back to article Foxconn must pay Microsoft for EVERY Android thing it makes

Microsoft will collect a royalty for every device built by Foxconn that runs Google operating systems Android or Chrome OS. Hon Hai, the parent of the Chinese electronics behemoth, confirmed today it has inked a deal to license unspecified Microsoft patents on smartphones, tablets and TVs built by Foxconn that use Google's …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mmmmmm...

    I love the smell of royalties in the morning. It smells like victory.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mmmmmm...

      But charging the people that make your current (and future?) Xbox, is that a good idea?

      I wonder where the money will come from to pay M$?

      1. Stuart Castle

        Re: Mmmmmm...

        Well, for one thing, I doubt Foxconn manufacture these phones and then give them to the company that ordered them for free, so I suspect the money will come from Samsung, LG, HTC etc..

      2. Turtle

        Re: Mmmmmm...

        "But charging the people that make your current (and future?) Xbox, is that a good idea?"

        Here's what would be funny: If Samsung started price-gouging both Apple and Microsoft, and they both took their business to a different manufacturer, who would be guaranteed enough business that this new manufacturer would undertake a massive expansion in order to meet Apple's and Microsoft's requirements - thereby netting Samsung both reduced income and a serious new competitor!

      3. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: Mmmmmm...

        Presumably Microsoft's thinking is that now they can go to all the people that don't make the current or future Xbox and say 'Foxconn are paying and they've got enough money for really good lawyers; why don't you just pay up and save us all some hassle?'

        Even supposing Microsofts ends up paying its own royalties via Foxconn, that's a good piece of leverage over everybody else to have acquired for free.

    2. Bob Vistakin
      Devil

      Re: Mmmmmm...

      This is exactly why it's just not possible to kick microsoft enough.

      Its not enough that no-one wants their comedy new desktop OS - kick em now whilst they are down.

      Its not enough that they can't shift as many of their pathetic phones in a quarter as Android activates in a day - kick em again even when they stop moving.

      And its certainly not enough no-one even realises they have a tablet out - it's impact has been that minimal the needle didn't budge. Just read this story, and kick 'em again. And again.

      And again - we don't want any chance of them coming back.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Mmmmmm...

        Cut the head off the corpse and fill the mouth with holy wafers, then drive a stake through the heart and pickle in holy water. When finished, burn and sprinkle the ashes over seawater on a bright sunny morning.

        And yet, it will STILL come back, somehow.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "And yet, it will STILL come back, somehow."

          Like a huge curled up Fergusen in the bowl which just won't flush away no matter how many times you try.

    3. Mips
      Childcatcher

      Re: Mmmmmm...

      In the beginning was the void.

      MS looked upon the void and said let there be light and there was light.

      And MS separated the light from the darkness and behold it was good.

      Then M$ said every thing you see belongs to me.

      Here endeth the lesson.

  2. ratfox Silver badge
    Devil

    …And we still have no idea what these patents are

    Great business model!

    1. Chika

      Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

      I would imagine that Foxconn, at least, knows. I'd be very suspicious of any deal of this kind that was woolly enough not to specifically define which items are actually being licensed!

      1. Neil McAllister

        Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

        Rumor has it that all of these deals Microsoft has signed with device vendors involve patents on the FAT filesystem and later derivatives.

        Presumably, Microsoft is not releasing this information because it wants the idea out there in the public consciousness that "Microsoft invented the technologies that Android uses." Also, by keeping the terms of its deal with one company vague, it can presumably negotiate a more favorable deal with the next company it goes after.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

          @Neil McAllister

          What everyone else should do is just use a different file-system and let Microsoft keep FAT. When Windows users need to install a driver, so be it. What everyone else should do, create a new file-system and let any "partner" use it for free and non-partners can license it. Then they never ever let Microsoft become a partner so that they will need to license it. It is time to trim the FAT.

          1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

            Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

            @AC Yes but they want their devices to work straight away, i.e plugin to a PC, MAC, Linux machine and have a readily available disc.

            There are already plenty of other file systems about, I suppose the problem is trying to get OS's not designed for it to behave.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

            Have you tried to NOT use FAT on an android device (especially Samsung)?

            Seriously, the devices actively resist using ext4 or f2fs-formatted storage.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

      Odd that Android devices would violate the patents but iOS doesn't.

      I wonder if MSFT is demanding a royalty for every ipod/pad/phone Foxconn make

      1. Volker Hett

        Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

        Apple and MS have a Patent deal of some sort.

    3. chekri
      Windows

      Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

      The asserted patents are known and are referenced here: http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=2011111122291296 refer exhibit D

      IMHO the patents would not withstand a legal challenge, perhaps a good reason why MS have tried to keep specific details away from the public where it would face broader analysis and discussion.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

        > IMHO the patents would not withstand a legal challenge, perhaps a good reason why MS have tried to keep specific details away from the public where it would face broader analysis and discussion.

        Even more likely, "You sign a patent license deal and we will sweeten the xbox contract."

        The aim is to to set precedents.for licensing and to keep alive the illusion of risk associated with android.

    4. JDX Gold badge

      Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

      It's not really your business what patents they are is it?

      1. sabroni Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: It's not really your business what patents they are is it?

        I do hope that's irony. Just in case, the problem is that it's difficult to avoid infringing patents if you don't know what they are.

        Otherwise nice one, very droll!

      2. pete 22

        @ JDXRe: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

        "

        Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

        It's not really your business what patents they are is it?"

        It damn well is my business if you're expecting me to pay anything for them.

      3. pete 22

        Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

        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.

    5. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

      You could be violating those patents right now!

      1. Stevie Silver badge

        Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

        I think the word you were looking for was "infringing".

        1. Lusty Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

          @Stevie you owe me a new keyboard! I suspect more than a few fandroids would like to violate a patent if only they could catch one :)

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        WTF?

        Re: …And we still have no idea what these patents are

        "You could be violating those patents right now!"

        "We are Microsoft. All you software belong to us."

        As Machiavelli said "Let them that hate also fear me."

  3. jason 7
    Meh

    So they are paying to use legitimate patents?

    Do Foxconn have to pay other companies not directly related to Android OS for their patents/Tech also?

    I'm sure they do so where is the issue here?

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Triple Microsoft tax bingo

    So that's a tax on the manufacturer (Foxconn), and a tax on their end client (e.g. Acer), and finally a tax on Google. Proof that MS are at their most innovative when they've got real competition.

    Oh, and they also do Windows Phone.

    1. tony72

      Re: Triple Microsoft tax bingo

      Actually no, at least not according to other coverage of this issue. The same patents will only be licensed once for each device. If both FoxConn and its client have signed a licensing deal with Microsoft, it is up to them to decide who pays, but Microsoft only gets paid once.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Triple Microsoft tax bingo

      Ok, it's royalties, Google knew when they purchased Android that it had seriously questionable IP, if agree with the system or not, they still knew what they were getting into. They then chose to give away the OS for free, so MS are rightly claiming royalties for the technologies they developed. In fact they are required to recoup royalties by law, because they would loose the IP if they didn't and they're required to make maximum profit for their shareholders.

      That no credible company has tried to take them to court suggests that they have something valid. I'd like to know what it is, you'd like to know what, but actually they don't have to tell us, we could go through all the patents assigned to MS, but frankly, I can't be arsed.

      1. Bakunin
        Devil

        Re: Triple Microsoft tax bingo

        Where to start.

        > ... it had seriously questionable IP

        Does it? What IP would you be referring to? Or does your NDA stop you discussing it?

        > ... MS are rightly claiming royalties for the technologies they developed

        Really? Like to tell us all what this technology is?

        > ... That no credible company has tried to take them to court suggests that they have something valid.

        No it doesn't. It suggests it's cheaper and less painful to give in.

        > ... , but actually they don't have to tell us,

        And there is the crux of the problem. I notice they're still not going after the source of the "infringement".

        > ... frankly, I can't be arsed.

        That much was evident.

        1. Turtle

          Re: Triple Microsoft tax bingo

          "> ... it had seriously questionable IP

          Does it? What IP would you be referring to? Or does your NDA stop you discussing it?"

          The fact that there have been 19 publicly-announced royalty-bearing agreements between Android handset manufacturers and Microsoft (and other IP holders) to this point should be very obvious proof that Android has extremely serious IP issues.

          "> ... MS are rightly claiming royalties for the technologies they developed

          Really? Like to tell us all what this technology is?"

          Why do you need to know? That the lawyers for the Andriod handset manufacturers know, is all that really matters.

          "> ... That no credible company has tried to take them to court suggests that they have something valid.

          No it doesn't. It suggests it's cheaper and less painful to give in."

