Print 76 comment(s) - last by acer905.. on Nov 2 at 12:43 PM

Microsoft finds itself on the defensive for once

Somewhere in Germany sit stocks of handsets from Google Inc. (GOOG) subsidiary Motorola Mobility.  The handsets were seized by German authorities after the courts found that the onboard mobile operating system likely violated user interface and file system patents owned by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) makers of the ubiquitous Windows operating system.  Soon the handsets may be destroyed.

But after preying on newcomers to the operating system world like Google's Android handset partners with a pay-or-be-sued approach, Microsoft finds itself in the crosshairs of a major mobile suit that could compromise its most critical platform launch -- the Windows 8/Windows Phone 8 rollout.

The case lands in an unusual jurisdiction -- U.S. District Court for the District of Maine  -- far from Microsoft's home on the West Coast.  The suit alleges Microsoft "stole" the concept Live Tiles, which the plaintiffs claim they invented in 2000 and received a patent for in 2004, with U.S. Patent 6,724,403.

Customizable Live Tiles in Windows Phone 8

The owners founded a startup named SurfCast.  They describe it, writing:

SurfCast designs Operating System technology and has four issued patents with additional applications pending.

SurfCast designed a new concept referred to as 'Tiles'.

Tiles can be thought of as dynamically updating icons. A Tile is different from an icon because it can be both selectable and live -- containing refreshed content that provides a real-time or near-real-time view of the underlying information.

Tiles can provide dynamic bookmarking -- an at-a-glance view of the current status of the program, file, or content associated with it.

Tiles enable people to have all their content, applications, and resources, regardless of whether on their mobile device, tablet, computer, or in their Cloud -- visualized persistently -- dynamically updating.

It's hard to deny Microsoft's Live Tiles narrowly mirror the technology described in SurfStar's patents, which came out before the Live Tiles landed as part of the "Metro UI" in Windows Phone's 2009 launch.

SurfStar v. Microsoft
SurfStar's Live Tiles (left) are uncannily like Microsoft's Live Tiles (right).

Microsoft appears to have known for some time about SurfStar's IP, so this suit shouldn't come as a big surprise.  The electronics giant in 2005 tried to patent Live Tiles with U.S. Patent 7,933,632.  The patent was finally granted in 2011, but only after Microsoft cited SurfStar's "relevant prior art".

The SurfStar suit targets "Windows Phone, Microsoft Surface with the Windows RT Operating System, Microsoft Windows RT, Microsoft Windows 8, Microsoft Windows 8 Pro, and Microsoft Windows 8 Enterprise Operating System" -- pretty much all of Microsoft's next-gen operating system platform. SurfStar also suggest that devices with Windows 8 or Windows 8 apps that use animated Live Tiles may also be in infringement and potentially liable for future damages.

SurfStar asks the court to force Microsoft to "account and pay to SurfCast all damages caused to SurfCast by reason of Microsoft’s patent infringement."

On the surface (no pun intended) it appears that SurfStar has a compelling and valid case, but it's always hard to pick out savvy trolls from earnest inventors.  Either way, the turn of events is certainly highly ironic, given the hell Microsoft has put Android through in terms of aggressive intellectual property threats and litigation.

Source: Prior Smart

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Karma's a $$#@*
By Reclaimer77 on 10/31/2012 3:39:04 PM , Rating: 2
Oh I agree with you there, it's not "as bad". But MS definitely isn't an outside observer to this software patent mess. And let's not forget, they partnered with Apple to "share" patents. Which put them in a position to be free from litigation from Apple, while simultaneously bullying the other players.

RE: Karma's a $$#@*
By trooper11 on 10/31/2012 3:44:13 PM , Rating: 2

I agree, MS isn't clean in this, but the reality is that I can't say any of these companies are clean. They have all shown themselves to be less than kind over the years. So maybe its not so much that the companies are evil, but they all try to get away with as much as possible to get an edge. When its your turn to get caught, you take the punishment.

So if the claim is real and can be backed up in court, then it should be pursued. If it turns out to be baseless, I don't want to see MS or anyone else get hammered because of it.

RE: Karma's a $$#@*
By trooper11 on 10/31/2012 3:45:31 PM , Rating: 4
Oh and I thought it was funny that the article mentioned that MS is on the defensive for once. If you have been following MS for any amount of time, you would know they are on the defensive nearly constantly.

RE: Karma's a $$#@*
By StevoLincolnite on 10/31/2012 4:46:17 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, MS isn't clean in this, but the reality is that I can't say any of these companies are clean. They have all shown themselves to be less than kind over the years.

Of course. They're companies.
Their main goal and objective is to create products so you hand over your money, they don't actually care about the well being of each individual on mother earth.

However, some companies are more aggressive with their behavior than others, Microsoft of late has been less aggressive in terms of litigation, Apple is on the opposite side of the spectrum.
Microsoft would rather license it's I.P to profit from it rather than take everyone to court.

RE: Karma's a $$#@*
By RufusM on 11/1/2012 12:19:43 PM , Rating: 2
This is why software design patents need to go away. SurfCast waiting until Microsoft launched a long line of products then they jump in to sue; to maximize potential harm to Microsoft.

Updating tiles is essentially a dynamic icon. They've been around for a long time. Windows XP had a dynamic icon on its login screen that would tell me the number of unread emails. This is one example and I'm sure I could find many more. Adding to that, I'm sure Microsoft's implementation is completely different from SurfCast's. Software is written in a language and, like a book, should be copyrighted not patented!

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

Latest Headlines
Inspiron Laptops & 2-in-1 PCs
September 25, 2016, 9:00 AM
The Samsung Galaxy S7
September 14, 2016, 6:00 AM
Apple Watch 2 – Coming September 7th
September 3, 2016, 6:30 AM
Apple says “See you on the 7th.”
September 1, 2016, 6:30 AM

Most Popular ArticlesAre you ready for this ? HyperDrive Aircraft
September 24, 2016, 9:29 AM
Leaked – Samsung S8 is a Dream and a Dream 2
September 25, 2016, 8:00 AM
Inspiron Laptops & 2-in-1 PCs
September 25, 2016, 9:00 AM
Snapchat’s New Sunglasses are a Spectacle – No Pun Intended
September 24, 2016, 9:02 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki