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Microsoft claims Google ripped off its intellectual property in making the wildly successful Android OS. Microsoft has reach a licensing agreement with HTC. HTC will pay Microsoft for every Android handset it produces.  (Source: The Mobile Shop)
Microsoft is the latest company to try to attack Google's charging operating system

At the start of March, Apple filed suit against HTC alleging the company's Android operating system handsets violated over 23 of the company's patents.  And this week Microsoft deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez claims that Google's Android OS infringes on many patents that it holds.  He says that Microsoft will try to reach licensing deals with Android handset makers, stating, "competitors do not free ride on our innovations."

The moves hardly come as a surprise.  Google's operating system, led largely by HTC handsets, came out of nowhere surprising smartphone veterans Microsoft and Apple.  Google is poised to pass a slumping Microsoft in smartphone market share sometime this quarter.  Google and its growing Android market are viewed by many as the best alternative to Apple and its App Store.

One key difference is that Android is currently offered for free to hardware makers, significantly cutting their costs.  Microsoft, charges for its operating system, and Apple refuses to license the version of OS X used on the iPhone, preferring a closed platform.

At least one Android handset maker was willing to cut a deal with Microsoft.  HTC, which also makes many Windows Mobile handsets, decided to license the patents involved to avoid endangering its Windows Mobile business.  

Horacio Gutierrez announced the news in a press release, stating, "HTC and Microsoft have a long history of technical and commercial collaboration, and today’s agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercial arrangements that address intellectual property.  We are pleased to continue our collaboration with HTC."

HTC has agreed to pay Microsoft royalties on all Android handsets it makes.

That move leads to a curious conclusion.  The only person that HTC will be paying for Android OS is Microsoft (not Google!).

There may be a little more logic behind the development, though.  Analysts are speculating that the licensing agreement could give HTC access to intellectual property that it could use to defend itself against Apple.

While the threats and royalty demands will likely do little to slow Google's momentum, they do help to ensure Microsoft retains a small cut of the market, in case it goes the way of Palm, seeing its smart phone market share further collapse.



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MS Extortion
By alanore on 4/28/2010 9:30:47 AM , Rating: -1
Why didn't MS sue Google, its Google that allegedly stole your patents.

It seems a lot like Microsoft story a few years ago, when Microsoft accused Linux of invalidating 250 of their patents. Told them that they might take legal action. They extorted billions of dollars out of the leading Linux distributors, then a couple weeks later donates tens of thousands of lines of code for better integration between Linux and Windows.





RE: MS Extortion
By Dribble on 4/28/2010 9:59:13 AM , Rating: 5
It's like the cold war - all the big companies have huge piles of patents, and they are all breaking each others patents. They can't sue each other without it meaning mutual annihilation.

HTC on the other hand is obviously a bit lacking in the patent department which is why everyone is picking on them.


RE: MS Extortion
By jvillaro on 4/28/2010 10:02:46 AM , Rating: 5
I think you are getting a little bit ahead of yourself.
HTC is probably the top windows mobile phone maker around, there must be something more about this than just extorsion as you put it.
I´m more inclined to think this is a move to help HTC in its suit from Apple (the original extorsionts). I think Microsoft and Apple have some sort of cross patent agreements or something like that. If it had a real gripe Android, I think they would attack Google.
In the end I don´t think they would be trying to "hurt" an important ally, and somebody they need to sell their windows phones


RE: MS Extortion
By The0ne on 4/28/2010 10:20:07 AM , Rating: 3
I couldn't agree more. There's something fishy about this story and it's not just that it's poorly lacking in the details. Hope there's more "news" to come.


RE: MS Extortion
By Gio6518 on 4/28/2010 2:03:57 PM , Rating: 2
Prove that when HTC steps on patents theyre willing to settle....also proves that even HTC feels that Apples claims are fictitious


RE: MS Extortion
By omnicronx on 4/28/2010 4:50:59 PM , Rating: 2
The only fact here is that HTC agreed to pay licensing fee's. Aside from that, there is absolutely nothing being 'proved' here..

For all you know this was not merely MS asking HTC to payup, but a cross patent deal that gives HTC access to MS patents. That would give them the fire power to fight Apple.

In fact I could make claim that the exact opposite is true. HTC realizes that some of Apples claims may not be fictitious, and they are acting accordingly.(by beefing up their patent portfolio)

All of this is speculation at best until we know more details.


RE: MS Extortion
By alanore on 4/28/2010 10:58:44 AM , Rating: 1
Its obvious that MS has something over HTC.

It maybe that this is the pre-positioning move that HTC and MS agreed, which would allow HTC to argue that Apple don't hold the patents but MS do, with out fear of retribution. Although that assumes that MS have the patents to counter Apples in HTC legal case.

This wouldn't be the first time MS bullied companies using it's IP. MS made Amazon, Novell, Brother International Corp, Fuji Xerox Co. Ltd, Kyocera Mita Corp., LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. I-0 Data and TomTom buy Linux patent protection. For alleging Linux stole 250 of its patents. MS never sued Linux, nor did it reveal any of the patent infringment, it just taxed large companies that did.

Definition: Extortion is the crime of obtaining something from someone, especially money, by using force or threats.


RE: MS Extortion
By Roffles on 4/28/2010 11:42:49 AM , Rating: 2
I read a different article (source unknown from my phone) and that's how it's explained in the article. This is to give HTC some ammunition as it defends itself against the Apple lawsuit.


