Can We Just Admit That It's Insane When Microsoft Has A 'Licensing Program' For Someone Else's Products?

from the just-saying dept

There have been a string of similar “deals” announced recently (though we do wonder about the details), but Microsoft has announced that Qanta is the latest company to “license” its usage of Android and Chrome. Here’s Microsoft’s quote on the subject:

“We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Quanta, and proud of the continued success of our Android licensing program in resolving IP issues surrounding Android and Chrome devices in the marketplace.”

Let’s sit back and consider the sheer insanity of this entire effort. Microsoft is going around, trying to get lots of companies to buy licenses to Google’s products, when there is simply no evidence that those products infringe on any Microsoft patents. And, notably, Microsoft has never sued Google over those products.

I’d be interested to see if anyone can explain how a system that allows a company like Microsoft to set up a licensing business on someone else’s products without any proven legal basis other than the implied threat that they might sue, is a functioning system? It’s a huge joke.

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Companies: google, microsoft, qanta

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Comments on “Can We Just Admit That It's Insane When Microsoft Has A 'Licensing Program' For Someone Else's Products?”

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143 Comments
AdamR (profile) says:

“Microsoft patents. And, notably, Microsoft has never sued Google over those products”

What’s stranger is Google’s response. Which as far as i have seen been little or nothing. Maybe they have inside information on those deals and see them as no threat and just PR spin from a desperate company.

i also don’t understand the lack of bashing that Microsoft is taking on these types of deals. Microsoft is basically admitting that its products inferior and they can not compete on a level playing even thou the have these so called patents of said technology.

I have this feeling that this is going to come to head at some point in the near future and nobody’s going to like the outcome.

Brad Hubbard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Microsoft isn’t in the habit of suing open source projects, even if they’re backed by commercial entities.

For example, MS never sued Open Office, despite making the assertion it violated 45 patents (many of which may be invalid). Now, if companies like HP started building Open Office-based school machines? Well, MS might step in.

I think this will be tested when/if the Motorola + Google deal closes, if the existing Motorola + MS license deal doesn’t carry forward.

Source for MS on FOSS Patent Violations: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/microsoft-free-and-open-source-software-violates-235-microsoft-patents/436

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Under the wire

I got myself a new android phone last week. I felt the need to rush to do it because I wasn’t willing to have any money go to Microsoft for this shakedown. I had to act while there were still some manufacturers who weren’t paying Microsoft’s protection money.

I’m glad I did. Of course, this might be the last smartphone I buy unless Microsoft is reigned in.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

These are discussions between two commercial businesses. Of course relevant information between them will be held out of the public eye.

And yet it massively impacts the public and innovation. You may not mind getting screwed over. But I care.

Why this site keeps trying to create an issue out of all of licensing negotiations between Microsoft and others eludes me.

You don’t find it odd that a company has a licensing program for someone else’s products?

You must be a lawyer. And not a good one.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Perhaps it is too much to ask, but might you be able to cut back on pejorative comments that add nothing to a discussion? They seem to be cropping up with increasing frequency.

Ha! You have a long history on the site of making some of the most ridiculously pejorative comments around, so, honestly, if you can’t take it, perhaps you should stop dishing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Very well, then. If I have made slanderous comments directed at you personally, please let me know so that I can apologize.

In the meantime, I have never stated anything even remotely along the lines of “you disgust me” and the like.

If I happen to challenge something you write relating to substantive law, it is because I happen to believe that what was said was in error. If I disagree that something is “obvious”, it is because obviousness is an issue that does not admit to casual observation. Etc.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

and who are you that we may judge your past comments? At least we can judge Mike’s. Now that there is anything wrong with being anonymous, but it leaves open the possibility that you don’t practice what you preach. Perhaps you shouldn’t preach standards on others when you refuse to provide evidence that you yourself meet those same standards. It makes it hard for others to take you seriously.

Dan (profile) says:

Why Care?

If Google or the government don’t care, why should I? Google obviously doesn’t feel like it’s loosing any money. Mike often makes the claim [indirectly] that economics isn’t a zero sum game. Here’s an [albeit strange] example. It doesn’t matter how bizarre the licensing is, if the final price to the consumer is competitive.

AdamR (profile) says:

Re: Why Care?

“It doesn’t matter how bizarre the licensing is, if the final price to the consumer is competitive.”

Sorry to say its not, the extra cost will be passed down to the consumer. Why try to innovate if your going to get hit by lawsuits and have to strike massive cross licensing deals with company’s that offer no products or benefits to consumers.

sarvinc (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Why Care?

