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Samsung Galaxy S II  (Source: Samsung)
You can run, but you can't hide from Microsoft's wrath

Samsung may be the latest, but it likely won't be the last when it comes to paying royalties to Microsoft. Google's Android operating system may be dominating the smartphone market -- putting it well of Apple's iOS and RIM's Blackberry OS -- but some manufacturers are paying the price via lawsuits and license agreements [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8].

Samsung is already feeling the pinch from Apple with regards to software and hardware design patents, and Microsoft just scored a nice steady stream of cash today from Samsung (estimated to be anywhere from $10 to $13 per Android handset/tablet) thanks to a new licensing agreement. 

Now, new statements from Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith suggest that the boys from Redmond are just getting started. “So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents,” said Smith to Kara Swisher of AllThingsD

Microsoft has already roped HTC into a licensing agreement (it even signed up Viewsonic and Acer), and bringing Samsung along for the ride covers a huge chunk of the Android devices on the market today. 

“I think there is a good chance we will look back at today and say this was the day that we reached a tipping point in the market,” Smith continued. 

For its part, a representative from Google blasted the agreement and questioned Microsoft's motives. The company released the following statement to TechCrunch:

This is the same tactic we’ve seen time and again from Microsoft. Failing to succeed in the smartphone market, they are resorting to legal measures to extort profit from others’ achievements and hinder the pace of innovation. We remain focused on building new technology and supporting Android partners.

After that response, Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s Head of Communications, took to Twitter to kick some dirt into Google’s eyes:

Given the statements from Smith and Shaw, it appears that Microsoft is just getting started with Android licensing agreements. Motorola had better watch its back, because the belly of the beast isn't quite full yet.

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For those who asked
By sprockkets on 9/28/2011 7:00:29 PM , Rating: 4

This is the "innovation" Microsoft gets to collect on.

And if you had any balls like Oracle, you would sue the maker of Android directly.

RE: For those who asked
By kitonne on 9/28/2011 9:31:32 PM , Rating: 5
They are also suing for FAT-16 and FAT-32 patents (every SD card is FAT-32 out of the box, although it could be reformatted to EXT2 or some other format). So, as long as Android devices support FAT-32 removable flash cards, Microsoft can extract money (until the patents run out, and FAT-32 was introduced with Windows 95 if I remember correctly). It is possible to come out with a free EXT2 device driver for Win 7, XP and OSX and remove the "out of the box" FAT-32 support for Android, but I do not know if people would put up with it (yes, I have tried a couple free EXT2 device drivers, but they all crash or corrupt data under load, need something a little better).

Re the windows-on-screen management patents, I have seen over 20 years ago a library package which did a lot of the very same functions under DOS. The HELP and DOSSHELL under DOS 5.0 also had overlapping windows, mouse support, and management of content. If you have an old copy of DR-DOS you have the same stuff - multiple overlapping windows with mouse support. Going back further, see how WordStar worked under CP/M with a VT-220 terminal - you had overlapping text and graphics windows (no mouse though, you had to learn keyboard shortcuts).

RE: For those who asked
By sprockkets on 9/28/2011 10:12:18 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed. I'm also willing to bet if WM7 ever gets any significant market share, Apple will sue over "multi-touch" next. They haven't shown any willingness to license that tech they think they invented.

RE: For those who asked
By sprockkets on 9/28/2011 10:22:35 PM , Rating: 5
Can't forget this gem either:

Microsoft sang a very different tune in 1991. 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.”

Mr. Gates wrote his 1991 memo shortly after the courts began allowing patents on software in the 1980s. At the time Microsoft was a growing company challenging entrenched incumbents like I.B.M. and Novell. It had only eight patents to its name. Recognizing the threat to his company, Mr. Gates initiated an aggressive patenting program. Today Microsoft holds more than 6,000 patents.

It’s not surprising that Microsoft — now an entrenched incumbent — has had a change of heart. But Mr. Gates was right in 1991: patents are bad for the software industry.
Bold mine.

RE: For those who asked
By Ilfirin on 9/29/2011 10:36:54 AM , Rating: 4
They are still one of the biggest proponents of patent reform and the removal of software patents.

Until the day that happens, however, they will continue playing the same game every company does.

RE: For those who asked
By djdjohnson on 9/29/2011 12:31:06 AM , Rating: 4
Apple doesn't own a patent on multi-touch. Stop spreading this bogus lie.

They have patents on a few aspects of their implementation of multi-touch, none of which I've seen used in a Microsoft product.

RE: For those who asked
By dark matter on 9/29/11, Rating: -1
RE: For those who asked
By Kel Ghu on 9/29/2011 7:31:57 AM , Rating: 3
Please stop showing your dumbness. People trolling around like you are tiring.