          Have you got ANY evidence to back that up? Like, let's say, the cost of mounting a defense and the amount of money that any of these Android handset manufacturers can be expected to pay in royalties under the terms of these agreements? Also, there are at least some jurisdictions where the loser has to pay the winner's legal fees.

          "> ... , but actually they don't have to tell us,

          And there is the crux of the problem. I notice they're still not going after the source of the "infringement"."

          You seem to mistake, "I want to know" for "they have a legal obligation to let me know"

          And as for "not going after the source of the infringement", if this is how their lawyers have decided to do it, then that's how they decided to do it.

          And notice that Google is not exactly rushing to intervene in these lawsuits on the Android handset manufacturers' behalf, and they haven't exactly offered to indemnify them against any judgements or awards, or even (as far as I know) to help pay their legal costs.

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: Triple Microsoft tax bingo

            > very obvious proof that Android has extremely serious IP issues.

            No, it s obvious proof that the US has serious Patent Office problems. The PO will pas just about any application because that way they get to collect the fees and not have to worry about any consequence.

            The result is lots of lawyers making lots of money while businesses and courts, and ultimately consumers and taxpayers, pay the costs.

            If a patent is put up for review then the PO collects another set of fees. This is inspite of prior art or the patent just being an 'idea'.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Triple Microsoft tax bingo

            "The fact that there have been 19 publicly-announced royalty-bearing agreements between Android handset manufacturers and Microsoft (and other IP holders) to this point should be very obvious proof that Android has extremely serious IP issues."

            No, it's just proof that it's cheaper to pay Microsoft to go away than to spend years in court getting questionable patents invalidated (and the one does not prevent the latter. There have been several cases where royalties paid on patents have been clawed back when the patents were invalidated - a thought which must have MS shitting housebricks)

            The fact that MS turned tail when B&N not only stood up to them, but published the list of alleged patents says more about their true view of those patents than any agreements entered into (and now those patents are in the open, it's easier to pick them apart)

            Court cases of this kind are mostly about who has deeper pockets and greater determination. The usual pattern is to shake down the smaller players first, then to use the monies gained to finance going after bigger fish - which works until the fish in question turns out to have a formidable set of offences and defences as well as a serious toxin load.

            Note well that MS are not going directly after Google - if they did that the game would be up very quickly.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Triple Microsoft tax bingo

        "That no credible company has tried to take them to court "

        Either you are trolling or just oblivious to the fact that Barnes and Noble took them to court and looked in a very strong position. No one knows the results of the deal but many with a little bit of knowledge (that excludes from maybe Information Week) feel like Microsoft backed down and essentially gave a barter deal to Barnes and Noble that they couldn't refuse.

        The fact that Microsoft didn't decide to take it through to trial and get their bumper payday including possibly triple damages shows that they have reservations about their IP if it was to come under judicial scrutiny. However the snippets release from the case show that there is nothing credible and they are trying something close to extortion.

        If it was genuine IP they wouldn't be doing hush-hush deals, with restrictions discussing anything about what patents they are asserting and going after defendants on a company-by-company basis.

        If they really believed they had proper IP that needed to be protected why not do a public lciensing program that is fully transparent and request payments from everyone at one - oh because the last company that tried that (although still not transparent) was SCO. Look where that got them.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Triple Microsoft tax bingo

        "hey are required to recoup royalties by law, because they would loose the IP"

        You are mixing up patents with copyright and even then you only have to issue a ceasing order.

        1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: Triple Microsoft tax bingo

          > You are mixing up patents with copyright

          No, he is mixing up patents with trademarks. If you don't protect a trademark you could lose it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Triple Microsoft tax bingo

            You can also lose a patent if you allow people to use your technology and make no attempt to defend the patent or issue C&D letters. If I recall correctly this happened to the people who initially made the 3.5" FDD, matsushita was it? I can't remember...

        2. itzman

          Re: Triple Microsoft tax bingo

          ..and you cant spell LOSE

      4. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Triple Microsoft tax bingo

        > That no credible company has tried to take them to court suggests that they have something valid.

        Microsoft tried to shake down B&N for royalties on these patents. B&N refused to sign the NDA and then published to alleged patents. Instead of going to court over this MS paid $300million for an alleged 'partnership'.

        One conclusion is that MS did not want to go to court and lose the patents.

    3. Lusty Silver badge

      Re: Triple Microsoft tax bingo

      Well IBM are charging for the Fab equipment, the chip tech, the storage tech, the OS tech, the communications tech, the screen tech etc. etc. so why shouldn't MS get money for their troubles as well?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Not paying for patents

    If the patents were any good Microsoft would publish them; what they've done is blackmail Foxconn by threatening to tie them up for years in litigation for years.

    This is a classic example of how these mediaeval instruments work to stifle innovation - companies that are small simply can't fight the court cases while the big established companies just write a cheque rather than challenge the ludicrous claims (Microsoft invented something? Don't make me laugh).

    Just fucking scrap patents already.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not paying for patents

      The patents are all a matter of public record, it's just that we don't know which ones specifically are being claimed on here.

      Scrapping patents would be the worst move a modern society could make - software patents maybe, but general patents are required for business and development. Why would I spend a ton of money developing a gizmo that anyone could copy and make themselves?

      1. Philip Hands

        Re: Not paying for patents

        > Scrapping patents would be the worst move a modern society could make

        Nonsense -- The fashion industry has effectively no protection for its designs, other than trademark, and yet it exists, and innovates strongly, and turns over vast amounts more than most of the sectors with strong protection:

        http://www.ted.com/talks/johanna_blakley_lessons_from_fashion_s_free_culture.html

        1. ecofeco Silver badge

          Re: Not paying for patents

          Incorrect. The fashion industry DOES have legal recourse over designs and even mechanical patents.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not paying for patents

        True that. But perhaps scrapping the current system is a good idea.

        I bet there is one non-patent related to what Microsoft thinks could be an infringement in there and they sold the bundle for 1USD. Thereby making a mockery of the industry. Farkin MS. I was beginning to think that they were in their place and began to open up a bit to using their software. After stunts like this, I'll spit in your face if say the M word. Don't say it.

    2. Spoddyhalfwit

      Re: Not paying for patents

      Robert Long1

      "This is a classic example of how these mediaeval instruments work to stifle innovation - companies that are small simply can't fight the court cases while the big established companies just write a cheque rather than challenge the ludicrous claims (Microsoft invented something? Don't make me laugh)."

      I was under the impression that Google was a sizeable company with money in the bank. It could afford to fight these claims, but it hasn't. You can't blame Microsoft for that.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not paying for patents

        That I understand, Google never had to pay Microsoft a cent about these patents. Perhaps because they are known to fight back, hard.

        1. Steve Todd

          Re: Not paying for patents - @AC 12:22

          Google hasn't had to pay Microsoft because they haven't actually made devices that use them. Writing the software doesn't infringe the patents, putting it in a device and selling it does. That's why Apple have been suing Samsung et al not Google.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not paying for patents - @AC 12:22

            You know that Motorola brand...you know they are Google right?

            You know they make smartphones?

            1. Steve Todd

              Re: Not paying for patents - @AC 12:57

              You know that Apple sued Motorola (and vice versa) , and that Microsoft are suing them also? Motorola may be a division of Google, but legally speaking they are not the same company.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Not paying for patents - @AC 12:57

                "...but legally speaking they are not the same company"

                No one said they were the same company - Google owns Motorola. You seem confused.

                Motorola sued Apple first and Apple then sued Motorola, this litigation was pre-Google so it is still continuing along those lines.

                If Microsoft or another company chose to sue Motorola now then, Google would get the say in the next step.

                The point is you said Google don't make devices, they do and Microsoft hasn't sued Motorola yet.

                1. Steve Todd
                  FAIL

                  Re: Not paying for patents - @AC 16:54

                  You're still not getting it. Motorola is a limited liability company. That means that you can't sue Google for something that Motorola does, in the same way you can't sue shareholders for something a company does.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not paying for patents

      Just to point out that patents are not a product of the Medieval Ages, but of the Age of Enlightenment.

      Clearer now?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not paying for patents

        "Just to point out that patents are not a product of the Medieval Ages, but of the Age of Enlightenment."

        Not quite. Patent law, from the period you are referring to, is just a formalization of a system of government/monarch-granted monopolies dating back to at least the 1100's.

