...not take these bullies to court and finally decide on the validity of these so called patents?
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 $15 for each device Samsung ships loaded with Google's Android smart-phone operating system. Samsung is reported to be trying to …
Quote from Article: "Microsoft will be hoping it can influence the courts in the Barnes & Nobel and Motorola cases – and in any future cases – by saying: if you don't believe us on Android violating our patents, just look at all those who accepted we were right and agreed to pay up."
One would hope any judge would know that most companies just fold cause they can't afford to fight the bastards...
The whole concept behind patents is, of course, anti-competitive. That's why the U.S. founding fathers thought the time span should be very limited.
I think an electronics patent should have half the duration of any mechanical engineering patent, and a software patent should only be a quarter of the duration, so humans everywhere can avoid being held back by a few greedy corporations who would ride a patent till 2050, and not make a single improvement, if they can keep others out of the market by patent power.
Of course, Apple is worse than M$... cause they just sue to shut down competitors, they won't even license anything. (unless they got forced into a cross-licensing deal)
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.
<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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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...
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 $15 siphoned off to someone who hasn't done a thing to deserve the money (despite what the vague claims on their tickets say).
And when Samsung happens to be a partner of Microsoft as well as a competitor, at what point will legislators have the wit to realise that patents are just another tool for companies like Microsoft to compromise the independence of other businesses and generally interfere with the market in ways that play out just like Microsoft's illegal market interference of the past?
what you will find is Microsoft repeatedly tried to force signing an NDA and repeatedly hammered the B&N people on having an NDA and even pulled out an old NDA signed for a different project and tried to use it. Microsoft is using thuggery and threats to get people to sign NDA's and therefore keeping all the discussions private and out of the public ear.
the B&N lawyers are the first bunch of lawyers I've seen in the tech industry who seem to know what is going on and are telling Microsoft to go "eF" themselves with all the threats.
Buy a Nook or Nook Color people and help support a company willing to fight this patent thuggery currently going on.
M$ 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...
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).
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.
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).
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.
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: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ext2fsx/ 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.
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)
> 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.
"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.
.....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........
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.
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.
I just hope that someone in the far east makes an Android device for non-US countries and ignores MS. The $15 saving is, in reality, several % of what one of these devices should cost.
The only problem is MS just agreed something with the Chinese that probably means it would be impossible for the development to take place there...
It does make you wonder if the maths actually work. Does it cost more to give $15 dollars of the profit the on everything sold anywhere or give up the US market and keep all the profit on the rest of the world. If as people suggest margins are thin perhaps only 10% then that $15 is half the profit for a portion of much less than half of the world market. It looks it's like a close run thing whether or not to both with high-tech the US at all..
That $15 winds up being tossed into the new 30 month contract. Coming soon to a wireless carrier near you.
The question I'd want answered is; will this protection money buy them some defense against Apple? That could paint a much rosier picture for Samsung if they had MS sitting with them at the table.
These contracts are fatal in the longer term. These companies are completely at the mercy of continuations of patent licenses from a company that sees granting those continuations to be a threat to its existence. They've conceded the necessity of the patents by licensing them in the first instance. They are subject to be re-dunned incessantly as Microsoft buys more patents, and the Nortel patent purchase almost certainly isn't covered as it isn't even closed yet. Microsoft's Brad Smith was laughing about that when he gave this victory tweet on the Wistron deal: https://twitter.com/#!/BradSmi/status/88239362524971008 These guys are so much in awe of their brilliance they can't shut up. The pi reference is to Google's bid on the Nortel patents.
No doubt these "partnership" agreements include enough access (the wedge) to exploit the new patents Microsoft acquires over time, even for products in preproduction.
When these companies don't get their continuations because Microsoft doesn't want to give them or don't re-up because they can't afford to be extorted to death, the courts will be swift and harsh. Even if they do re-up, it will be under concessions where they make their Android products abhorrent (Bing integration, IE for Android, Silverlight, MS Android App store or some other such nonsense) because if Microsoft can't make Android go away, they can at least make it bad. Whether they get their licenses is utterly dependant on Microsoft, and Microsoft sorts their generosity by "what can you do for me?" That's not a good long-term path when you're competing against others not so encumbered.
These poor souls have signed a Faustian bargain and cannot win in the long term, though they've avoided some short-term costs in order to enter the lucrative Android market without the immediate prospect of an IP lawsuit. They've traded their souls for a brief period of prosperity, as is often the Devil's deal.
Because they are foolish enough to not see that, they've got rot at the top and are an easy short in the longer (~2 year) term. Some of them may even have influential investors who pushed this deal against the average shareholders' best interest. If you dance with the devil, you WILL pay his fee. I like "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" as much as the next guy, but generally speaking Johnny doesn't win the fiddle made of gold.
Personal note - editorial problem with the fine article: "Microsoft has been _forced_ to take Motorola, the world's eighth-largest phone maker, to court over nine alleged patent infringements in Android on Motorola's Android smart phones." (emphasis mine) "Forced" may be the wrong term here. "Obliged" may be more appropriate. AFAIK, lawyers don't march their complainant clients into court at gunpoint.
