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Acer, maker of the popular Iconia Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet has become the latest device maker to cave in to Microsoft's licensing demands.  (Source:
Acer, Viewsonic agree to pay Microsoft's toll

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has already inked lucrative licensing details with General Dynamics Corp. (GD) (owners of Itronix, a maker of rugged tablets) [source]; Velocity Micro, Inc. [source]; Onkyo Corp. [source] (JSD:6628); and HTC Corp. (SEO:066570) [source].  It's pressuring Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO:005930) into a similar licensing deal.  Reportedly it wants up to $15 per device sold.  

So what do all these companies have in common?  They all use Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android operating system and all are afraid that Microsoft may make good on its threat to sue them if they don't pay licensing fees.

Now Taiwan's Acer Inc. (
TPE:2353) has agreed [press release] to a similar licensing arrangement, though it declined to disclose how much it had agreed to pay per device.  Acer makes the popular Android 3.x "Honeycomb" Iconia tablet.

Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft comments, "We are pleased that Acer is taking advantage of our industry wide licensing program established to help companies address Android's IP issues. This agreement is an example of how industry leaders can reach commercially reasonable arrangements that address intellectual property."

Of course of amiable phrasing "Help... address Android's IP issues" translates roughly to "forced to pay under threat of lawsuit".

Google does offer Android to device makers for free, so licensing isn't game over to Android manufacturers unlike Apple, Inc.'s (
AAPL) lawsuit campaign [1][2][3][4][5][6], which simply looks to ban Android devices from the market.  However, it does shift the balance of power slightly in the favor of Microsoft, who is trying to push its own Windows Phone 7 smartphone operating system on the masses, by making it less profitable to make Android devices.

Many more manufacturers will like opt the route of Acer and HTC -- simply paying Microsoft's demanded toll.

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Time for change..
By nocturne_81 on 9/9/2011 2:13:18 AM , Rating: 0
In these times, I honestly don't know how it is still legitimate to patent the capability of software to do something. Obviously outright stealing code is a violation of copyright, but any programmer certainly knows there's a million different ways to code something and end up with the same solution.

That's like saying I could make an application that does a specific function, lets say collecting data from sensors wirelessly, and then patent the capability of this program (not the actual programming). A few years go by, and suddenly I have a competitor with an equivalent program. Now, they didn't steal any code, they didn't steal any of my design, they may as well never known that my product existed -- but nonetheless their product does what mine does, and maybe even more. Suddenly, my profits start dipping, sales start slacking.. I don't bother improving my product -- I shouldn't have to; I have a patent!! So I sue this company into oblivion -- or even better, I threaten to sue every single retailer that sells the competing product, extorting them into having to pay me off for each copy they sell.

It's not willing patent infringement, it's not a copyright violation, it's not even a clever facsimile -- all Google did was start walking down a path that came to a common logical conclusion. They didn't even want to be compared to the competitors -- they tried to make a superior product.

Another well publicized example is years back with the advent of web 2.0. Out of nowhere, photo sharing sites started popping up -- seems like a pretty obvious idea, right? Exactly.. except two years earlier, somebody came up with the obvious idea and patented it. Nobody ever saw this patent, and the holder didn't move to actualize his idea. Now, after all the photo sites like Flickr started popping up (and becoming quite profitable), the patent holder sold his patent to a troll patent firm, who proceeded to sue everyone that actually exercised what they thought was a profitable idea.

Is this at all logical, rational, or even moral? It's getting ridiculous!

"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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