        1. Chris Fox

          Re: Not paying for patents

          Indeed, patents have existed as long as there have been monarchs. The reference to the "Age of Enlightment" would be the 1624 Statute of Monopolies, which sought to constrain the (ab)use of "Letters Patent", crown-granted monopolies that were supposed to benefit the economy, but were actually just used by the crown as a way of raising funds without consulting that pesky Parliament, including granting "patents" on salt, starch, and other de facto pseudo-taxes (with the crown receiving payment for the patent, and the patent holder receiving payment from those "benefitting" from, or "infringing", that which was patented). What we may thing of as contemporary concerns about the uses and abuses of patents are actually older than patent legislation itself. It seems that an update to the Statute of Monopolies is long overdue.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Not paying for patents

            "It seems that an update to the Statute of Monopolies is long overdue."

            IIRC One of the Kings James withdrew all patents because of widespread abuse, so there is precedent.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Not paying for patents

        Wikipedia disagrees, and offers (by Wikipedian standards) fairly good evidence. I suppose you can reasonably debate when the idea of a patent became a real "thing" independent of the whims of the monarch. One can certainly make the case that "Rule of Law" only became real in England after the Civil War, which doesn't pre-date the Englightenment by much. Still, the idea that it was in the state's interest to protect inventors, is certainly Medieval.

    4. Wilseus

      Re: Not paying for patents

      "If the patents were any good Microsoft would publish them; what they've done is blackmail Foxconn by threatening to tie them up for years in litigation for years."

      It seems to me that whether the particular patents in question are any good is moot. If MS were silly enough (or were forced to) disclose them it would be game over since someone at Google would simply remove the offending code from the Linux kernel.

  6. Schultz
    Stop

    So they tax Android slabs...

    but still don't manage to competitively price their own offerings. There is some fail hidden in there.

    1. Turtle

      Re: So they tax Android slabs...

      "So they tax Android slabs but still don't manage to competitively price their own offerings. There is some fail hidden in there."

      It's not hidden, but it's not relevant either.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Turtle - Re: So they tax Android slabs...

        Quite contrarily. As opposed to Apple who is suing Google because they have a good product to offer, Microsoft is suing each and any distributor of Android mobile devices hoping they will be convinced to stop producing them and wait for the day when Microsoft could come up with something decent.

        It is relevant and it is a fail.

        1. Turtle

          Re: @Turtle - So they tax Android slabs...

          "Microsoft is suing each and any distributor of Android mobile devices hoping they will be convinced to stop producing them and wait for the day when Microsoft could come up with something decent. It is relevant and it is a fail."

          Microsoft is suing companies to get them to stop producing handsets, and start producing NOTHING, until Microsoft gives them something decent to produce? Is Microsoft going to pay the salaries of the all the eimployees and make good the losses in stock prices and dividends to investors while the handset manufacturer is not making any money by sitting around not manufacturing handsets? Oh, maybe everyone will go on vacation until they get something from Microsoft, eh? Is Microsoft going to pay for those vacations too?

          You're quite mistaken. (And deluded, too, apparently.) Microsoft is very content to grant royalty-bearing licenses. Unless, of course, you can show me that Microsoft has been attempting to obtain and enforce exclusion orders on all Android handset makers. Or even *some* of them. I can't think of a single instance in which Microsoft somehow attempted to convince any Android handset maker to "stop producing them and wait for the day when Microsoft could come up with something decent."

          The idea that Microsoft would expect any handset manufacturer to stop manufacturing handsets until Microsoft came up with something decent is just... bizarre. Someone needs to, uh, learn you some economics. And maybe some business management and administration too.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MR EADON

    Paging MR EADON, that's MR EADON, you are required for a rant.

  8. Adair

    Lovely factory you have there, shame if...

    What gets me is the fact that MS won't come clean about what 'patents' are actually involved. As it stands this seems like nothing more than a good old protection racket. Utterly, utterly pathetic. Words fail me, and cynicism threatens to overwhelm me. Oh well, just another day in business then. <sigh>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lovely factory you have there, shame if...

      There are no patents. Usually Microsoft comes at your door and mentions some unspecified patents. If you want to see the list, it is in the court of justice that you will get to see it when they sue you. A lot of companies just don't want to take that risk. Don't take my word on this, just search and read about the lawsuit Microsoft has brought against Barnes & Noble. B&N managed brilliantly to bypass Microsoft NDA and threatened to show the world how this negotiation works. Microsoft really freaked out and settled it quickly before some of those court documents could get public. It is an interesting story that sheds light on these patent agreements.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Lovely factory you have there, shame if...

        The biggest patent trolls ARE the corporations.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Lovely factory you have there, shame if...

        And this worked so well for B&N that everyone else now uses that tactic when challenged by MS, right?

        Didn't think so.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    This should be interesting

    If Apple did this, there would be an almighty shit storm on the Reg forums; in the interests of non-biased treating all companies equally by their behaviour, I wait with interest to see the criticism directed at Microsoft.

    Except I suspect the apologists will be out in force.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This should be interesting

      Ah, the old "anyone who disagrees with me is an apologist" stance.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Flame

        Re: This should be interesting

        No actually it's the 'let's point out the hypocrisy' stance.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Fitz - Re: This should be interesting

      Not quite so. Both Apple and Microsoft are against Android and would like to see it dead but they have chosen a different tactic. Apple is mad that Samsung is eating their lunch and they decided to attack phone manufacturers using their patents aiming to just shut down manufacturing of Android phones but in this process they had to make their patents public and now many of them are falling like rotten apples and the PR consequences are pretty serious. Microsoft on the other other hand, is not in a hurry because they have missed the mobile computing revolution completely. Even at this moment it looks like they still don't really believe people would leave the Windows PC for a mobile device running anything but Windows. Microsoft is not that interested in preventing manufacturers from producing Android phones, at least not in the short term, so they would rather make sure they can control them and bring them back into obedience. Add to this that if they file lawsuits, they will have to make public their patents with disastrous consequences. You should search and read how Microsoft approached Barnes & Noble for patent licensing without even having decided on the list of patents being infringed.

    3. Dana W

      Re: This should be interesting

      The Microsoft fud merchants are strong in this one.

  10. Dazed & Confused
    Alert

    Eadon's late

    Maybe his Caps Lock key is playing up....

    1. Spoddyhalfwit

      Re: Eadon's late

      He's probably still at his telnet port 80 prompt, constructing his post.

    2. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      Re: Eadon's late

      Damn this is confusing

      1. C 18
        Coat

        Re: Eadon's late

        ...but is it 'brighter than white, or your money back'?!

  11. Himalayaman
    Holmes

    The fanboys are out it seems. Not a surprise ...

    Anyway... this looks more like a cross deal since Foxconn also owns quite a bit of patents.

  12. noboard
    Thumb Down

    Errm

    Do we actually know if these fee's are anything above 0? As public listed companies have to publish their account and you can't put "Super Secret payment shit that you're not allowed to know about", surely we'd have some idea of what the supposed fees are. Also Barns and Noble took them to court and got $300 million dollars from MS in an out of court settlement, for the price of setting up a new company to make windows devices. As the nook site is happily promoting the android devices, it doesn't seem like MS won that one.

    I can only think MS are saying "Agree to say you're paying us a fee and we'll not sure you", so they can try and make their patent claims sound valid.

    1. Don Jefe
      Happy

      Re: Errm

      As public companies they only have to list them under license royalties/payments (depending on if you're paying or receiving). They are not required to drill down to specific payments/revenue sources: "Super Secret Payment Shit" isn't secret, it just doesn't have to be disclosed.

    2. Steve Todd
      Stop

      Re: Errm

      They won't start to appear in the accounts until next quarter's statement, and can be lumped together with all other patent/licensing costs so no, we probably won't get to find out how much they are (though we may be able to take an educated guess when we see said statement).

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Barnes and Noble

      B&N are a US company with (presumably) excellent US legal advice. Based on that advice and the knowledge that they wouldn't be seen as the foreigner trying to stick it to a decent American company, they chose to call Microsoft bluff.

      A Korean, Japanese or Chinese company, with less experience of the US system and a nagging suspicion (see Apple versus Samsung) that the court wasn't completely unbiased, might reasonably look at exactly the same legal case and decide that *they* would be better off settling out of court.

      1. Bernardo Sviso

        Re: Re: Barnes and Noble

        Korean? Japanese? Or Chinese?

        Make that Canadian, even.

    4. Lars Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Errm

      Some hove there must be some logic to this. Fighting about patents is a very expensive thing to do but suppose those patents Microsoft claim to have are in fact stone dead in a few years anyway. Perhaps there is some simple mathematics to this after all.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The patents are probably flimsy Apple style 'innovations'. Can we just stop with any and all UI patenting right now? It's mostly absurd, flimsy drivel used by failing companies to bleed their more innovative competitors dry.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If that were the case, do you not think that there would have been a court case by now? I mean: Samsung are paying these royalties and they're not too wary of a massive legal fight.

