm" the patents, they would have done so by getting joint ownership, but they chose to reject the M$ offer. It looks even worse when you consider the unseemly charade of claiming there was some conspiracy amongst the consortium to "get" Google, it just makes the Google team look paranoid. It looks like Google NEEDED sole ownership, and the only reason I can see to have sole ownership is if you want to use the patents for a little trolling of your own.

If anyone was smart it was the M$ team which seems to have predicted the Google team's behaviour perfectly. I suspect the offer to Google to join the consortium was a win-win play for M$ - they could remove Google from the threat list if Google joined the group and still disarm the patents, and if Google refused then M$ and Co would know they had to bid higher to keep Google out of the game. The ability to go back and expose Google's rediculous posturing later is just a bonus.

Go on, I dare you to swallow your anti-M$ prejudice and admit, just for once, M$ was the smarter player here. BTW, I'm not holding my breath on that.

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Ru
Silver badge
Meh

"that's the way these evil companies work."

Actually, I'd go as far as to suggest that Microsoft, Oracle and Apple have all made innovative products at one point or another, and (at with the possible exception of Oracle, whose products and history I know very little about) some of those products have demonstrably been to the benefit of consumers.

The fact that they are also keen monopolists and vicious capitalists is tangential. They aren't charities, they owe you nothing and if they don't enrich their shareholders they are potentially operning themselves up to lawsuits. They are pragmatic, and obliged to work within the legal frameworks of the markets they operate in. As Google is demonstrating, you don't have to play the same way as everyone else, but there's little point in whining when you failed to take an opportunity when it was available.

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Facepalm

Logic Fails

If you want to take away ammunition for patent based attacks, you make sure you get a license to these patents either alone or by consortium. If Google turned it down for the logic that sharing the patent licenses would weaken them, then Google could have attempted to defend them alone (not unlike if it had acquired them alone).

If Google had joined the consortium, at the very least their cost as part of a joint bid would have been lower, and the total price would probably have been lower too with less major bidders eyeing the package for themselves.

Maybe Google should have thought this out more, especially before making a conspiracy claim and maybe if this comes back to bite them, some heads should roll, specifically, Drummond's or Walker's.

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Silver badge

Yep

If Google really felt the patents were needed for defence - i.e. they are crucial in some way - then they should have made sure that they won. If they didn't believe that they could win then they should have bid jointly as they price would have been low given they were the main opposition. Either way it would be one less set of patents to be sued over. If they aren't crucial then why bother bidding?

Either way the PR monkey's story doesn't add up. Sounds like they played a set of tactics with no plan B and it bit them on the arse. My betting is that the license for use of these will now work out at more than the joint bidding cost. Fuck'em.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Logic Fails

Android (either Google or OEMs) is being sued by Microsoft, Apple and Oracle. How does Google jointly buying new patents with their attackers help them to defend anything? I really don't follow your logic.

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Bronze badge

Happens all the time

In business these days, you see a lot of competitors working together. This is particularly true in the auto industry, where Conglomerate A's subcompany will provide parts for a car built by Conglomerate B. MS and Apple, while definite competitors, also work together through MS' Mac Business Unit for the benefit of both. In a case like this, even though the companies are often competitors, buying patents in a consortium lowers the bidding price, can provide economies of scale, and lowers the cost of production and research.

It's odd, I'll grant you, but it works.

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Silver badge

Wrong choice. . .

"Making sure that we would be unable to assert these patents to defend Android – and having us pay for the privilege – must have seemed like an ingenious strategy to them. "

So, they didn't want to defend themselves by buying the patents because it would have prevented them from using the patents to attack others.

The phrase "hoist by their own petard" comes to mind. . .

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Trollface

The new Googley Logo?

More like a graphic of Google with a bunch of "marionette control sticks" sticking out of its logo with all the freetards below dangling on the strings being pulled left and right over issues without being able to turn around and see the facts.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm

I obviously lack the knowledge to get my head fully around this, surely if a patent is shared across rivals then they cant sue each other. If one person had the patent then it could do what ever it liked.

My only thoughts on the matter would be that if google had assumed it could get them itsself then it could attempt to sue the others or it would give more weight to defend against other patent disputes from MS apple. I think thats what there plan was,

"You want licence fees from my android, fine then heres 5 back at you" that kind of argument,

that does make a bit of sense, Google hasnt stood up to MS yet on there claims and has left the OEMS out to dry, that suggests that perhaps there is something in MS/Apple claims after all, if google felt it needed more ammo to defend itsself i mean

of course no one will fully know whats going on, its all guess work for us minions!

:)

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Anonymous Coward

What...

Did Microsoft recently buy The Register or something? It's been one anti-Google screed after another from El Ragsheet lately.

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Anonymous Coward

More positive than negative. Plus they spelled Google right.

Let's see, there was this particular soap opera, and something about Google failing to pay Android developers.

On the positive side, El Reg recently talked about Google offering free Android phones, how some independent researchers found some vulnerability in Chrome and how fast Google engineers fixed it, Google "cut a deal" for Dealnap (read as though taken verbatim from a Google press release), Chrome 13 came out and it's great and here's a link to get it (again written like a press release), the government "rubber-stamped Google review", Google has a lot of advertising power, Google's data centers are far more efficient than "run-of-the-mill corporate data centers", and Google has recently overtaken Firefox in the UK.

I'm actually thinking that El Reg's reporting is perhaps a little TOO Google-positive.

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Unhappy

but who made the first move?

So Google made the first bid, from recollection of $900m and then accuse the others of getting the patents as evil, and now this as an excuse not to join the consortium - it is double standards and inconsistencies.

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