Patents do expire, and presumably HTC and others intend to still be in the business of selling mobile devices 10 or more years from now.
Licensing buys you some breathing space giving you a chance to either find a different non-patent way of doing something, for the patent to expire or for circumstances to change.
Enter a legal battle and the only surety is that for the next couple of years you will spending money and effort on lawyers that could be used for development and marketing of products.
At the end of the battle, they could still find they have to pay licence fees or that they have expended the same amount of cash as they would have paid for the licensing and now the patent is free for their competitors to take advantage of as well.
I'll keep it short.
These licensees: HTC, Velocity Micro, Okyo Corp and Wistron. They have marked themselves as targets for every patent troll on Earth. They have announced that they prefer publicly embarassing patent licensing to prolonged court battles. They will may as well set up a legal office in East Texas now, because the ticks are hungry and the dinner bell is rung. They'll need a sizeable office space for this, as the ticks aren't just hungry: they're plentiful.
HTC is the only sizeable member of this group in terms of market share, and I wouldn't worry about them. No doubt they will shortly retire from US marketing and escape these issues - after spinning off a US extrepeneurial venture that doesn't have these issues and is fiercely competitive. The rest of them are small fry in the US markets these patents apply to and almost nobody here ever heard from recently. What will HTC call it? HPC? HGC? H3C? HTCA? Some or all of those are taken. It doesn't matter as long as they structure the corporate responsibility like Sony does - with plausible deniability, at least legally.
Presumably the deals MS has struck with the various manufacturers mention the specific patents. And presumably those manufacturers have contacted Google about it, and not got an answer that the MS claims are without foundation and to fight them.
Much as we can debate the shortcomings of the patent system as a whole, it seems that Google has a rather cavalier approach to others IP (see the java case) and does not stand behind the products it puts out. It has more than enough money and clout to bat away claims without merit, and to indemnify any manufacturer shipping Android.
But it does not, and presumably it has not done so privately to aid those manufacturers MS is following for patent deals either.
You might not know the details of the patents yourself, but that's irrelevant. You can huff and puff about it, but it's the manufacturers who MS is targeting and most seem to be settling rather than fighting - and Google is doing nothing to help.
Most of the claims here are based on stupid ISO standarized vFAT allocation on SDCard.
As the android kernel is Linux, why can't we move to something else ?
Say ext3/4 or RaiserFS or something else ??
Only problem I see is when you'll mount the drive after connecting mobile device to PC.
That problem can be solved by EVERY handset manufacturer by providing driver software to read ext3/4 in Windows system .
A simple update from google and every manufacturer will suffice.
Adding to Babai's suggestion...
Thinking about the Windows users who dislike installing alternative file system support to every Windows PC that they use to access the Android system, I am wondering if Google and the manufacturers could device a way for those customers to pay the 15USD license fee directly to Microsoft and enable FAT support in the Android device. The technicalities should be solved in technical, legal and business level. I like to fantasize that the end users could directly make the choice by themselves, in the process be reminded whom they are siding with their technology choices, instead of less sophisticated users left thinking "Android is so difficult".
Additional benefit is that the 15USD will not be shown as more than 15USD, because of added taxes and other fees that are added on top of the license fee.
(On the other end, Apple [I have heard] requires people to access their phones using iTunes software, so we have a precedence that we do not necessarily need FAT support to have the users accept the device).
Google released android code in 'open source' form. This allow anybody to use Android without signing any piece of paper with Google. Google has therefore no responsibility with regards to Android code. You're alone.
When a company license a software, such as a mobile platform, there is a contract coming with and the responsibility and liability are detailed in. You pay and the licensor will protect you from litigation. This is why this kind of story didn't appears with the Symbian, S60, Windows Phone, Palm OS and others.
Android is definitely no free anymore.
Not that it matters, as they are so big, they can buy themselves out of any legal problems.. But it seems like they are using their dominance in one sector (Windows) to try and scew companies that operate in that sector and the mobile sector..
In other words Microsoft know that Samsung need to be a Windows OEM licencee, and there they know Samsung can't afford to piss Microsoft off, so basically Microsoft can charge what they want for undisclosed patent protection rackets.
I'm sure the Microsoft shills will be out in force to defect Microsoft, as soon as Amoreica wakes up...
"...not take these bullies to court and finally decide on the validity of these so called patents?"
The problem is IF / WHEN they lose they will end up with a huge heap of costs, damages (likely to be significantly greater than the royalty payment) and having to pay future royalties (probably at a higher rate) if Microsoft even chose to let them - they could probably insist they stop selling the infringing device!
"Do MS not realise that pissing off customers and potential customers really doesn't help their image?"
Doh! So I guess MS should just let anyone copy their software / patents?
Clearly they have a case as manufacturers are paying up - either that or they don't want to fight it out / don't fancy their chances of winning.
