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Group complains that Microsoft's heavy handed license-or-sue approach to Android cries for reform

Mosaic Collateral Asset Management -- or M-CAM for short -- has released a scathing analysis of Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) license-or-lawsuit campaign [1][2][3][4] against Android.

The advocacy group, which calls for "ethical use... of wisdom traditions [patents]", comments:

It's settled. We've figured out Microsoft's costume for this year's Halloween party: Ralphie's pink bunny suit from A Christmas Story.  

Why?

Given its licensing program – and recently, its agreement with Quanta, Amazon’s Kindle Fire manufacturer – why not?  A look at Microsoft’s IP Licensing page tells us
the company “has entered into more than 700 licensing agreements and continues to develop programs that make it possible for customers, partners and competitors
to access its growing, broad patent and IP portfolio.”

What a deranged marketing ploy.    It's like a creepy dude in an Easter bunny suit offering eggs, and them throwing them if the passerby refuses to take one.

They say that most companies license because merely out of lack of desire to try to clarify what exactly they violate or don't violate and the validity of the patents involved. M-CAM writes:

And this strategy is working because, really, how many manufacturers are going to look through not only Microsoft's 10,000 plus patents, but their own sizeable portfolios as well, just to determine which patents they may or may not be infringing? We doubt even Microsoft’s patent lawyers know what’s in their own portfolio, let alone what’s in their competitors’.   (Of course, they could always enlist the help of their old CTO Nathan Myhrvold, since he seems to have a good grasp on searching through a 35,000 plus patent pool to find assertion gems.)

(Microsoft's ex-CTO is co-founder of Intellectual Ventures, an infamous patent troll, which matains a host of shell companies with which to sue people.)

M-CAM reveals that International Business Machines, Inc. (IBM) seemingly holds the most Android related patents, though it thus-far hasn't visibly tried to profiteer off the operating system.  On the other hand, Microsoft sits in second place with over 2,300 patents that seemingly apply to Android.

The group warns that Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) -- a new Android device maker -- is at great risk as it has only 12 patents, far less than Microsoft's past victims.  But in the end it concludes that in reality everyone is at risk.

It comments on this and the recent ineffectual reform efforts, writing:

So should Amazon be worried?   Sure. Should every company selling a product be worried?   Sadly, a resounding yes.   Until actual patent reform happens – oops, did we just say the latest patent reform bill did nothing to meaningfully improve the system?   Yes, we did.  – and until the “more is better” stockpiling mentality dissipates from both the overcrowded patent law field and the upper echelons of the corporate tech world, every company large enough to receive attention over its technology is a participant in this cold patent war.

Regardless of your feelings on the accuracy of this colorful analysis, one has to admit that it's at least entertaining.

Source: M-CAM



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RE: What is evil Microsoft doing with that fortune?
By TSS on 10/24/2011 10:11:20 PM , Rating: 4
I think the point is that microsoft isn't more or less evil then other companies. Their evil because the system encourages them to be evil -> it's more profitable.

The entire system needs to be reformed. Globally. Maybe go as far as reconsidering the very idea of patents.

Do they really encourage innovation? It seems to me the usage of the patent determines wether it encourages innovation or not. If the patent holder chooses to stifle innovation by not using the patent and sueing anybody who does, that means that patents do not inherintly benifit society, only if the patent holder chooses to.

Obviously money is involved. But does getting rid of patents really mean inventors can no longer get money? They will still be the first to invent something, so they still have the oppertunity of bringing it to market first. In fact, they will be forced to, since it's no longer profitable to just invent something and sit on it. And avoiding the entire legal mess that's the current patent system will make it cheaper to bring to market too.

It will get copied after that sure, but that doesn't mean those copies are of the same quality (thus quality would be encouraged) and the inventor should've made enough money to invent the next product, or further develop the one he has. Also, nowhere does it say the inventor has to share his secrets with the world. The coca-cola recipe is still a secret, and as long as it is, coca-cola will keep raking in the money *even* with all the knock offs that are around.

Shorter patent times are an option, but does it really matter if innovation is stifled 5 years or 90 years?

funnily enough when looking up US patent law for this reply i found that the first-to-invent system was developped off the constitution. specifically: "by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;", which would mean the comming change to first-to-file would be yet another constitutional violation, as the first to file doesn't have to be the inventor.


RE: What is evil Microsoft doing with that fortune?
By amg1 on 10/25/2011 8:02:38 AM , Rating: 2
solution is simple making patent system transparent..so that anyone can buy patent without cutting someone off..pool all the patent and let companies buy which ever they like and fix a price for patents


By bupkus on 10/25/2011 8:52:24 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
pool all the patent[s] and let companies buy which ever they like and fix a price for patents


iPatents... now available on iTunes, each price set by inventor.*

*Download fees not included.


By Labotomizer on 10/25/2011 9:02:39 AM , Rating: 4
MS is the largest corporate sponsor for patent reform when it comes to software patents. No one ever seems to realize this. MS also doesn't try to stifle innovation with licensing they just want to be compensated for the work they've done. Until the reform happens they have to play by the same rules as everyone else. Ballmer even said the biggest reason for their massive portfolio is to protect themselves. And every patent they go for licensing on is one they already use or are going to implement. MS is anything but a patent troll by the very definition. Even Apple technically isn't, even if they would rather just shut down the competition.


By sprockkets on 10/25/2011 1:13:54 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
MS is the largest corporate sponsor for patent reform when it comes to software patents. No one ever seems to realize this.


Maybe we don't because they seem to profit handsomely off of it.

quote:
MS also doesn't try to stifle innovation with licensing they just want to be compensated for the work they've done.


You mean like software api's that are not new or novel in any way?

quote:
Ballmer even said the biggest reason for their massive portfolio is to protect themselves. And every patent they go for licensing on is one they already use or are going to implement.


So why are they on the offensive with it?

quote:
Even Apple technically isn't, even if they would rather just shut down the competition.


If apple and MS both are suing for "inventing" the ability for a CPU to talk to a different CPU in a phone, and only sue those who are successful, what is that? Where is apple suing over the BB Storm? Where was apple in an outrage when Nokia for over a decade violated the CPU to phone CPU patent? Why all of a sudden pull it out now against HTC even though they made Palm and WinMob phones that violated that patent also for a decade?

If that isn't trolling, maybe it's submarine warfare.


By robinthakur on 10/25/2011 9:16:27 AM , Rating: 2
Well, yes that's all well and good, but there does need to be some motivation to develop (i.e. spend billions in R&D) and see a return on it without people just reproducing it for free like with Apple and Android. While an optimist would say that a company develops something for the greater good, shareholders would say otherwise.


RE: What is evil Microsoft doing with that fortune?
By Motoman on 10/25/2011 11:06:13 AM , Rating: 1
Companies never develop anything for the "common good" - they develop to generate revenue.

Only a non-profit of some kind would ever develp for the "common good."


By callmeroy on 10/25/2011 3:40:09 PM , Rating: 3
That's ridiculous.

And its too easy of a cop out answer too.

You are confused....simply because someone wants to make a profit to earn a living doesn't automatically means profit is the sole driving force to why they started their business.

I love computer games and PC hardware...If good fortune fell on me -- say winning the lotto so I could leave the corporate world and start my own business....doing something I really enjoy -- I could be honestly motivated to provide better service and support as well as a higher quality product for fellow PC gamers....that wouldn't be me not doing anything for the common good.

Getting compensated for honest work is NOT bad and does not mean you have no other motivations for doing business.


"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay














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