A patent on the "Implementation of Multi-Touch" is not the patent on "Multi-Touch" you fool.

And it has been refused its trademark by the USPTO:

RE: For those who asked
By sprockkets on 9/29/2011 7:51:20 AM , Rating: 3
They patented the pinch to zoom gesture AND the heuristic of scrolling with your finger.

YES, it's a weak attempt to try to stop competitors from stealing their idea, BUT IT DOES EXIST. And they have sued others over it already.

Your turn.

RE: For those who asked
By someguy123 on 9/29/2011 3:21:24 PM , Rating: 1
This isn't really contrary to his post. Like he said, they have implementation patents, not a patent on the multi-touch technology itself.

RE: For those who asked
By Flunk on 9/29/2011 9:32:09 AM , Rating: 4
The only reason Apple and Microsoft don't sue each other is that they each know the other has a huge patent portfolio so they would end with a pricey trial and probably end up paying licensing to each other of roughly equivalent value. It's just not worth it.

RE: For those who asked
By Gungel on 9/29/2011 1:54:54 PM , Rating: 2
What's WM7? WP7 is a Microsoft product and they have cross-license agreements with Apple on almost everything.

RE: For those who asked
By cjohnson2136 on 9/29/2011 1:56:58 PM , Rating: 2
WM7 is Window Mobile 7, some people call it that because 6.5, 6.0 were all Windows Mobile xx so some have cared that over to WP7 even though they are two extremely different products

RE: For those who asked
By Penti on 9/29/2011 3:23:45 AM , Rating: 2
You are basically free to use fat, but just not some aspects of it, but you would have to handle files like it was a god damn old time ipod almost. Long filenames is out basically. Some tricks around that has been suggested however. Which I think is implemented in the kernel. Microsoft only mentions #5,579,517, #5,758,352 and #6,286,013 or three themselves. The so called OS patents GNU/Linux and every other operating system on the planet which runs on billions of devices allegedly infringe on is not up for any IP license and are not specified at all. They would basically not be allowed to be used in limiting the distribution of competitive and especially OSes free of per device royalties or licenses. For which there are many in the embedded space, most built on heritage older then Microsoft's OS's.

But of course you have to license stuff like Exchange-protocol support if you plan to implement MS-tech. But I think companies like Motorola already does that. As they have some special custom rolled clients for it built in into some phones. Google should probably already have a license for the rudimentary exchange supporting but optional built in mail client.

Of course Android it self is not royalty free for the handset makers, they need to license the video codec and audio patents, for which every maker already has licenses for and so on. Same rules applies to any other os too. Including WP7. Mobile devices don't have the same IP-license rules as desktops. Microsoft can't really give anybody say a MP3-license when they sell their mobile OS software to them. Computer games seldom use MP3 for instance as that would mean a license that would have to be contracted differently for every title. Btw Microsoft didn't begin to sell FAT-licenses until 2003, although devices for sure used it before that period. In principle it's also the only file system that demands royalties. Microsoft had previously basically made it free irrevocable. Reversing on that doesn't exactly show good faith but oh well.

Most handset makers use licensed Tuxera software for fat and so on though. And have Microsoft licenses for it. That don't amount for more then 0.25 per device or something though, 10-13 dollars are totally bull. It might have been licensed by the SoC vendor already too. No biggie just a lot of trouble for nothing. Unsure what it means outside of the US as Microsoft claims no none-US patents for FAT. Of course it means that we outside of the states pay charges we shouldn't pay. You shouldn't have to pay for more then exFAT and Exchange support for a Linux/Android device any way as they don't demand any royalties as a package deal for any other OS on the planet.

And of course devices could simply remove the USB mass-storage mode altogether. And simply advocate to transfer the files wirelessly.

RE: For those who asked
By nocturne_81 on 9/29/2011 6:46:57 AM , Rating: 2
Actually, MS never licensed MP3 tech from Alcatel to my recollection.. Albeit, they took on the brunt of litigation to protect OEM manufacturers -- a path I am disappointed that Google is not taking.

That's exactly why LAME stands for LAME Ain't an MP3 Encoder.. it's not an mp3 encoder, so they can't be sued, right..?

RE: For those who asked
By sprockkets on 9/29/2011 4:15:58 PM , Rating: 2
YES they can, but apparently they didn't because it promoted their format.

FAAC never distributed their code in binary form to avoid infringment.

RE: For those who asked
By Gondor on 9/29/2011 7:40:55 AM , Rating: 3
I don't see how something along the lines of "FAT(32) access" can be patented. This was thrown out decades ago with IBM's lawsuit against Compaq over reverse-engineering and implementing BIOS on their own. Filesystem such as FAT(32) had known structure, write your functions to access it and that's it.

