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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.  


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, 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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Shouldn't MS worry about another anti-trust lawsuit?
By phatboye on 10/24/2011 11:28:40 PM , Rating: 1
I am not sure what the final details of the US v MS anti-trust settlement were but if MS can successfully strong arm a vast majority of the companies using non-MS mobile OSes wouldn't that be a strong argument to bring back up the MS anti-trust lawsuit and place fines on MS for using their dominant position to hurt their competitors bottom line by forcing them into high priced license agreements?

By fcx56 on 10/25/2011 4:48:28 AM , Rating: 4
I'll just go in and remove any trademark from Windows and replace it with a synonym, then give it away for free and only pocket the revenue I make off advertising and application sales. Good thing Microsoft never implemented a ballot box with the appropriate font for me to choose a third-party control panel so we can hit them again, those greedy bastards!!

By "dominant" position are you implying the now-defunct WinMo 6.5 or the under-marketed and practically irrelevant Windows Phone 7?

By spacemonkey211 on 10/25/2011 12:52:28 PM , Rating: 2
Ummm... you forgot to mention that you will have to share none of the same source code either...

In essence, create a totally new OS that is not binary compatible, but just vaguely looks like an MS product.

By Gurthang on 10/25/2011 9:01:08 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry, the anti-trust has nothing to do with this. Patents are essentily a legalized monoply on something for X number for years. The premise is that this protection creates a healthier market by protecting small innovators.

Lets be clear here until a patent is invalidated or has expired, once it is granted that person or company has the right to be the only one to use that "idea". There is no requirement to license to anyone, and unlike brand names where you must defend it ot risk loosing it, if I owned the patent on being an apple fanboy I could sue pirks out of existance but not macdevdude just because I felt macdevdude was not worth my time. And I don't have to sue you as soon as I find out you are infringing, I can wait should I wish until I can do maximum damage to your business its your job to be sure you don't infringe.

Is that a nice way to behave? Nope... so when you complain about what MS is doing realize that they are not trying to crush Android and in some ways might actually help some companies like HTC protect themselves from nastier competitors who just want them out of the market like... Apple *cough*

The anti-trust was all about Microsoft using their dominant OS to push their own browser to the expense of Netscape, and MS abusing their dominant position to force OEMs to only install what MS wanted on the PCs and make it less proftable for companies to offer alternative OS solutions on their PCs. (Although IMHO web browsers should always have been free or bundled with another paid product as they are a "reader/player" type product. And although I find MS's strong arming the OEMs that made it hard for products like OS/2 to compete were bad, If it would mean less crapware on new PCs from OEMs I would almost be willing to let MS dictate what the OEMs can put on new Windows systems for consumers.

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