RE: MS Extortion
By Danish1 on 4/28/2010 3:13:26 PM , Rating: 3
I think you are right and it's very well played by MS/HTC, it's a win for both of them and too some extent both a win and a loss for Google.

MS gets one up in the bank on Google by having a showcase of Android royalties being paid to them and they get a little cash from HTC as well, plus being a the thorn in the side of aggresively expanding Apple must be sweet as well.

HTC got itself some ammo and another major ally in its fight with Apple for what I'm sure is a very reasonable price.

Google lose one vs. MS but gains one on Apple.

The only big loser is Apple.


RE: MS Extortion
By SpinCircle on 4/28/2010 10:16:05 AM , Rating: 3
It is possible that the patent refers to something in the interface (the Sense UI) that HTC uses and not directly in the android OS. So, it is possible that is why MS went after HTC instead of Google or other android phone makers.


RE: MS Extortion
By omnicronx on 4/28/2010 1:41:06 PM , Rating: 4
First off, they didn't sue anyone. HTC and Microsoft have a very good relationship, HTC agreed to pay licensing fees.

Second, as with Apples case against HTC, Android is an open source project, so its up the manufacturer to adhere to patents, not the main contributor to the project.

Thirdly, read the last line of the article. HTC is Microsoft's primary mobile vendor, there is absolutely no advantage for MS if HTC were to go the way of the dodo.. The exact opposite actually, so this could very well be a case of MS trying to extend HTC's patent portfolio to help them in the fight against Apple (perhaps overlapping patents and such). Although pretty much everything is pure speculation at this point.


RE: MS Extortion
By alanore on 4/28/2010 7:03:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
First off, they didn't sue anyone. HTC and Microsoft have a very good relationship, HTC agreed to pay licensing fees.


What so HTC thought it would be a good idea to increase the cost of its android platform to its customers? HTC has taken this action because it is obviously a lesser evil than the alternative of not paying a license fee on the andriod platform. The fact is that now HTC must pay a license fee to Microsoft, which either HTC has to absorb the cost by taking a hit on profit, or has to pass on to it customers. Either way its not in HTCs benifits. Which obviously begs the question why has HTC decided to pay a license fee on Googles anroids platform to a third party.

Analysts have speculated that this action was taken to counter act Apples legal action. The fact is that the terms of the agreement have not be released. Microsoft's IP deputy did release a statement in which he said,"We have a responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to ensure that competitors do not free ride on our innovations.... We have also consistently taken a proactive approach to licensing to resolve IP infringement by other companies, and have been talking with several device manufacturers to address our concerns relative to the Android mobile platform."

This statment implies that HTC has breached Microsofts IP, and as a result has reached a "Patent Protection" agreement, similar to the Linux patent agreements reached reached with several large companies in 2007. In the 2007 case Microsoft reached agreements with several linux using companies. At the time, the exact patent were not publicly disposed, yet several companies agree to pay Microsoft a license fee. Then in 2009 Microsoft used the fact that it had signed cross licensing agreements with other 3rd parties, to attempt to sign a similar license agreement with Tom Tom. It was at this point in which Microsoft had specified that the majority of the patent issues stemed from the implementation FAT filesystem, specifically Long File Names. The exact patents have never been pointed out to Linux and as such not been resolved. If Micrsoft truly had a problem with the illegal use of its patents wouldn't it tell the offending entity, in this case Linux, so it could resolve the issues? Microsoft never because licensing it patents it far more profitable to it.

Now here is the real kicker. Many of the companies that signed the agreement never publicly acknowledged it, both becuase of a NDA as part of the deal, but far more importantly, any company that signs a cross licensing agree must protect the downstream receipents, it doesn't then it invalidates the GPLv2 License which Android is distributed under. Unless this agreement explicitly protects HTC's retailors and end users, then it makes HTC use of andriod illegal. Similar to Linux patent protection I doubt we'll ever find out.

quote:
Second, as with Apples case against HTC, Android is an open source project, so its up the manufacturer to adhere to patents, not the main contributor to the project.


No its not, the GNU attempts to cover its bases, but technically the end user is as responsible as the orginal distributor. Somehow I can't see an Judge sueing individual users. Just as its unlikely they would sue HTC for Googles code. (See GNU chapter 10 and 11) The GNU simply states that you shouldn't include patented material if you don't own the patent.

If Mercedes makes a car that steals BMW technology who do you sue? The car buyer(The end user)? The car dealership (HTC)? or Mercedes (Google)?

quote:
Thirdly, read the last line of the article. HTC is Microsoft's primary mobile vendor, there is absolutely no advantage for MS if HTC were to go the way of the dodo.. The exact opposite actually, so this could very well be a case of MS trying to extend HTC's patent portfolio to help them in the fight against Apple (perhaps overlapping patents and such). Although pretty much everything is pure speculation at this point.


Yes, taxing HTC android portfolio in no way helps HTC. Similar to point 1, There must be a another reason, as the exact nature of this agreement has not been revealed we can only debate wither this deal was reached because it protects HTC against Apple, or wither it protects HTC against Microsoft (In which I have layout the pretext that Microsoft have used this technique before)

Others have mentioned HTC Sense UI as other android handset providers have not been sued(reached license agreement). Its certainly plauable. Sense UI was orginally developed for the Windows Mobile, using its API functions. When implementing Sense UI on Android, if Andriod lacked an API function HTC may have added their own version, which may have invalidated Microsoft license. Personally I don't know why Microsoft wants to bite the hand that feeds, at the time of buying my mobile it was only Sense UI that stopped my buying a first gen iPhone and by a Windows Mobile instead.


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