back to article Behind Microsoft's $15 Samsung Android royalty claim

Microsoft is turning the screws on Google's phone and tablet partners, but what kind of win-win is Redmond really going for? Steve Ballmer's software company was Wednesday reported to be seeking $15 for each device Samsung ships loaded with Google's Android smart-phone operating system. Samsung is reported to be trying to …


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  1. NoneSuch

    Can someone...

    ...not take these bullies to court and finally decide on the validity of these so called patents?

    1. RichyS


      Where the fuck is Google in all this?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Indeed where is Google? Looks like they left them to dry (in the cold), or they are scared themselves. Google have another headache, oracle. The field looks like central Baghdad at the moment, or should it be fukushima?

    2. Rob - Denmark

      It's not quite that easy

      That's where the "incur years of high legal fees" comes in.

    3. N13L5

      I hope Samsung will fight back and prove all these patents are foul patents to boot.

      Quote from Article: "Microsoft will be hoping it can influence the courts in the Barnes & Nobel and Motorola cases – and in any future cases – by saying: if you don't believe us on Android violating our patents, just look at all those who accepted we were right and agreed to pay up."

      One would hope any judge would know that most companies just fold cause they can't afford to fight the bastards...

      The whole concept behind patents is, of course, anti-competitive. That's why the U.S. founding fathers thought the time span should be very limited.

      I think an electronics patent should have half the duration of any mechanical engineering patent, and a software patent should only be a quarter of the duration, so humans everywhere can avoid being held back by a few greedy corporations who would ride a patent till 2050, and not make a single improvement, if they can keep others out of the market by patent power.

      Of course, Apple is worse than M$... cause they just sue to shut down competitors, they won't even license anything. (unless they got forced into a cross-licensing deal)

  2. Anomalous Cowturd

    I've said it before...

    And now I'll say it again.


    Why won't they just come out with it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They won't because...

      They won't come out with it because there's probably nothing to the claims. It's easier to threaten litigation and then say "but you have an out, just pay us and we'll go away".

      I hope B&N sticks to their guns. If they do, I'll be giving them more business.

    2. jubtastic1


      You don't get to see the cards for free.

      Reprehensible? Yeah, but they'd be fools not to.

      1. Doug 3

        patents ARE public

        so the fact that Microsoft is not listing the patent shows they are using them only as threats and do not want the public to know which patents they are using as clubs.

  3. Fehu

    Do they have a patent on unmitigated gall?

    If you can't innovate, litigate.

    SCO redux, anyone?

    1. Medium Dave

      It certainly looks hauntingly familiar...

      Microsoft's new vision: A lawsuit on every desktop.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    What they doin?

    Why Goog is sitting pretty, leaving its partners to get mowed down "hard" by MSoft? Can't they come forward with all the muscle, if Android is legit?

  5. Neil 7

    Money is not what is at stake

    It's about strong-arming hardware vendors into supporting the ailing Microsoft platform along-side, or better yet, instead of Android.

    The IP licensing income from Android is chump-change for Microsoft, even when it's on the scale of Samsung at $15/device. Far better for Microsoft if Samsung becomes (remains?) a strong supporter of WP7.

    You can see what Microsoft are doing by attempting to price their "Android licence" at such a level that eventually WP7 at $15/device starts to become a more appealing - and less troublesome - alternative proposition.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Wonderful protection racket they have going

    <sarcasm>So good to see that protection rackets are alive and well.</sarcasm>

    Google should be out there defending against these allegations of patent infringement. What's more, Microsoft should be required by law when making such allegations to declare, with specificity, which patents are being violated and how.

    One can't accuse someone of committing a crime without specifying the crime or the details of the crime. I can't accuse someone of "harming my person" without saying how, where, and when.

    Oh, to be a large corporation where those rules don't apply.

  7. Sir Bob

    What we need is...

    Elliot Ness. If you squint a bit Steve Ballmer looks an awful lot like Al Capone.

    1. p3ngwin1

      Google tried....

      Google tried to buy a patent portfolio such as the NORTEL 6,000 patents.

      as an example of google trying to look after it's products, services and customers, it wanted to buy the patents to protect itself against such ligation like MS is doing.

      but you know what?

      a bunch of other companies teamed up and bought them.