    2. FutureShock999

      Innovative?

      I hate patent trolls, but to say that patenting a UI that your company has developed, and then defending that innovation via the patent law system is "hurting innovating companies" is just weird. If the targeted company was so bloody innovative, then why would it have to look just like the UI (or elements of such) that my company developed?

      There are any number of very, very good UIs that can be developed by properly good UI developers. They don't have to look or feel anything like the same. So...if a company happens to develop one that just happens to mirror aspects of mine - barring elementary things like "rectangular boxes of text" etc - then it's hard to say they are innovating.

      Of course, there IS that slight problem that really, really good UI development is very expensive, and takes talent sets and artistic skills that most pure technology companies frankly do not incorporate well....

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Innovative?

        Is this the details of the lawsuit?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Innovative?

        "I hate patent trolls, but to say that patenting a UI that your company has developed, and then defending that innovation via the patent law system is "hurting innovating companies" is just weird. "

        One symbol: © (I'm hoping El'Reg supports unicode chars)

        If someone blatently copies your work, you have copyright protection protecting your implementation - in the case of a UI - the look and code that makes it function. Patents prevent anyone using the same idea even if they came up with a similar functioning UI that looks different. That is, unless they pay up. That is how patents are hurting innovation.

        I direct you to http://www.google.com/patents/USD629412 - which is basically a patent for a transparent drop down menu - yes a standard menu bar with alpha blending. I'm not sure if that patent is still valid, I can't imagine that it is, but it's a perfect demonstration as to why these kinds of patents are retarded. Simply changing the alpha value in a CSS stylesheet would violate this patent.

  14. John Sanders
    FAIL

    Foxconn is not paying anything

    This is "for gallery's display" only, to bully other companies, or to keep competitors in line.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Foxconn is not paying anything

      I agree with you on this.

      I find it weird too that a Chinese company is so respectful with Intellectual Property of a US multinational so they go out of their way and sign up for a patent license. I don't know why but my feeling is that Foxconn doesn't pay a dime or they might even get some nice advantages from Microsoft for allowing the later to go bullying other companies with "look 50% of Android is covered by our patent license agreement".

  15. John G Imrie Silver badge

    Micosoft

    FOAD

    1. Wibble
      Windows

      Re: Micosoft FOAD

      They're doing their best to comply with your wish.

      The patent trolling shows just how low they can stoop.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fuck Off Microsoft

    Absurd patents used to bog down competition backed up by their friends on Capitol Hill and a shit broken US patent system.

    How did MS start ?

    It stole DOS from Gary Kildall and the rest is history.

    Disclaimer - I'm not Eadon, just someone pissed off with MS's anti competitive behaviour saddling us with high prices, slow technological development and cringe worthy adverts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fuck Off Microsoft

      My reading of the history was that MS bought DOS from Seattle Computer for $50,000 after they had told IBM they had a DOS in order to get the contract (then they went and bought DOS from Seattle Computer)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fuck Off Microsoft

        "My reading of the history was that MS bought DOS from Seattle Computer for $50,000 after they had told IBM they had a DOS in order to get the contract (then they went and bought DOS from Seattle Computer)"

        And Gates didn't know it was a rip-off clone ? Oh and by the way did you know Gates's mum Mary sat on the board of United Way along with John Opel the CEO of IBM at the time.

        Just because I have a receipt for a stolen car it doesn't mean it's legit.

        1. PhilBuk
          Thumb Down

          Re: Fuck Off Microsoft

          @Elron Cupboard

          Learn some fucking history before you start mouthing off. Both C/PM, QDOS and laater MSDOS were all command line "rip-offs" of various DEC minicomputer operating systems. The C/PM command line was a copy of DEC's RT-11 OS and the MSDOS command line (and later versions of C/PM) was a copy of DEC's DCL front end for RSX-11 and RSTS/E (and later RT-11).

          Guess what? Nobody really cared. The only people who seem to care are modern anti-MS bores who think that all this was significant!

          Phil.

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: Fuck Off Microsoft

            > "rip-offs" of various DEC minicomputer operating systems

            CP/M was all new code. The BDOS was written in Gary's PL/M language, many utilities were in 8080 assembler. No code was copied from DEC OS or utilities. There is a lot of similarity in the 'user interface' such as utility names, but you you really think that 'RENAME' is protectable IP ?

            It is alleged that the original QDOS was built from a decompiled and translated copy of CP/M. Both SCP and MS were CP/M OEMs and had all the source code that DRI would supply. In fact Gary Kildall was able to demonstrate to IBM that PC-DOS 1.0 could display a DRI copyright that had been hidden in the CP/M code.

            Even if QDOS had been all new code it copied the structure of CP/M, mimiced the internal working of CP/M, copied the 'API', and even exhibited an obscure bug in the handling of the FCBs on a file close.

            DRI was about to sue IBM (which would have ruined the IBM PC launch) and settled for undisclosed amounts but including that IBM would sell CP/M-86 for the IBM PC, and would rewrite MS/PC-DOS which they did and passed it back to MS.

            > The only people who seem to care are modern anti-MS bores who think that all this was significant!

            It seems to me that the 'people who seem to care' about 'ripping off' the UI, API, and direct copying of code are: Apple, Oracle, Microsoft and such. DEC sued MS (and got $100million or so) for NT.

      2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Fuck Off Microsoft

        > MS bought DOS from Seattle Computer

        Completely correct, it was SCP that stole from Gary.

        Both SCP and MS were CP/M OEMs. It was alleged that SCP disassembled CP/M BDOS using a widely available tool to do so and then used Intel's 8080-8086 translator to arrive at an initial QDOS that was needed to develop the company's 8086 based S100 board for their Zebra series when CP/M-86 was running late.

        (MS's FAT disk system was added later, the original QDOS used CP/M file system).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fuck Off Microsoft

          That QDOS was a rip off of CP/M is an urban myth, there is no forensic evidence to support this assertion and Gary / DR would have been able to sue were that the case. As far as I can tell he as a person and certainly DR would have had the funds to pursue such a case and contrary what is often mentioned in various internet sites, it was illegal to copy code at the time of the alleged incident.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fuck Off Microsoft

      "It stole DOS from Gary Kildall"

      It did no such thing, it legitimately purchased QDOS and associated royalties. There is nothing wrong with a company buying technology that they don't have but want to offer/develop. I speak as someone who has just had the company he works for purchased by a large IT multi-national.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Fuck Off Microsoft

      The GUI was invented by Xerox.

      Who did NOT license it to Apple or MS.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Fuck Off Microsoft

        > The GUI was invented by Xerox.

        > Who did NOT license it to Apple or MS.

        Apple paid heavily for a visit to PARC Labs and this included an implied licence for anything they saw. At the time there were no patents for 'look and feel' only copyright on the code (which Apple did not get nor steal).

        MS copied Apple and others.

      2. Dana W
        FAIL

        Re: Fuck Off Microsoft

        Apple paid for what they got from Xerox in stock. You KNOW that.

        If Xerox had kept the stock they had its value would still be astronomical.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    aC @ 12:13

    Samsung may not be bothered about a massive legal fight if it affects THEIR profits, but deals like this don't, any MS tax gets passed onto the consumer.

    If they were to go to court over this they can only lose out.

    1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      aC @ 12:21

      > Samsung may not be bothered about a massive legal fight

      Since M$ is desperate for Samsung to make Winphones, any move to extract $ from them on the Android side of the house would almost certainly result in twice that figure being demanded as inducement to smooth the winmobes through the factory.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd still love to see what these patents are

    Althoguh one thing I do find comical.

    by Microsoft’s campaign to force Linux, Android and Chrome OS device makers to license its patents.

    Linux, Android which is build on linux, and Chrome OS which is built on Lnux. So really the place the patent is being infringed is Linux. It's just that Android and Chrome OS are a few of the commercially sold Linux distros. You can't really claim royalties on something that's given away for free.

    I'd imagine it's either some kind of ancient algoythm burried deep in the kernel which can't be removed with ease, or it's to do with the filesystem (again)

    Probably perfectly valid patents, which were probably infringed without intention but infringed nonetheless. Sadly nothing that can really be done about it.

    And I imagine the reason Microsoft refuse to name the patent publically is because if they do, the 101 linux gurus will dive headfirst into the kernel code, find the infringing section and begin working on methods to bypass it, locking out microsofts cash cow.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'd still love to see what these patents are

      Or we might as well see there is no infringing code so the Linux devs will have better things to do.