To have windows recognizing ext2 and ext3 anyone can use this http://www.fs-driver.org/index.html . But I suspect that fat/vfat/ntfs are involved and here we go again with the patents stuff...or imagine if the hardware were sold without software, just with a boot loader, like any pc? Anyone who wanted android only have to do was download the firmwares like "Connect your device to wifi"...Of course wp7 wouldn't be supported and if installed the user would void the warranty :-)
First of all, we should find out what are patents that MS is asking royalties for.
Secondly, Oracle sued directly Google for said patent infringements in Android and not the handset manufacturers that were shipping products based on this OS. What is the difference with the MS case?
It appears to me that MS is gradually approaching all handset/tablet manufacturers that ship products based on Android. This is a divide and conquer strategy. If there is an actual case in favor of MS then there is little to be done by the other companies. However, if it is disputable, then all other companies should try to work together and have the related patents invalidated. That means that the trial cost and risk is significantly lowered.
To be honest though, MS plays its cards smartly on this one, because it went first for the small fishes and built a case and an argument through their licensing.
Another thing that should be mentioned, is whether MS is using its Windows hegemony to threaten companies like Samsung. Being a convicted monopolist that should be a trench knife. If I remember correctly MS has been convicted in both US and Korea.
The point to take home is that building a patent portfolio is no more protecting your idea and making (legitimate) profit for it. Building a patent portfolio is primarily a defense mechanism against cases like this one or so many others.
At least Motorola have made a stance against M$ and their patent trolling, and With Motorola claiming several M$ software products infringe on its patents.
Motorola has been in the telecomms business for a lot longer than M$ has so it really do hope that Windows mobile infringes some Motorola patents and they get a taste of their own medicine.
As its been mention before if the patents relate to Vfat why dont the handset manufactures just make the handsets use the UDF file system as this has been supported in Windows since XP so its going to be a very small amount of PCs that wouldn't recognise the handsets.
It does smack of a bit of M
I think my next phone with be a Motorola so i know none of my pennies are going to M$ for sitting around on there arse and patent trolling.
Patents are just another means to form business partnerships. People should stop complaining about them. These things don't affect consumers in real terms. $15 more on a premium smartphone when the retail price is already $500+ , no big deal, shop around and you'll find a discount of $20 I'm sure from another retailer.
Pretending what you say is has any sense (it seems you just want to provoke people), I think we need to have more than $20 discount to cover the extortion fee.
When the device crosses the country borders, there will we some toll fee added (not sure what it is exactly called - I am not native English speaker). The shops and everybody before them need to add certain percentage to the price to cover their costs and add profit. Then we have in most places something like VAT. All this will be added to the top of the added price that manufacturer need to ask for their device. These additions are relative to the price that the original manufacturer gets.
Even if the manufacturer throws some of the profit away, and not add the full $15 to the price they get per device, it seems the price that customers need to pay to get the product is significantly more than the $15 extorted by the patent troll.
"> Why destroy something which can make you $15 per sale
Because they have to.
At present, the vast majority of computer users believe they *need* Microsoft products."
However much this might be the Ballmer view, Microsoft needs to be pragmatic. They have very little influence in the mobile device market at all and the Nokia deal is a huge risk for them. Microsoft as the dominant force in computing has been in decline for years, and they need to come to terms with the fact that their competitors are starting to overpower them in various markets. Devoting resources to killing Android, as such, is a waste of time - WP7 is stillborn while Android is becoming the norm worldwide. They may as well get something out of this situation.
Can we protest this by:
1. Asking why the Feds aren't prosecuting MS for racketeering
(extortion)? What is the legal distinction between MS's behavior
and organized crime's protection rackets?
2. Can we start a criminal action against MS as individuals that
would cost MS at least 15$? Can I claim damages of 15$ for
every phone I buy that runs Android assuming that HTC is
already paying the extortion?
Are there any other ways that would cost MS money legally?
How about support calls whenever we have Windows problems?
How can we raise MS expenses by 15$ per Android phone?
In order to sit on Microsoft's side of the table and negotiate these deals that destroy utterly the negotiating partner you have to know that you are a demon - and they do. They revel in it. They aspire to find innovative ways to find companies to seal their own doom, so as to increase their value to their dire lord. They are well compensated with mortal comforts while they do their work. They care not how they impede progress for you and I, nor how many they put out of work. It's all about winning.
But in the end there is balance whether they like it or not, as Matt Ammon found. http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Operator-in-crane-wreck-has-history-of-drug-abuse-1220193.php You reap what you sow.
The act itself cheapens them. It makes them less human. They should not do it. It's not OK to take unfair advantage of people. If they do it, they will pay one way or another.
If you're sitting at the table with these folk you need to know that if they could harness your immortal soul to power their Beemer they would consider that found money, and ask for the souls of your offspring too so they could get better performance. You're not going to get the better of them. You might think you did for a while, but then the evil terms work their way, and like Novell, they own everything of yours they coveted. They really are the devil, and deals with the devil never pay out in the long term.
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