      Google do try, but they aren't the bad guys here. it's companies like MS, Apple, and the others that conspire. so instead of asking where is Google to defend you, ask why the other companies are attacking in the first place.

      do you see Google ever pro-actively attacking other companies for such petty behaviour as patents?

      or do you see them constantly on the defense because other companies are always attacking because they can't innovate so they litigate?

    2. amehaye

      What they doin? Simple.

      This is not a question of whether Android is legit. This is a question of who has more patents in his war chest. Whether these patents are valid is of no importance.

      Right now Google has next to empty war chest, whereas Microsoft has dozens of patent-full war chests. If Google goes to battle now they will loose.

      Google tried to amend the situation somewhat with the Nortel bid. However, they lost and are now it a worse position.

      Fail, because the patent system has failed us all.

    3. Spearchucker Jones

      I wonder if...

      ...Google's keeping a low profile because the patents are legit and hold water. Note that I don't know. Just wondering.

    4. Anonymous Coward


      This has NOTHING to do with individual vs large corporation. The difference is because this is a CIVIL case, not a CRIMINAL case. Completely different animals.

      1. Mark 65 Silver badge


        Point still stands. You cannot take someone to court saying that they "infringed something" without stating what that something is and how they infringed it. That's kind of a basic premise of an "allegation". This sounds more like that old "you've been caught downloading music illegally so pay £500 and we'll forget about it" ruse. Except the numbers are much larger.

        1. Tom 7 Silver badge

          @Mark 65

          Really? Never heard of SCO? That's exactly what they did. Their claims were baseless and they ran it through the courts for 8 years.

          Cost Novell and others a lot more than $15 a unit.

          And they would have gone on a lot longer but they don’t have the money that MS has.

          The thing is you can go to court knowing your wrong and still win - MS know this and are just gilding the lilly for the gullible who will point to those companies that have 'agreed' to pay danegeld.

          I wish I could afford a justice system.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            and can you explain

            why microsoft lost the xml patent if they are so strong and nobody can defend against them? They lost to small canadian company worth few million yet they got 200m. I don't know the specifics but the problem is the patent system, you play by the rules or you create your own patents. else you pay some money to use them.

        2. Vic

          @Mark 65

          > Point still stands.

          No, it doesn't.

          > You cannot take someone to court saying that they "infringed

          > something" without stating what that something is

          But they haven't.

          They've threatened Samsung. They haven't threatened us. That means they have no obligation to tell *us* what the alleged infringements are - even if we want them to.

          Samsung could tell us, of course - but it is standard Microsoft practice to require an NDA as part of the deal, so if they did tell us, they would no longer have the option of paying the Danegeld.

          Whilst I would rather like them to take the "publish and be damned" approach, I don't have that sort of control over Samsung...


    5. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wonderful protection racket they have going

      And for everyone who might claim this doesn't matter and who doesn't care about the ethical aspects of threatening other parties over the dubious monopoly tickets that patents are, that's $15 ultimately passed on to the customer if such rackets succeed, and $15 siphoned off to someone who hasn't done a thing to deserve the money (despite what the vague claims on their tickets say).

      And when Samsung happens to be a partner of Microsoft as well as a competitor, at what point will legislators have the wit to realise that patents are just another tool for companies like Microsoft to compromise the independence of other businesses and generally interfere with the market in ways that play out just like Microsoft's illegal market interference of the past?

    6. Doug 3

      read up on the B&N patent dispute

      what you will find is Microsoft repeatedly tried to force signing an NDA and repeatedly hammered the B&N people on having an NDA and even pulled out an old NDA signed for a different project and tried to use it. Microsoft is using thuggery and threats to get people to sign NDA's and therefore keeping all the discussions private and out of the public ear.

      the B&N lawyers are the first bunch of lawyers I've seen in the tech industry who seem to know what is going on and are telling Microsoft to go "eF" themselves with all the threats.

      Buy a Nook or Nook Color people and help support a company willing to fight this patent thuggery currently going on.

  8. brale

    It's not 'WIN WIN'. It's 'I WIN DOUBLE, YOU LOSE'.


  9. Anonymous Coward

    patent troll

    in mythology, at least, trolls are diminutive. But it seems the fiercest patent troll on the block is a big fat fck3r called balmer.

    if you can't beat'em, sue'em

  10. David Kelly 2

    We need "loser pays"

    We need a revision to the legal system whereby if one sues and loses one must pay a multiple of the defendant's court costs.