“Why bother trying to innovate if someone is just going to steal your idea and market it as their own – only cheaper because they invested less in the development of “their” product?”

Because ideas are cheap and execution is actually what’s important. Also, I’m not really sure one can “steal” an idea. I come up with ideas all day long; no one owes me a damn thing.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re: Why Care?

“Why bother trying to innovate if someone is just going to steal your idea and market it as their own…”

In case you missed it by not reading the article properly:

Microsoft is going around, trying to get lots of companies to buy licenses to Google’s products, when there is simply no evidence that those products infringe on any Microsoft patents.”

So who stole whose idea again?

Willton says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Why Care?

Without evidence, the statement ‘there is no evidence’ is the fact. That the execution of licenses suggest otherwise is the opinion.

Incorrect. The fact that you have not been presented with evidence is not the same as there being NO evidence. MS is under no obligation to make the facts underlying its business dealings and dispute resolution available for public consumption. Just because you cannot see it does not mean that it isn’t there.

Willton says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Why Care?

The fact that M$ has been called out to produce alleged evidence and continues failing to do so should be all the evidence you need.

Called out by whom? You? What interest do you have in MS’s dispute with Quanta? What business do you have in demanding that MS produce anything? Why should MS divulge confidential information at your beck and call?

Willton says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Why Care?

OK then, no evidence available. Does that satisfy you?

No, that also implies that no evidence exists. You do not know that. All you know is that no evidences has been provided to you. But, once again, just because you cannot see it does not mean that it does not exist. And last I checked, MS has no duty to disclose evidence of Quanta’s supposed infringement to someone like you.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Why Care?


No, that also implies that no evidence exists.

No, it really doesn’t. If I say “with the money available I can only buy two candy bars” doesn’t imply there isn’t any other money anywhere. Similarly, stating there is no evidence of Microsoft’s patent claims publicly available doesn’t imply there is no evidence at all.

With the absence of available evidence, do you take Microsoft at their word that they have valid patent claims? Or do you treat the claim with skepticism? Consider their financial stake in the situation.

Willton says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Why Care?

With the absence of available evidence, do you take Microsoft at their word that they have valid patent claims? Or do you treat the claim with skepticism? Consider their financial stake in the situation.

I would be skeptical, but then, I have not been presented with any evidence, nor have I done any investigation on my own. I find it unlikely that MS never presented any evidence to Quanta, and I can assure you that Quanta did its own investigation of MS’s patent portfolio against Quanta’s products.

The TechDirt commentariat here has not done any of their own investigation either; they want the investigation done for them and have all the information resulting therefrom presented to them on a silver platter. If such information is not so presented, the TD commentariat presumes the worst of the party they disfavor. I view that as objectionable.

Brad Hubbard (profile) says:

Re: Why Care?

I’ve struggled with this as well. There’s obviously not “no evidence” as Mike claims – otherwise these companies wouldn’t be settling. There might not be strong evidence, or legally tested evidence, but there’s clearly some.

MS isn’t going after tiny devs. These are giant companies with huge legal budgets, they looked at MS’s evidence and decided a settlement that both companies felt was fair.

Would you prefer the Apple approach? Sue in every country, blocking competitors from entering the market, harm consumers, submit fraudulent evidence to courts?

There are so many other issues in the patent system and tech companies being sleazy, why focus on this so hard? Let it go – you don’t need to be angry on the behalf of two companies that are entering into a mutually beneficial business deal.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Why Care?

Actually, there really isn’t any evidence. Merely assertions from Microsoft. When asked for the evidence, or at least some indication of exactly what Microsoft thinks is offending, Microsoft refuses to answer.

The other companies settle because it’s cheaper to kick Microsoft a few bucks per unit than to go to court. Also, it’s more likely they’ll get favorable treatment from Microsoft for other things if they play along.

But evidence? There’s exactly none.

abc gum says:

Re: Re: Why Care?

“There’s obviously not “no evidence” as Mike claims – otherwise these companies wouldn’t be settling.”

This is a sad attempt at rationalization. Amongst its obvious flaws is the fact that evidence or lack thereof has little meaning outside a court of law. The mere threat of an impending law suit can have deleterious effects upon companies both large and small. As past history has shown, one does not need any evidence in order to extract monetary payments.

“These are giant companies with huge legal budgets, they looked at MS’s evidence and decided a settlement that both companies felt was fair.”

