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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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What is more evil?
By ltcommanderdata on 10/24/2011 11:34:55 PM , Rating: 5
What is more evil, aggressively, perhaps over aggressively, enforcing your legally granted patents or stealing? I thought analysis of Microsoft's patents indicated that they were generally valid and strong. Clearly Android OEMs either believe they are infringing or are very close to be infringing that it'd be too complicated to defend, so they are licensing Microsoft's patents. However, as soon as "don't be evil" is thrown around, Microsoft is in the wrong for defending their intellectual property. Instead are we to believe that allowing other companies to copy/steal Microsoft's work is less evil?

RE: What is more evil?
By bupkus on 10/25/2011 10:10:10 AM , Rating: 2
The way you have set up your argument dictates your conclusion.

We aren't talking about complex source code duplication here; we seem to be talking about user interface similarities not unlike a speedometer with yellow dials.

What really bugs me is the so called developer who fails to develop a product and then sues someone else who succeeds with a product of the same catagory of service because of a similar look at the most superficial level of development.

I don't think anyone posting comments here wants anyone to be screwed out of either recovering their R&D costs or protecting their IP. I do think the issue is what is commonly seen as a broken system.

The argument that corporate officers who do not aggressively pursue all legal avenues of revenue in behalf of their investors are derelict is weighty. Hence, a broken system must be pursued until it is fixed or until such time that the name brand begins to tarnish in the public's eyes. Enter then the spin doctors.

My personal resentment towards Microsoft's Steve Ballmer may be his entire lack of class, but besides that he also seems to depend on these threats of litigation to replace success in the marketplace. If the shareholders get the same payouts why should they care?

If these gains are nagging at your sense of fairness, if you believe innovation should be leading us forward instead of holding us back, maybe you sense something isn't right in our patent system. Should MS be allowed to bleed investment capital even though they failed at marketing their own phones? Is it okey if they just tax the consumers for their failure?

I completely support copy-write laws to protect against counterfeit products as they claim to be of a brand that they aren't. The same with source code that could involve espionage.

The purpose of a patent system was to protect true innovation and their inventors. This to the end of maximizing enterprise and the economic strength of the Republic. Any system that fails this is faulted and requires correction.

Lets not spend our energies venting on each other but instead press our representatives to move to fix what appears to be broken. Unfortunately, the entrenched see value and have interest in either no change or change in the wrong direction.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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