    1. Jean-Luc Silver badge

      @We need "loser pays" - Agree with the sentiment, but careful what you wish for...

      M$ is ridiculous. F*** Balmer, his lame products and his bullies.

      But a legal system where the loser pays may be even more efficient at scaring the bejeezus out of small companies than the existing system.

      Consider this scenario (Apple because they can be pretty trigger happy as well):

      Apple - "You are infringing our patents"

      Small guy - "No, I am not. See you in court"

      Apple - "We can afford to lose. Can you?"

      The better solution would be not to grant those patents in the first place or to have a lightweight prior-art discovery phase. OK, gotta go feed my magical wish granting ponies...

      1. pan2008


        agree, then the canadian company wouldn't be able to sue microsoft for their xml patent. what needs reform is the patent system.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    law firm

    What we have here ladies and gentlemen is a law firm with a software division

  12. John Halewood


    The patents Microsoft seem to be going after are it's old FAT/VFAT patents (which must be nearly exhausted by now) for any system that's got an SDcard on it (after all, you can't pop them into your PC to transfer stuff otherwise 'cos Windoze won't support ext2/3/4 etc. and who's fault it that?), and such wonderfully stupid stuff as patent 6,370,566 from 2002, "Generating Meeting Requests and Group Scheduling From a Mobile Device." Erm, so M$ owns your calendar on anything "mobile". They also own a lot of other patents on things that are completely obvious and trivial, have been done for years on normal computers but M$ have inserted the word "mobile" into it and got a patent on it (although presumably they changed a few bits to justify the difference, or no-one at the patent office bothered to look).

    1. Oninoshiko

      Good question, who's fault is it then windows can't read Ext*

      Last I looked, Ext3 & Ext4 is GPL code which MS can't include in their OS.

      The BSD guys do maintain an independent ext2 system (I believe they make a point to not look at the linux code, as they would rather not "catch the GPL"), but I do not think support for ext3 has been added (although it can be mounted as ext2). For some time even that version was bit by some linux devs deciding to change the inode size (wouldn't it be nice if standards in linux where something that where actually adhered to?).

      Ext4 is not compatible with Ext2 (like Ext3 was). So to my knowlage, no implemtation of Ext4 they could use has been created. This is squarely on the primary Ext* developers for not useing a more open license then the GPL.

      While the blame for MS not supporting Ext3+ is on the devs (for now), I do agree MS' patents are mostly silly.

    2. Neil 7

      Why won't Windows support ext2/3/4?

      Surely with all the talent Google have at their disposal they could come up with a driver for ext2 that can be installed on XP, Win7 etc. and would automatically recognise mass storage ext2 filesystems when connected over USB etc.?

      Sure, it's an minor inconvenience to install the driver the first time but a damn sight cheaper than Google partners paying Microsoft $15 per device.

      It's not as if Windows doesn't already support a number of different file systems beyond NTFS and FAT (eg. ISO's, and UDF).

      1. Ommerson

        It gets worse than this

        The TI OMAP series of devices - found in lots of phones and tablets - have a first stage boot-loader baked into the device that reads a FAT partition in order to boot the system. It may be that this doesn't infringe by virtue of not using VFAT, but who knows?

        I bet other devices work similarly. Do the hardware vendors license the VFAT patent on behalf of their OEMs?

        Even if you remove VFAT capability from the device, you might not be able to escape it at boot-time.

      2. M Gale

        Design != Implementation

        While it's easy to confuse the two, ext* is not GPL. There are plenty of GPL implementations yes, however there are also implementations of ext* under different licenses. Just as an example: is an implementation for OS X, dual licensed under GPL and BSD.

        Microsoft have no excuse other than continuing their vendor lock-in and making it hard for anyone else to use anything other than their godawful FAT32. This has nothing to do with the ext* devs. Though yes, Microsoft's patents are not only silly, they are downright dangerous. As are software patents in general, really.

    3. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Mobile meeting requests

      I'm sure that my cerca 1999 Nokia 9110 communicator had mobile meeting requests and group scheduling. OK it had to use dial-up internet to send the messages, but I'm sure that it did it.

      (That was back when Nokia made cracking hardware and had decent software to back it up, and still with a reasonable battery life, especially considering that it was a 486 in a telephone)

  13. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    What's Android? It's Linux.

    Microsoft still needs and still intends to destroy Linux as a rival computing system.