      By the way, algorithms are still not patentable, not even in the US.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: I'd still love to see what these patents are

        "By the way, algorithms are still not patentable, not even in the US."

        Give it time. After all, life is now patentable in the US. There have even been tentative claims on YOUR DNA.

        Yep, feudalism is well on its way back.

    2. eulampios
      Linux

      @AC,12:28 GMT

      I'd imagine it's either some kind of ancient algoythm burried deep in the kernel which can't be removed with ease, or it's to do with the filesystem (again)

      Pardon my pedantry, bit It's rather "algorithm buried" (algorithm is not a Greek word, it's Arabic) and my Firefox aspell thingy highlighted this for me.

      Now, if this is true why not going for Red Hat, Google, Facebook, 500 top supercomputers, millions of servers and everyone whose using Linux kernel with all of those buried algorithms? Besides all the mess with patent, it's still very unlikely that one can patent any math, BTW.

      There is a strong feeling though, that what MS is claiming to be their IP is an exFAT long filenames implementation. This is a separate issue, and Linus Torvalds allegedly has the priority, since he had done it long before MS did. On the other hand, everyone bothers about fat because of MS monopoly. So even if they legally can patenting this is, in fact, an abuse of this monopoly. Alternatively, it would be fair to legally force MS to support some alternative filesystems, which they've been ignoring for ages.

      1. eulampios

        Re: @AC,12:28 GMT

        s/whose/who's/g

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'd still love to see what these patents are

      "by Microsoft’s campaign to force Linux, Android and Chrome OS device makers to license its patents.

      Linux, Android which is build on linux, and Chrome OS which is built on Lnux. So really the place the patent is being infringed is Linux."

      ...oh you've not been paying attention, Microsoft has no patents on the Linux Kernel, everybody knows that code all belongs to SCO..... doesn't it Daryl.... ha

  19. Chairo

    The new economics

    If you can't beat them, sue them.

    1. John Tserkezis

      Re: The new economics

      If you can't beat them, sue them.

      Or, if you can't make any money out of your own equipment, make money out of somebody elses!

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: The new economics

      Nothing new about it, but it does make a lie of "reward for innovation and by merit."

  20. Madboater
    Linux

    Show us the code

    This was the challenge Stallman put to MS and they didn't reply, some may say couldn't.

    I would challenge MS to do the same here, however Google don't really care, as long as people keep searching, they will turn a profit. Android only allows most people to search more. Foxcon or any other company that has rolled over to play with MS have made a business decision, this will be based on maximising profits. If this is done by paying a MS fee, then that is what suits them.

    Doing the right thing will only be considered if there is a financial advantage.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Show us the code

      So may even say didn't give a fuck about, since in the end, what could RMS do against MS? Sue them? What do you expect, put your glove in MS's face and then meet them at dawn on the field with their witnesses?

      It's about money, period. A threat needs only be vaguely plausible to be real when it's backed by billions of dollars.

      1. Stuart Castle

        Re: Show us the code

        "It's about money, period.".

        Odd thing to say. Of course it's about Money. Why do you think Microsoft, Samsung, Apple, Foxconn etc are in business? They are in business to make money. Even Google is in business to make money, although they don't make money directly from the users or by selling Android, they do it by selling advertising.

        1. Rick Giles
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Show us the code

          And your usage data.

    2. Rick Giles
      Linux

      Re: Show us the code

      When you get down to the brass tacks (tax?) this is all about screwing Linux and FOSS. Microsoft wants Linux DEAD. Microsoft wants FOSS DEAD.

      I try very hard to not use MS products as much as possible with one exception - the Xbox.

      A turning point is coming. We are either going to be free of them or subject to them with no alternative.

      Listen/watch Eben Moglen.

      1. RyokuMas Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: Show us the code

        "Microsoft wants FOSS DEAD"

        They seem pretty keen on Monogame...

  21. AndricD

    its most likely something about file system or similar which ms has loads of stuff one. note its only devices so very likely to do with some hardware/system interaction

    1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      Re: its most likely something about file system

      I thought the one bit that had raised its head above the parapet was the handling of long filenames.

      Since this comes down to an interoperability feature, perhaps someone should try and get this added to the EU stuff forcing them to publish the APIs on the network to allow interoperability. Seems daft that they're forced to allow interoperability on network access to files but not on microSD cards.

      But generally demanding money for unspecified lists of patents should be accounted as demanding money with menaces.

      1. eulampios

        Re: its most likely something about file system

        Exactly, if this is the case, MS must be legally obliged to start supporting other popular filesystems or be crushed at once with all their NDA's and the murky relationships with their OEM's.

  22. nuked

    Clearly just a creative tax dodge

  23. Adair

    From what I've heard previously...

    ...in this august establishment, if memory serves, is that some of the patents probably concern the implementation of FAT within the Linux kernel. But all the enforced secrecy simply discredits what may be a perfectly legitimate claim, and merely feeds suspicion that MS doesn't actually have any confidence that its claim would stand up to challenge. Instead it prefers to frighten its targets into paying up merely to avoid the expense of years of inconclusive litigation. As I said earlier: it's a protection racket by any other name.

    1. Turtle

      @Adair Re: From what I've heard previously...

      "But all the enforced secrecy simply discredits what may be a perfectly legitimate claim, and merely feeds suspicion that MS doesn't actually have any confidence that its claim would stand up to challenge. Instead it prefers to frighten its targets into paying up merely to avoid the expense of years of inconclusive litigation. As I said earlier: it's a protection racket by any other name."

      Let me explain to you how this works. because you haven't got a clue. The only people that need be impressed by Microsoft's claims in this matter are Samsung's lawyers. And the only "challenges" to which Microsoft's claims need stand up, are "legal challenges". You seem to think that your dissatisfaction as expressed in the comments section of this article are a matter of concern for Microsoft, Samsung, their lawyers, or anyone else. It isn't.

      Since Samsung has had no qualms about using SEPs to counterattack Apple - a very expensive tactic with close to no chance of success - there is no reason to think that they would have any fear in entering into a legal battle with Microsoft. Especially if they thought that it was winnable.

      And I wonder where this idea that Microsoft has to publicly reveal what patents are being licensed or claimed as infringed, originated.That people not even peripherally involved with the matter might want to know, is understandable, but their opinions have no bearing whatsoever on the matter.

      The problem with your position is that it assumes that Samsung's lawyers are completely incompetent. And you also seem to be assuming that you have a better understand and more knowledge of the issues and the patents in question than Samsung's lawyers do. And considering that this is the 19th (publicly announced) royalty agreement between Microsoft and an wide array of Android manufacturers, you also seem to think that you know better than all those lawyers too. You don't.

      1. Turtle

        Li'l Correction: Re: @Adair From what I've heard previously...

        "And considering that this is the 19th (publicly announced) royalty agreement between Microsoft and an wide array of Android manufacturers, "

        That should be "And considering that this is the 19th (publicly announced) royalty agreement between Microsoft (and other IP holders) and an wide array of Android manufacturers..."

      2. Adair

        Re: @Adair From what I've heard previously...

        Dear Turtle, your ad hominem attack does you no credit. Good manners cost nothing, and help keep the discussion focussed on the matters in hand.

        As for your actual points. Yes, you are quite correct on the points of fact (as far as they can be known), but there is more at stake than simply who is entitled to know what, isn't there?

        Software patent law (esp. in the US, it seems), is currently a disgrace and a laughing stock that is ill serving both businesses and the consumers. Though it is doing very well for trolls, sharks, and lawyers.

        While MS may well be perfectly within their rights to act as they are doing, the point is that their actions in this matter are of genuine interest to 'outside' observers (regardless of their 'rights', or lack of them, in the matter).

        On the face of it we see MS acting in an oppressive manner typical of it's history in actively generating FUD in order to entrench it's monopolistic hold on the market. Whether it is entitled to act in this way is irrelevant. Whether it will be able to continue to act in this way remains to be seen.

        MS is not a charity, it is a slave to the financial demands of its share holders. We may pity MS, we may resent MS' bullying hubris. We may also like to comment on what MS does because some of what they do, big as MS is, has an impact on myself and others.

        1. Bernardo Sviso
          Unhappy

          I thought that the whole point of patents is that they're publically disclosed

          That's the deal -- in exchange for disclosure, you get a period of commercial exclusive control.

          (IIRC, there was a recent U.S. case in which a patent was invalidated, precisely because upon closer examination, it didn't actually disclose crucial details.)

          So it seems distinctly countrary to reason, that one can enforce patents AND simultaneously require an NDA or other secrecy over which patents are being licensed.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Adair From what I've heard previously...