RE: For those who asked
By sprockkets on 9/29/2011 9:55:10 PM , Rating: 2
It's for the long file names. Don't use that and you are OK. It's been invalidated and later on upheld in upper courts or the patent office - nothing can kill it now except expiration.

RE: For those who asked
By HrilL on 9/29/2011 1:25:42 PM , Rating: 2
The FAT-32 patent was likely filed and possibly approved before 1995 and thus is almost if not already expired. Patents last for 20 years and then they go into the public domain. This is likely not one of the patents they are fighting over. As for FAT-16 its been expired for a while.

By sprockkets on 9/28/2011 7:10:08 PM , Rating: 2
“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents,”

That's not saying much at all. So far I haven't seen anything that hasn't infringed on someone's bogus patents.

RE: really
By carniver on 9/28/2011 7:53:48 PM , Rating: 1
Exactly. I'm sure their pointless GUI patents can apply on iOS as well! Why must every behemoth pick on Android? Try suing Apple instead. You'll win our hearts if you have the balls to take on the strong and not bully the weak.

RE: really
By borismkv on 9/28/2011 8:00:28 PM , Rating: 3
Apple pays licensing fees to Microsoft as well. MS gets a certain amount of every i-device sold.

RE: really
By ussfletcher on 9/28/11, Rating: 0
RE: really
By lolmuly on 9/28/2011 10:00:40 PM , Rating: 3
care to elaborate? because i was under the impression that microsoft borrowed it from apple who borrowed it from xerox. Beyond icons, buttons, windows, menus, and cursors, what else is there?

Maybe transitions? But I'm pretty sure those can all be attributed to the film industry long before operating systems started using them.

Am I overlooking something obvious here? And if it's so obvious that I would overlook it, why should it have a patent?

RE: really
By nocturne_81 on 9/29/2011 6:51:20 AM , Rating: 2
Though it may have seemed revolutionary at the time.. The GUI's that we all enjoy are almost entirely the product of common sense alone..

If you can think of a better way to create an interface that doesn't use re-sizable/movable windows along with a 'bar' on some edge with a button to close it.. patent it now! Quick! DO IT BEFORE MS DOES!

RE: really
By retrospooty on 9/28/2011 10:53:49 PM , Rating: 3
"So far I haven't seen anything that hasn't infringed on someone's bogus patents"

If you have bogus patents (cough Apple) you sue for damages or to stop sales. If you have valid patents, you dont need to sue. You get royalties and you get paid , you get paid because there is not a question to the validity of the patent.

RE: really
By silverblue on 9/29/2011 5:13:49 AM , Rating: 3
MS is probably doing this the right way. Regardless of how well or badly their own mobile OS performs, they still get a tidy amount of revenue from cross-licencing.

If all judges had common sense (sadly, this isn't the case everywhere), any and all suits filed by Apple concerning such "bogus" patents would be thrown out of court. Suing competitors for developing products that look even slightly similar to yours is more than slightly tenuous and will, one day, with any luck, get stamped on with a giant Monty Python-style boot.

By TakinYourPoints on 9/29/2011 6:23:33 AM , Rating: 2
This is what happens when a company doesn't protect itself with a patent portfolio, now Google has everyone either looking to collect license fees or ban sales. Apple, Microsoft, and Oracle, that's a lot of big companies with the courts on their side.

What a colossal blunder, if Google had a legal team then they should be fired. The only thing more shameful is how they let their hardware partners out to dry after giving them an OS to run and no protection to go with it. No way Microsoft would have let this happen to PC vendors with Windows.

By nocturne_81 on 9/29/2011 6:59:18 AM , Rating: 2
I think you're missing the point..

Linux is the perfect example, as it violates practically every interface, design, tech, and code patent filed in the last 3 decades. But it's free, right? So really, nobody is responsible, or libel, for it..

Likewise, Android is also free, and for the most part, open source. But unlike Linux, it's sold embedded into devices with incredibly high profit margins, widening market share, and incredible sales figures.

For the most part, Android handset manus are being sued over the fact that they put Android on to begin with, not that they actually intentionally violated any patent.

By NellyFromMA on 9/29/2011 8:58:21 AM , Rating: 2
Google distributes the source for free (or extremely low cost based on some reports) to OEMs, so suing them is a little bit of a null point. They didn't DIRECTLY profit, only indirectly (ads) so its a muddy case. Howeverm, the manufacturers of the devices distribute hardware containing the patent violating software for direct profit, so its an easier case to prove. It's not cowardly, its common sense.

By quiksilvr on 9/29/2011 9:19:19 AM , Rating: 2
Wait a minute...

So if they just sold the phones with no OS on it, Google can just instruct people that want Android on their phones to plug it into an internet connected device and download it for free on their phone AND MANUFACTURERS WONT HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS?!