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: What's Android? It's Linux.

      Think about it for a second... Why destroy something which can make you $15 per sale, cost you $0 to produce, and $0 to support... Money for nothing.

      1. Vic

        Re: What's Android? It's Linux.

        > Why destroy something which can make you $15 per sale

        Because they have to.

        At present, the vast majority of computer users believe they *need* Microsoft products.

        If Android takes off in the way it looks like it will, that belief will rapidly evaporate; users will become used to using an OS that is not Windows, and might well prefer it.

        There goes one of Microsoft's big cash cows: Windows. That's a big chunk of revenue gone.

        But it gets worse. If people start using non-Windows OSes on the desktop, what will MS do with Office? Port it to Linux?

        If they don't, people will stop using Office. That's Microsoft's other big cash cow gone.

        Allowing Linux to survive means a huge drop in revenue for Microsoft - and might even lead to a terminal decline. Microsoft has to kill Linux to survive. And at the moment, that means killing Android.


        1. Just Thinking

          And use what instead?

          "If they don't, people will stop using Office."

          What will people use instead of Office? OpenOffice? They would need to debug it first.

          I use several excellent open source products, OOo isn't one of them.

          Most of the software I use daily would run on Linux. Office is the main reason I use Windows.

          1. Vic

            Re: And use what instead?

            > They would need to debug it first.

            I use LibreOffice on a daily basis.

            I find fewer unexpected "features" than I do with MS-Office...

            Nevertheless - once OOo/LO get more traction, the swing would happen very quickly indeed.


  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Win Win Win?

    Don’t know how Micro$oft’s racket is a win for the victims, but it could be another win for Apple.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    If I was samsung.....

    .....I'd drop the windows 7 phones, say they are under-performing and not selling against the 'superior' android os.

    This means not paying a windows mobile 7 tax (which I suspect is more than the $15 android is 'costing'). Play the long game, make sure they aren't in the mobile business, only their stupid $15 'royalty' which I suspect is for FAT32 support or some such shite. Keep em out, make bing cost even more and be even less relevant and the relatively small amount of money they will make from royalties will do their business long term damage. (yes, it will probably take 10 years or so, but it will happen).

    IMHO microsoft stopped innovating about 8-10 years ago. They are constantly playing catch up. SQL server is no match for a proper database, office is a bag of shit (ribbon bar, whats that about?) and the only reason it survives is dubious tactics used to kill the competitors, sharepoint, I don't even understand why anybody would want that in their estate, its not brilliant its shit, slow and overpriced. They know their days are numbered, so it looks like they may as well change their name to MicroTroll and be done with it.

    Rant (nearly) over, I don't mind people who invent something, but I'm very against software patents. Its just killing everybody (except the lawyers). For example, having the idea that using two fingers on a touchpad to do something shouldn't be patentable, designing and manufacturing a device capable of multi-point detection should be.

    Right, I'm off to a darkened room for a lie down and some deep breathing........

    1. Phantom Wibbler

      Just what...

      I was thinking as I read the article. The first thing I'd do is drop WP7. If HTC and LG drop their WP7 handsets too that leaves MIcrosoft depending on Nokia, and no handsets until Nokia eventually deliver their first. See how Microsoft like them apples!!

  16. Johnny Canuck
    Thumb Down

    This is not a title

    I for one, want to know which patents are being infringed. Microsoft has been saying this for years but have not offered one shred of proof. If I recall, they also strong-armed Novell with this tactic. I think they also claimed that ALL Linux distros infringe on their patents. I simply don't believe it - they're just hoping the cost of litigation will intimidate companies into compliance.

  17. gerryg

    research into costs of litigation

  18. Mark 65 Silver badge


    So I can either buy a tablet from Jobs (and feed his ego) or buy an Android one and, er, feed fucking Microsoft.

    I have a better idea. These patents only apply in the US so tell MS to run along and go fuck themselves. That way we can buy devices without paying these trolling arseholes.

    1. Thomas Wolf

      you wish - non US customers pay for patents too

      The problem is that most companies producing & selling electronics are multi-national corporations who have to follow US law. So they have to pay MicroF%ck the patent fees - and simply charge all their customers - including the ones not in the US - a bit extra to make up for it.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        There is a solution

        The solution for Android is Symbian! Oh but wait, there's an M$-rat/mole/whatever-animal in that company.

        We're fucked.


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