Now this is complete BS. I would guess that many four letters words were used to describe this “settlement”.

“Let it go – you don’t need to be angry on the behalf of two companies that are entering into a mutually beneficial business deal.”

And more BS. Customers never get upset about price gouging now do they?

JMT says:

Re: Re: Why Care?

“These are giant companies with huge legal budgets, they looked at MS’s evidence and decided a settlement that both companies felt was fair.”

“Fair” is any interesting word to describe this. There are countless examples where companies have settled because the cost to litigate, even if completely successful, would be much higher than the settlement cost. That’s the whole reason companies like MS do this, they know the legal system is stacked in their favour. “Fair” it ain’t.

If you have any evidence that this case is different, please share it with the class.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Why Care?

“they looked at MS’s evidence and decided a settlement that both companies felt was fair.”

“that are entering into a mutually beneficial business deal.”

One company using a broken legal system to extort money out of another company is not a mutually beneficial ‘agreement’.

That’s almost like saying, if someone was taken for ransom and asked someone else for a million dollars to return that person back, the paying of the ransom in return for the person is a mutually beneficial agreement because both parties decided on a settlement that they both thought was fair. No it’s not. Not all agreements are necessarily mutually beneficial or fair.

“Would you prefer the Apple approach? Sue in every country, blocking competitors from entering the market, harm consumers, submit fraudulent evidence to courts?”

Two wrongs make a right?

When our legal system is misused to facilitate one sided, non-mutually beneficial agreements, then it becomes everyone’s business.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Why Care?

If Google or the government don’t care, why should I? Google obviously doesn’t feel like it’s loosing any money. Mike often makes the claim [indirectly] that economics isn’t a zero sum game. Here’s an [albeit strange] example. It doesn’t matter how bizarre the licensing is, if the final price to the consumer is competitive.

But it’s not. You now have monopoly rents included in the equation, which jacks up the consumer price at no societal benefit. Why would you ever support such a system?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Why Care?

monopoly or Monopoly? Are you talking about the game or a company that has cornered the market? Microsoft is far from a monopoly in the phone OS market. In fact, they are a very small player in terms of market share (2% of the market according to Gartner Research).

Furthermore, if Google had a rock-solid legal standing why haven’t they acted to protect their customers? I think we all know the answer to that – Microsoft most likely does own patents which are infringed upon by the Android platform.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Why Care?

Monopoly do not necessarily exist on a convenient and easy to understand market levels like ‘complete phone OS.’ In this case it’s referring to having a monopoly over the functionality supposedly covered by the patents. Next time try searching for phrases you don’t understand on google before responding.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why Care?

[voiceover voice]Straw man tactics…When you can’t argue the facts nitpick the details[/voiceover voice]
Companies cross-license techonolgy all the time, Google should have cross-licensed with Microsoft before releasing Android. By not doing so they may have exposed their customers (phone manufacturers) to potential litigation.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Why Care?

Doesn’t matter if Microsoft doesn’t have a monopoly in the phone OS market, they have a monopoly in the OS market. They’re using the power they gained as a monopoly to scare smaller companies into paying for something Microsoft doesn’t own.

Think about it. If a representative came up to you and said you owe them $1000 and if you don’t pay they’re going to sue you for millions. You know they don’t have a case, but you do know they have the money and lawyers to bankrupt you proving it. Then the nice Microsoft man says that he’ll settle for only $500. What would you do? Pray to god you can get it thrown out before the bank forecloses on your house?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why Care?

You’re getting the monopoly wrong, and so is the AC you’re replying to. The monopoly is the [supposed] patents. MS has patents, so they extort the monopoly rents on those patents. It doesn’t matter if they have 0 or 100% OS or mobile OS market share, they [supposedly] have a patent, which grants them government granted monopoly control over that [supposed] patent. What they are using is the fear of costly litigation against a government backed monopoly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why Care?

No, you’re getting it wrong. A patent is not a monopoly, the government frequently requires patent holders to grant licenses to technology specifically to prevent monopoly situations. In this case, Microsoft is not trying to get companies to stop manufacturing phones, they are requesting licensing fees for potentially infringing upon their patents.

Willton says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Why Care?

Why? We have literally no evidence from MS of where Android infringes on their patents. Moreover, last time I checked, potentially infringing wasn’t against the law. Extortion (as this appears to be) is.