By HrilL on 9/29/2011 1:31:26 PM , Rating: 2
And that would work for what maybe 10% of the android owner population. Its not practical.

By cjohnson2136 on 9/29/2011 1:35:06 PM , Rating: 2
I think its mean as more of a hypothetical situation that would allow Google to bypass this patent stuff. I highly doubt he would suggest that plan.

By quiksilvr on 9/30/2011 10:08:42 AM , Rating: 2
It's possible. Just make it very verbal in commercials about it. And just plug the device, log into Google Android and click "detect device" and then let it suggest what you can get (Android, WP7, Symbian, etc.). Then just click and it will download and install for you automatically. Doesn't seem too difficult for even the most noobish user.

1) Log in
2) Click OS of choiec
3) Click install
4) :D

By Daemyion on 10/4/2011 11:17:16 AM , Rating: 2
That makes Google directly responsible as it's distributing directly to end users. If it comes with Google services as a default MS, Apple and others can take them to court not only for the infringements but also monopoly tactics.

Honestly though, that's exactly what Google is doing now, but without the direct legal link back to them.

Summary of this article...
By bennyg on 9/30/2011 2:59:11 AM , Rating: 2
Lawyer says it's a great time to be a Patent Attorney specialising in software.

Just what we need...
By masamasa on 9/29/2011 10:56:07 AM , Rating: 1
More lawsuits and more shitty Microsoft products/service on the market by them suing the competition to gain market share. How about focusing on building better products (i.e. your server 2011 product is terrible) before you worry about patent infringement??? You've been screwing consumers with your monopoly for years.

By icanhascpu on 9/28/11, Rating: -1
By jwcalla on 9/28/11, Rating: -1
RE: wow
By chmilz on 9/28/2011 7:17:07 PM , Rating: 5
Patent BS aside, at least they're giving competitors the option to license. Apple is trying to monopolize the industry via product bans.

I actually side with MS on this one. They're not a patent troll. They've created an impossibly huge amount of tech to date, and the use that tech to make products. If a competitor uses that tech, the competition-friendly way to solve the problem is via licensing.

RE: wow
By sprockkets on 9/28/2011 10:19:29 PM , Rating: 1
Maybe not a patent troll, but Balmer seems to want to send the message that Linux and Android will never be free as long as he is around.

IMHO if there was any partner Google should go with, it's Motorola, since they gave the finger to Microsoft and all their patents.

RE: wow
By NellyFromMA on 9/29/2011 9:02:04 AM , Rating: 2
Linux (excluding Android) does little to nothing to chip into Microsoft market share realistically. Android generates more profits, by way of ads for Google, meanwhile the manufacturers receive nice margins based on patent violating software. You don't see the difference?

Any profits made on the paid distros of Linux are not note worthy in terms of litigation.

So, Linux is safe as long as it meaintains its 'security advantage'... that is, its obscurity in the market, much like what Apple is starting to enjoy less and less.

That's how I see it anyways.

RE: wow
By jwcalla on 9/28/2011 10:20:53 PM , Rating: 1
Microsoft is trying to monopolize the industry also... they're just going about it a different way.

Most of these "patents" are just plain crap, especially if they're UI- or software-related.

RE: wow
By blueaurora on 9/29/2011 12:21:06 AM , Rating: 1
Microsoft: Your patenting it wrong!
<Apple reference for anyone like my wife who didn't get it>

RE: wow
By grebe925 on 9/29/2011 5:51:52 AM , Rating: 2
MS has created "impossible huge amount of tech"? Their MS-DOS was a rip-off, Windows was a rip-off, IE was a rip-off, MS Office was rip-off and they made their money copyrighting the computer equivalent of the placement of the brake, accelerator and clutch pedals in a car because car-makers cannot interchange them.

If anything has to have the highest bar for obtaining a patent, it should be software. Because, by it's very definition, it is meant to do different things for different people on the same underlying hardware. These patents are squelching true innovation.

RE: wow
By nocturne_81 on 9/29/2011 7:06:01 AM , Rating: 2
DOS wasn't a rip-off... it was a steal!

Gates was contracted by IBM to produce an OS.. so he went out and bought DOS for a measly $50k.

As far as the rest... you lost me there, buddy..

If you actually want to learn a bit about the patent system and the advent of software, start by looking into object code vs source code litigations -- ironically, a huge step backward for software innovation that Apple is entirely responsible for. Or really, start at the beginning by learning what's required to file a patent. Basically, you hire a lawyer who is required to do a discovery process to determine if it's legitimately original, and then pass it on to the patent office who sits on it for a few years before giving it the ol' rubber stamp without the slightest glance.

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