Print 25 comment(s) - last by BigEdMan.. on Feb 26 at 4:03 AM

Licensing rates were not disclosed

Remember Nikon Corp.'s (TYO:7731) Android-powered smart cameras like the Coolpix S800c?  Well it appears that adding Google Inc.'s (GOOG) free operating system isn't going to be quite so free -- Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has successfully shaken down the Japanese camera maker for a licensing fee.

Most of the top Android phonemakers -- including HTC Corp. (TPE:2498and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) -- pay licensing fees ranging from $10 to $15 per unit to Microsoft.  Now it appears that the camera makers will be following in suit.  (Samsung presumably pays Microsoft a licensing fee on its "Galaxy" Android smartcameras).

In a press release Microsoft gloats:

The patent agreement is another example of the important role intellectual property (IP) plays in ensuring a healthy and vibrant IT ecosystem. Since Microsoft launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, the company has entered into more than 1,100 licensing agreements and continues to develop programs that make it possible for customers, partners and competitors to access its IP portfolio. The program was developed to open access to Microsoft’s significant R&D investments and its growing, broad patent and IP portfolio. Microsoft’s specific patent licensing program for Android device makers has resulted in signed license agreements with numerous companies including Samsung, LG, HTC, Acer and Barnes & Noble.

Nikon Coolpix S800c

The licensing agreement is a cautionary tale to other camera makers.  Incorporating a smartphone-like OS into your point and shoot camera may be appealing, but it won't be free -- you'll have to pay the Microsoft tax.

Source: Microsoft

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RE: Doing it Right
By ResStellarum on 2/23/2013 10:52:58 AM , Rating: 3
This is the one thing that I love about MS that I hate about Apple.

You love Microsoft for taxing something that's free?

MS creates avenues to allow other companies to use their IP at a relatively low price point.

Microsoft's supposed IP all revolves around the ubiquitous FAT, an over a decade old file system layout, one which I might hasten to add has prior art. Specifically, Linus Torvalds described a long/short file name system long before Microsoft patented it.

but I would much rather live in a world where if you want to do something interesting you can do it, rather than the apple world where creativity is locked up in a bottle that is never to be touched.

Except that by slapping the Microsoft tax on other systems, it actually stops smaller startups from using them to innovate. The "Microsoft Tax" is unfortunately spreading everywhere Microsoft feels threatened. First it was OEM's who had to pay a fee to Microsoft even if alternative OS's like GNU/Linux were installed on a PC, now it's Android. Microsoft can't compete with "free", so it has to raise of the price of "free" using dubious patents. That's a clear abuse of the patent system to suppress competition.

RE: Doing it Right
By FaaR on 2/24/13, Rating: 0
RE: Doing it Right
By JPForums on 2/25/2013 11:05:16 AM , Rating: 3
MS never invented either digital cameras, portable computing devices or touchscreens, but somehow they deserve a patent for combining these already-existing elements?
No, they don't have a patent for combining these already existing elements. You're confusing Microsoft with Apple. They have what appears to be a patent on a three decade old (guesstimate) piece of technology that happens to be implemented in Android. While the willingness of companies like Samsung to pay Microsoft's fee suggests the patent is more valid than the one's that Samsung is contesting with Apple, I still have to wonder how long a patent can be used to extract money out of the competition.

While the rest of you post seems a little extreme, I do agree that it would be effective. Though, I think I'd rather keep the ones willing to immediately desist and play by the rules than risk another set of blatant extortionist take over in place of the old.

Of course, the real problem is the fact that this kind of abuse is perfectly legal. The patent system need not go away, but stricter definitions for what is considered innovative, increasing fees for repeated submitals, and limitations on both the life of the patent and the length of time between when a product is released and a corresponding lawsuit can be filed would probably help. Better to fix the engine than to tape up the leak.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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