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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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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.


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