What does it matter what we have or don’t have? MS is not asserting an infringement claim against you. Just because evidence of infringement is not being made explicitly clear to the general public does not mean that such evidence does not exist. It is entirely possible that if there is such evidence, Qanta does not want it public either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Why Care?

That’s another problem with our patent system. I thought patents are supposed to be about transparency. Yet here we have M$ potentially abusing the patent system with no public oversight.

When the government is used to grant a monopoly privilege, the public should have the right to know how those laws are being used to help us better assess the utility of those laws and any changes that might need to be made. Could it be that M$ is hiding these patents from the public because it knows that it either doesn’t have a strong case or that it’s suing over ridiculous patents and that its actions are not publicly beneficial or desirable? M$ should not be allowed to hide which patents it’s using, especially since patents are supposed to be about public transparency and since patents are a government granted monopoly.

If M$ doesn’t like it, then they can choose not to use our legal system to exercise its monopoly privileges.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Why Care?

I also think this is tribute to how obscure some of these patents are and the fact that patents are often unclear. Why can’t we simply and easily infer what patents are being used here based on comparing the product with the patents. Patents are supposed to help the public better build future products, but if no one can even connect the patent to the product (because the patent is so general and ambiguous and can be interpreted like most alleged prophecy, to cover anything and everything) then how are these patents useful? If the public can’t even connect any of these patents to any of the products that are based on them, then those patents are effectively useless in providing for transparency and helping us create better designs.

Wasn’t a patent supposed to assist us in better knowing how a product is designed and providing for transparency? All the public has here is that, “This awesome and revolutionary new computer mouse here violates some patents somewhere, nobody really knows which patents it violates”. How does that provide us for transparency in how to build this awesome new mouse? Wasn’t that the whole purpose of the patent system? So that when a company releases a product, the public gets to know how that product is built and so that the information required to build the product doesn’t remain a secret? We don’t even have that. All we have is, look, there are a billion patents out there and this product infringes on some of them. Which tells us nothing about how that product was made. It doesn’t help future generations out much and it provides for very little transparency.

Willton says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Why Care?

MS is not hiding its patents. All patents are public. You are free to look up every patent that MS owns on Google Patents or on the USPTO’s website. You can even do keyword searches to find which of MS’s patents pertain to the technical subject matter of your choosing.

The only thing that MS is concealing is its opinion as to which of its patents MS believes that Quanta infringes, and the only party that can really force MS to make that opinion public is Quanta. Until MS files a complaint in court, you have no basis for making MS divulge its opinion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Why Care?

“MS is not hiding its patents.”

Which isn’t the argument being made.

“All patents are public.”

Which does no one any favors beyond telling them that you can’t do x.

“You can even do keyword searches to find which of MS’s patents pertain to the technical subject matter of your choosing.”

Which misses the point. All that is is a list of things that others can’t do. It doesn’t tell us how any of anyone’s products were made. It provides for no product transparency, it only provides for a list of things that others can’t do. It’s much different than the patent system of 100 years ago, where the product that the patent covered was known. Now it’s simply turned into a list of things that you can’t do and they’re not tied to any product in particular. The inter-workings of a product are still kept secret, Microsoft gets both a bunch of government sanctioned monopolies without even disclosing to the public how any of its products work.

“The only thing that MS is concealing is its opinion as to which of its patents MS believes that Quanta infringes”

Which doesn’t do the public any good. It provides for no product transparency. They are taking from the public while giving us absolutely nothing in return.

“and the only party that can really force MS to make that opinion public is Quanta.”

Which is why the law needs to change.

“Until MS files a complaint in court, you have no basis for making MS divulge its opinion.”

Which, again, is why the law needs to change.

Willton says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Why Care?

“All patents are public.”

Which does no one any favors beyond telling them that you can’t do x.

Something tells me that you’ve never actually read the disclosure of a patent. I can assure you that patents explain far more than what you claim. Read one sometime.

Which misses the point. All that is is a list of things that others can’t do. It doesn’t tell us how any of anyone’s products were made. It provides for no product transparency, it only provides for a list of things that others can’t do.

No? You sure about that? Did you actually read the disclosure of any of MS’s patents? They’re free to read if you like; all it costs you is time. Perhaps you would think differently if you actually had read the contents of a patent.

It’s much different than the patent system of 100 years ago, where the product that the patent covered was known.

If you’re talking about mechanical inventions, I can assure you that patents to such inventions still exist and are being prosecuted today (medical devices being a huge field of such inventions). So this clearly isn’t a problem with how patents applications are drafted now compared to the past. It appears to be a problem with the level of technical understanding one must have in order to understand patents directed to computer processes and systems, as they are not easily broken down into pretty little pictures.