        Is the FAT patent really of any relevance anymore? According to http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/03/ms-patent/ Linus Torvalds himself smashed it by pointing out that the patented mechanism has been described in 1992 in comp.os.minix well before MS (re-)invented it. However the article states that this may yet be overruled and I admit to not having kept up to date. Also it may only apply to one out of oh so many jurisdictions. In any case this looks like pretty strong evidence to me that that patent is dead.

        Also you say: "The problem with your position is that it assumes that Samsung's lawyers are completely incompetent."

        It would seem that's your position, too, when you state "Since Samsung has had no qualms about using SEPs to counterattack Apple - a very expensive tactic with close to no chance of success - [...]"

        Perhaps Samsung is paying a quarter of a tenth of a penny per phone and thus chose not to fight while MS were happy they could point more impressionable lawyers of other companies to the fact that Samsung are paying to tell them they better follow suit, then extract more from the naive ones? We'll never know.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Adair From what I've heard previously...

        Here's a theory...

        Maybe Microsoft have people signing up to licensing deals that give their IP away for free. Crazy eh? However most of the deals are with companies that already deal or partner with Microsoft anyway. In fact they seem to be their main target.

        Microsoft seem very ready to do a deal and settle. So perhaps they are just saying - we will give you a patent licence which is worth £100m in exchange for agreeing £100m in Windows licences for mobile products. Net cost of the 'licence' is zero, avoids trying to go through the courts and pay expensive lawyers fees.

        Microsoft then get tie in from a partner who has to keep developing for their platform with IP that would probably not stand up to scrutiny of the law courts.

        Therefore they have '19' agreements but in fact no-one has paid them a penny, but MS get to pretend their IP against android is worth something, that lawyers are looking at it and saying "you better pay up as Microsoft will wipe the floor with " when in fact it's nothing of the sort.

        The whole exercise for Microsoft is to spread FUD and get tie in to their own product and income from windows licensing rather than get ongoing income from royalties.

        1. jonathanb Silver badge

          Re: @Adair From what I've heard previously...

          My understanding is that Microsoft make more money from royalties on iOS and Android than they do from Windows Phone.

          Patents I'm aware of are Long filename support in vfat, iDevices might use it in the camera connection kit, but not otherwise. Androids that have SD card slots use it. The other one I know of is Activsync. iDevices, and a lot of Androids support it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Adair From what I've heard previously...

            "My understanding is that Microsoft make more money from royalties on iOS and Android than they do from Windows Phone."

            Is this understanding based on reading comments in the echo chamber of web-comment pages, or based on any actual direct experience of the matter?

            Constantly repeating made-up "facts" doesn't make them true.

          2. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

            Re: VFAT long names and iDevices

            I'm not sure that the iDevices would need to worry about VFAT, this is just a theory, but my tiny limit experience is that they don't show up as a "disk" when connected to Windows. The real killer that hits everyone else is the usage of removable memory. Owners expect to be able to remove the SD cards from their phones and just plug them into any old standard PC (which means Windows in practice). Therefore the format on the SD card needs to be something that Windows is able to read.

            iDevices don't have removable storage. So no need to support FAT there.

            iDevices don't show up as disks when plugged into a standard PC. So, again, not need to support FAT there.

            Of course for the users that means no cheap memory expansion and means they need to run SW such as iTunes, but it should mean there was no need to ever go near FAT and MicroSoft lawyers which follow it around.

  24. Red Bren
    Mushroom

    Unspecified Patents should be annulled

    Patent defence should work like trademark defence, so that everyone knows the exact nature of the infringement and can avoid doing the same. Of course there is no incentive for Microsoft (or any other patent holder) and its lawyers from doing this as picking off alleged infringers one by one when they become profitable enough is too much of a money spinner. And there's no incentive for the law makers to make disclosure compulsary as their snouts are in the trough too.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One possible patent

    I was wondering if Microsoft made any money from any device that reads and writes files in the Fat and Fat32 format. Reading another article Microsoft makes more money from Android than Its own Windows mobile OS.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh Bill... remember how it used to be...

    . In a memo to his senior executives, Bill Gates wrote, “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.” Mr. Gates worried that “some large company will patent some obvious thing” and use the patent to “take as much of our profits as they want.”

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh Bill... remember how it used to be...

      I don't see a problem with this stance and the behavior of MS at the moment. If they weren't patenting and enforcing the payment of royalties for the use of these payments, IBM, Google, Apple, HP et al would still be doing so and MS would be nowhere. Pointing out a problem which you can't do anything about is just that.

      Personally I don't think that all software patents should be got rid of, but the system clearly needs a serious shake up.

  27. Crisp Silver badge

    I'll bet that there's not one bit of code written by Microsoft in there.

    Microsoft are trying to get rich off the back of other peoples hard work, without lifting a finger to do any work themselves.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'll bet that there's not one bit of code written by Microsoft in there.

      Really? Hows that then? By charging people royalties for using their IP?

  28. g e
    Holmes

    I think that's why NEXUS have no sd card slot

    Then the internal memory can be EXT3 or whatever, not FAT/FAT16/FAT32

    Hence no MickeySoft tax.

    Everyone should just move to EXT3/4 or something and then microsoft can get flak about how they don't support the standards that linux, apple, canon, nikon and everyone else do.

    There's probably more than FAT in that 'broad license' but I bet it's a good chunk of money that MS could be denied just by changing the filesystem

    1. James O'Shea Silver badge

      Re: I think that's why NEXUS have no sd card slot

      "Everyone should just move to EXT3/4 or something"... Well, NOT EXT4, 'cause it has, errm, 'limited' compatibility with Windows and Mac OS X. Why is this important? Many people want their phones to be able to connect to their computers... and the vast majority of desktop and laptop computers run Windows or OS X. I am willing to be corrected on this, but so far as I know the _only_ way to read/write EXT4 from a Mac is to buy a commercial product, from, I think, Paragon. And, that's better than Windows, as there appear to be ways to _read_ EXT4 from Windows, but not to _write_ it. If i'm incorrect in this, please point me to where I can get the required software, I would _greatly_ appreciate it.

      EXT3 has its own compatibility problems, but those could probably be overcome. I know that Paragon (again!) has a commercial driver set which will allow Macs to read/write EXT2/3/4 but I can't seem to locate any open source driver sets which have been in development past around 2005/6 and which are therefore written for PPC, not Intel, systems, and which will therefore not work on current Macs. Perhaps someone who is deeper into the FOSS culture could enlighten me on the current state of FOSS Mac or Windows EXT2/3/4 driver sets?

      The reason vendors use FAT file systems on a large number of different devices (flash drives, cameras, memory cards, etc) is that most O/Ses out there will read/write FAT file systems out of the box. No need to install new drivers. No need to use special apps to connect. Just plug the silly things in and go. Vendors will move to EXT* when they can reliably make money selling devices using EXT* file systems to the general public. You know, the people who don't know and don't care what file system their device uses, so long as when they plug it in, it bloody works.

      1. Crisp Silver badge

        Re: I think that's why NEXUS have no sd card slot

        If I need my phone to use a FAT file system to operate with my Windows PC, then didn't I buy a license to use FAT when I bought my copy of Windows 7?

        1. James O'Shea Silver badge

          Re: I think that's why NEXUS have no sd card slot

          "If I need my phone to use a FAT file system to operate with my Windows PC, then didn't I buy a license to use FAT when I bought my copy of Windows 7?"

          You have a license to use FAT _on the system you installed Win7 on_. You don't have a license to use it anywhere else, such as on your phone, unless you somehow managed to install Win7 on your phone. And even then you'd need a separate license for each additional device (SD card, flash drive, etc) which you want to use FAT on.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: I think that's why NEXUS have no sd card slot

            And even then you'd need a separate license for each additional device (SD card, flash drive, etc) which you want to use FAT on."

            You mean all of those 100's upon 100's of floppy disks I used to have were each individually required to have a licence when I FAT formatted them? Oh noes! I is a criminal!!!

            I suspect you meat to say cameras, phones, tablets etc rather that SD cards,flash drive etc.

        2. Reality Dysfunction

          Re: I think that's why NEXUS have no sd card slot

          You did get the ability for the P,C but the phone also uses this ability so that will be another license fee to MS

      2. eulampios

        @James O'Shea

        What about ext2? On Windows and Mac OS X it is supported through an IFS driver.

    2. Chairo

      Re: I think that's why NEXUS have no sd card slot

      Everyone should just move to EXT3/4

      Good idea, that would also finally end the 4GB file size limit on SD cards.

      As for MACs and Windows PCs - open source drivers should be readily availabe, or at least not too difficult to implement.

      1. James O'Shea Silver badge

        Re: I think that's why NEXUS have no sd card slot

        "As for MACs and Windows PCs - open source drivers should be readily availabe, or at least not too difficult to implement."

        The first problem is that FAT drivers are built into Windows and Mac O/Ses, so that any vendor would have to provide the EXT* drivers. Development costs would push up the prices of devices using non-FAT file systems.

        The second problem is that FOSS EXT* driver development for Windows and Mac seems to have halted years ago. There were, for example, at least two different drivers for MacFUSE. Not only are those drivers dead (or at least I can't find signs of life, I'd love it if someone could show that I'm wrong on this) but it seems that MacFUSE itself ain't with us no more either. The MacFUSE page (http://code.google.com/p/macfuse/) doesn't seem to have been updated since 2007 except to note that MacFUSE is not compatible with Lion, OS X 10.7. Apple currently is pushing 10.8, and 10.9 is, allegedly, on its way out some time later this year.

        It would be nice to have _some_ alternative to Paragon, but there doesn't seem to be anyone making the effort. And until that happens, vendors will NOT be shipping devices with EXT* file systems.

        1. eulampios

          @James O'Shea

          You're wrong again, there is no problem with ext2 support. It's just not installed by default. ext2 has tons of advantages over (ex)Fat32.

          BTW, MS must be legally obliged to include this support with every copy of Windows, since otherwise, this is a clear-cut monopoly abuse.

          1. James O'Shea Silver badge

            Re: @James O'Shea

            Err... according to http://blog.applegrew.com/2011/12/access-ext3ext2-file-system-on-mac-osx-lion-10-7/ and http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13727_7-57457850-263/how-to-manage-ext2-ext3-disks-in-os-x/ among other places, EXT2 is _NOT_ available by default. And, worse, most EXT* implementations will read but not write EXT3 and EXT4. yes, you can get around this. No, normal users won't go to all that trouble.

            There is most definitely a problem with EXT* support: It ain't installed by default, and users have to hunt down 3rd-party systems to do the install. MacFUSE is dead, OSXFUSE hasn't been updated since 2011. Sorry, man, but the current state of EXT* driver support on Mac and Windows is abysmal.

            As for the monopoly argument... good luck with that one. Microsoft would, correctly, point out that they can't be expected to support non-existent products. There aren't any products out there which use EXT* file systems the way that existing products use FAT* file systems. Microsoft will also point out that they don't force anyone to install FAT* file systems, and, indeed, that they no longer use FAT* file systems on their own stuff; they've been trying to kill FAT* since at least WinXP, it just refuses to die 'cause it's convenient for _other_ people. No, the way to get FAT* to die is to get other vendors to install some other file system... except that this would involve including an installer for the other system with their product, which would increase the cost of that product, and also that installer probably would force users to restart their machines to be sure that the new file system was properly installed. This is likely to be unpopular.

            Unless a sufficiently large number of vendors all chose the _same_ 3rd-party file system (and there ain't nothing which says that it'd be EXT* file systems, a bunch of vendors could easily club together and come up with their own file system and split costs between themselves) the big OS vendors (Microsoft and Apple, and, to a lesser extent, Google) simply not only don't have any reason to support non-FAT* file systems (other than their own native file systems, of course) they don't even know which non-FAT* file systems they should support. Why should they support any flavour of EXT* instead of RFS, for instance? And I'd say that it would be likely that any court would regard having to support _all_ the various file systems available for, say, Linux and BSD as being, well, an unreasonable expense. One of the reasons why many Tuxers like Linux is because there is vast choice available in just about any and every subsection of the OS, including the file systems. Choice is good... except when you have to support all possible choices.

            Unfortunately, non-FAT* file system support will almost certainly be limited to a small number of 3rd-parties who provide support to the file systems they favor and that's it. OS vendors will probably merely stay out of the way of these projects, and let them sink or swim on their own. Right now the only EXT* supporter who seems to be swimming is Paragon, and they want cold hard cash for their system.

            of course, if anyone knows of a way to enable EXT* file system support in Windows or OS X _without_ installing a 3rd-party system, feel free to point it out.

            1. eulampios

              returning the downvote to you

              Jim, can you google or bing or yahoo!. Please, ext2 support has been there for ages. Here's more and here's more info about this.

              There aren't any products out there which use EXT* file systems

              Wow, James, please tell us what is that magical filesystems every Android OS is using and let's count their numbers, shall we?

              Microsoft would, correctly, point out that they can't be expected to support non-existent products

              They might be non-existent for you, but for everyone else they are.

              if anyone knows of a way to enable EXT* file system support in Windows or OS X _without_ installing a 3rd-party system, feel free to point it out.

              So you just getting a contradiction. MS can choose not to support the "alien" filesystems, but some 1-st and 2-nd parties support for it should magically be present there.

              As I said earlier, it's not the question that the free filesystem, that is ext*, support is not available for Windows or Mac OS X, it is just the fact they are not out of the box on the preinstalled and monopolized by MS Windows boxes. Now, since you cannot even decline the MS Windows 8 EULA, MS is obliged to include in it tons of things they have not included before.

              1. James O'Shea Silver badge

                Re: returning the downvote to you

                I didn't downvote you.

                And, as I've said repeatedly, USERS NEED TO INSTALL DRIVERS TO USE EXT* FILE SYSTEMS ON MACS OR WINDOWS SYSTEMS. The vast majority of users will not go to that much trouble.

                As for all the Linux boxes out there... ho-rah. All 1-2% of the market. 95%+ can't read/write EXT* file systems without installing the proper drivers... and very few of those 95%+ will bother to do so unless given a compelling reason to do so.

                Should you feel that Microsoft MUST install support by default, well, the courts are available for your use. Have at them. Me, I'll watch from the sidelines.

              2. James O'Shea Silver badge

                Re: returning the downvote to you

                And, oh, yeah, one more thing: there's a significant difference between not getting in your way if you want to install 3rd-party file systems on the OS and installing them at the source. Microsoft (and Apple, and Google) don't prevent you from adding stuff; if it breaks, well, that's your problem, not theirs. I can have my Windows systems have the ability to read/write Apple's HFS+, and indeed I do. Microsoft doesn't give a damn. Apple doesn't give a damn. I can have my Macs read/write NTFS; once again, neither Microsoft nor Apple cares. In both cases there are both commercial and FOSS utilities to allow this. In both cases the utilities in question are kept up to date, and still work just fine with Win7 and 10.8. (I refuse to go near Win8 so I have no idea as to what happens there, and I'm not on Apple's beta test team for 10.9 so I don't know what happens there, either. However, I suspect that the utilities will continue to work on both.) Meanwhile, it's nearly impossible to find some way to write to EXT4 from Windows and the read/write utilities on OS X are getting elderly.

                And all the Tux-oriented downvotes in the world will not change this.EXT* file system support on Windows or OS X without installing a 3rd-party system... 'cause it bloody well can't be done. Downvote away.

                1. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: @James O'Shea

              "except that this would involve including an installer for the other system with their product, which would increase the cost of that product, and also that installer probably would force users to restart their machines to be sure that the new file system was properly installed. This is likely to be unpopular."

              Most devices which currently run FAT code (as opposed to media which simply stores the data structure) already come with an installer to fill your PC up with manufacturer info, manuals, file/photo/media management s/w, "lite editions" of commercial s/w etc so having that also install a filesystem driver is hardly a problem.

              What that filesystem should be, getting a "free" and "standard" one which is useful and efficient and getting manufactures to use it is a different problem.

    3. Sandtitz Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: I think that's why NEXUS have no sd card slot

      EXT2/3/4? - No, you've read all the reasoning already.

      Now, why don't manufacturers use UDF? It's supported by every modern (and many obsolete) operating systems, it's free to implement, and I see no real reason why any device using SD cards (for example) wouldn't work with it.

      Does anyone agree with me?

    4. Bent Outta Shape
      Meh

      Re: I think that's why NEXUS have no sd card slot

      I thought all the Nexus devices forced you into using MTP to write to the flash memory, and that good old "USB Mass Storage" mode was unavailable. So the file system on the flash is, presumably, completely irrelevant for Nexus.

      Unfortunately, the file system does matter for any device that lets you take a flash card out to use elsewhere.

      Or I've just missed something...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe this will expand upon the argument.

    Nothing new. Sounds no different than any Apple patent to me.

    www.networkworld.com/news/2011/070611-microsoft-android.html

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Balance the books...

    ...oh I need to use Windows, but I'm certainly not going to pay for it because of this kind of behaviour. I guess that makes us even, Microsoft.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Balance the books...

      If you behave in this manner you just register as a pirate who's dressed up their use of software they don't want with a faux moral point. If you want to do something useful stop using Windows use Linux, UNIX, Mac OS. By still using Windows you hold back the other systems. If your software vendor doesn't support the OSes you want, lobby them to do so, find an alternative, or pay for Windows.

  31. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Most likely the patents will be something you have been able to do on computer since the Apple Lisa or Amiga UI so the patents would be expired for desktop pcs but Microsoft will have a patent for 'on a mobile or touch screen device' which will have been granted later

    Microsoft don't want the general public to know what they are because they know that people will then hunt vigourously for prior art like they did with the long file name patent for which prior art was found.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You do know you can see all of MS' patents, they're all listed and required to be available for the public to see.

      1. eulampios

        what are they?

        Are MS required to specify where each patent (might be) is infringed. Please, tell us.

  32. LinkOfHyrule
    Joke

    Everytime I take a dump...

    ...I have to pay a small licence fee to Microsoft. Reason: apparently they have patented producing shit!

    boom-boom-tish!

  33. chekri
    Unhappy

    Rest in peace Eadon

    It has been more than four hours since this was posted and still Eadon has not graced us with his written word, ergo, he has shuffled off this mortal coil. Rest in peace dear Eadon, rest in peace.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rest in peace Eadon

      Do we give him a ceremonial funeral. We should have a vote...

      And if he is not dead, can we still tie him onto a gun carriage and drive him over the cobbled streets of Britain's ancient towns and cities?

      1. Toothpick
        Meh

        Re: Rest in peace Eadon

        "Do we give him a ceremonial funeral"

        as long as the taxpayer isn't paying for it.

      2. Chika
        Happy

        Re: Rest in peace Eadon

        Why bother with the carriage? Just drive over him....

        Did I make a grave misunderstanding?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Rest in peace Eadon

      Eadon was called out early on in the thread for not being here, he often seems to no contribute if comments like this are made. (ie: That's he's really rather predictable)

      Hopefully he won't see this and decide to start contributing if he is called out...

  34. IGnatius T Foobar

    Extortion

    This is blatant extortion, pure and simple. Every single Microsoft employee should be left to rot in jail for the rest of their miserable lives.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Extortion

      Get over yourself.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Extortion

      No, just their lawyers.

      The coders just code, the cleaners just clean, the sysadmins just... etc.

      It's not their fault, it's the legal dept and upper manglement - and quite possibly upper management don't really know either, as once a legal dept gets too big it starts to mutate and no longer truly serves its master, it becomes something evil.

      Night of the living lawyer, coming soon to a cinema near you!

  35. b166er

    So much butthurt :)

    They're all as bad as each other, it's not Microsoft's fault, it's the game that's being played.

    If these companies don't want to pay royalties, they're perfectly free to innovate their own solution, but they instead choose to take the easy route and pay Microsoft. No problem here, move along!

    1. eulampios

      b166er

      They're all as bad as each other, it's not Microsoft's fault, it's the game that's being played.

      Everyone has it's own ways of playing it. Microsoft's are the extreme ones. Say, have you heard about Google, Red Hat suing anyone "infringing their IP", not counter-suing to defend themselves? It all goes down to what you actually good and bad at. Microsoft are not very good at designing and writing code, but they have best lawyers and ... yes, the lowest morals.

  36. majorursa
    Linux

    Another nail

    Even more doubting IT decision makers will start looking into open solutions after this news. Apparently MS is seriously in decline and if you are responsible for the future IT in your company you'd better start looking for alternatives soon.

    Whatever goodwill was left has evaporated now.

    1. FutureShock999

      Re: Another nail

      How can MS be seriously in decline if this has just brought them another revenue stream? I mean, usually business analysis looks at decline where a company has LOST revenue streams, not gained them.

      If you told me XBOX sales halved, then I would agree. But just getting another revenue source, legally, and the same way ALL of their competitors do (bar Google, which just violates your data privacy to sell advertising), is hardly a decline. LIke it or not, it is MS getting more powerful.

  37. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Windows

    Why innovate when you can litigate?!

    That being said, I think Foxconn probably negotiated a quid-pro-quo that goes beyond "Hey Redmond, we'll pay you a bunch of money and you won't sue us." Does Foxconn have much to trade here? It's not like they can threaten to sabotage MS consumer electronics in the marketplace considering that the public is doing that themselves! :)

  38. ecofeco Silver badge

    The biggest patent troll

    ...are the corporations themselves.

    1. Crisp Silver badge

      Re: The biggest patent troll

      They are very slowly digging their own graves.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    they're paying anyway

    Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but I was under the impression that Microsoft made money on every Android device sold anyway. In part because of ActiveSync licensing. Android makers could leave this out of course, but if I may hazard a guess : doing that will probably obliterate their fast growing market share.

    Other than that: what is the point of this article ? One huge company makes a deal with another huge company on patents or licensing. So fucking what ? Does anyone think Samsung/Google/HP/Apple and so one handles things differently ? I agree with a previous poster that the US patent system is a complete mess. As is their copyright system (hello, Prenda). I would also argue that taxes can easily be avoided in a legal way in most Western countries, and that most posters here will do this without a second thought. If the system is screwed, it should be fixed. People and corporations who take advantage of loopholes shouldn't be blamed.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Microsoft Android patents?

    I can see a day when Googles lawyers will come a calling to Redmond to collect *their* patent revenue. It is ironic that Microsoft makes more from Android than its own Windows Phone system ...

    "According to the tech consultancy Asymco, Microsoft is likely to earn several times more money through its Android patents than it does from licences for its own Windows Phone system". link

  41. Gil Grissum
    Thumb Down

    Hmmm....

    If Google's Android and Chrome OS violate Microsoft patents, why hasn't Microsoft sued Google for Google to license those patents? Google is the maker of Android and Chrome OS, not these OEM's. Shouldn't GOOGLE be the one licensing those Microsoft patents? Or is it that Microsoft would make more money from OEM licensing than if just Google were to license those patents. And Google is rather silent about all of this, aren't they??

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm....

      Possibly because Google would see them in court, and Microsoft are worried that there's a significant chance that they would lose and the patents would be annulled - then facing possible legal challenges from everyone who previously licenced the patent on threat of legal action.

      MS have a house of cards and they clearly know it from the B&N deal.

      I'm not sure why Google don't step in, it might simply be because lawyers are expensive, and they don't want to fight unless they have to.

      However, it may really be down to the NDAs - Google don't officially know which patents and as MS' accusations have never gone to court they can't file an amicus brief, and cannot step in another way without facing an expensive legal battle in which they do not know what they are defending against before starting it.

      NDAs on these settlements are the truly evil part.

  42. Charles Manning

    Microsoft has entered its SCO phase

    Those that can innovate.

    Those that no longer can litigate.

    5 more years?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft needs all the $$ it can find, since Win8 seems to be tanking.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now that the Windoze bizz is dying off and their mobile products are not selling, Microsoft is changing its primary business strategy from producing software and mobes to being a patent troll.

  45. southpacificpom
    IT Angle

    Wonder if I can patent the patent trolling concept?

  46. Jess

    it seems to me that Microsoft probably has a couple of solid patents that a manufacturer would find inconvenient to work around. (Quite possibly to do with connectivity to windows, as has been pointed out.)

    It also appear that may have a load of shaky patents that would be likely to fail in court.

    So I think it likely that they would have licensed the portfolio for what the value of the solid patents.

    It would be interesting to know what royalties Microsoft receive from the former Symbian share of the market. It appears that something like 10% of the smartphone market moved to Android when Symbian was executed. (And that is ignoring what might have happened had Nokia continued to clean up Symbian so the N8 became as smooth as an iPhone.)

    If 100 million phones were Android and paying a $10 royalty as opposed to Symbian, then the price on Symbian's head is covered. From a quick scan of the figures this looks like it will only take a few years.

    It would be nice if the 'offending' features were able to be removed from android and then sold as a separate app. (If it is just connectivity with windows then a connectivity pack could be sold, which would be bundled with high end phones.) However, whether this would be possible is a secret.

  47. This post has been deleted by its author

  48. All names Taken

    No apologies El Reg...

    ... and sorry for usurping this thread, but it has to be said somewhere in this astute journal.

    This is a great day to be a US citizen.

    It may not seem so especially for those front liners and first responders but you are a great nation and a great people.

    God bless you all.

    (no apologies offered for usurping this thread)

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