“The only thing that MS is concealing is its opinion as to which of its patents MS believes that Quanta infringes”

Which doesn’t do the public any good. It provides for no product transparency. They are taking from the public while giving us absolutely nothing in return.

Of course it doesn’t do the public any good. But then again, it’s also not really the public’s business to know. MS’s opinion as to whether Quanta infringes its patent portfolio is merely that: their privately held opinion. Until MS decides to use public resources (i.e., the court system) to resolve its dispute with Quanta, the public does not have a legitimate interest in finding out MS’s opinions regarding its patent portfolio.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Why Care?

“Just because evidence of infringement is not being made explicitly clear to the general public”

Not making this explicitly clear to the general public undermines part of the purpose of having patents. Part of the purpose, that I’ve seen IP maximists here harp on, is the need for product transparency in providing the public with valuable information on how a product is made. It’s to incentivize companies not to keep their valuable secrets hidden from the public. We don’t have that here.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Why Care?

M$ basically wants to have their cake and eat it too. They want to exercise a government granted monopoly privilege without providing the public with the public information that those privileges are supposed to provide the public with. You can’t have it both ways. If you want to exercise a publicly granted monopoly privilege, you should be publicly transparent in how those privileges are being exercised. The public should know how they’re being exercised, it’s our right. That means no private, behind closed door agreements and dealings and secretive agreements whenever exercising a publicly granted monopoly privilege.

Willton says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Why Care?

Not making this explicitly clear to the general public undermines part of the purpose of having patents. Part of the purpose, that I’ve seen IP maximists here harp on, is the need for product transparency in providing the public with valuable information on how a product is made. It’s to incentivize companies not to keep their valuable secrets hidden from the public. We don’t have that here.

How do we not have that here? All of MS’s patents are available to be read on the USPTO’s website and on other sites such as Google Patents. You are free to look them up at your leisure. The only thing keeping you from finding out what technology MS developed and patented is your own laziness.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Why Care?

“All of MS’s patents are available to be read on the USPTO’s website and on other sites such as Google Patents.”

That’s just a list of things that others can’t independently invent without being sued. and many of those patents can be very broadly interpreted to cover a lot of things. That doesn’t do anyone any favors. It’s useless and provides engineers with nothing of value. It’s only good for lawyers.

“The only thing keeping you from finding out what technology MS developed and patented is your own laziness.”

Since most patents never make it to market, that’s not a list of technology that M$ developed and patented. That’s just a list of things that M$ can prevent others from making. The public has no assurance that M$ has developed any of what it patented. It doesn’t tell us how any of Microsoft’s products are made, all it tells us is that this is a list of things that Microsoft can stop others from making. That’s not helpful and it provides for no product transparency. It doesn’t serve the purpose of what patents were allegedly supposed to do, to tell us how a product is made. We can look at any of Microsoft’s products and still have no clue how any of it is made. All we know is that it might be covered by one or more of Microsoft’s patents. That’s not helpful and that defeats part of the purpose of having patents. Future generations are left with nothing useful. They can look at past products and not know how they were made.

We need a if you don’t use it, you lose it patent clause. If your patent isn’t being used for something, then you lose the patent. and you must publicly specify what your patent is being used for and how. Patents are supposed to be about product transparency, they’re supposed to tell us how a product works. They’re not doing that. They’ve turned into a method of tyranny, only a way to tell others what products they can’t make. That doesn’t help anyone beyond the patent holder and the lawyers and only a naive fool would think otherwise. In order to have a monopoly on something, you must disclose to others that which you have a monopoly on (and Microsoft is arguably not even doing that here). That’s just a way to tell others what not to do by disclosing to them what they can’t do. That’s not a form of product transparency, that’s a form of dictatorship. Little different than what a dictator of a country does. It does no one any favors.

Willton says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Why Care?

Since most patents never make it to market, that’s not a list of technology that M$ developed and patented. That’s just a list of things that M$ can prevent others from making. The public has no assurance that M$ has developed any of what it patented. It doesn’t tell us how any of Microsoft’s products are made, all it tells us is that this is a list of things that Microsoft can stop others from making. That’s not helpful and it provides for no product transparency. It doesn’t serve the purpose of what patents were allegedly supposed to do, to tell us how a product is made. We can look at any of Microsoft’s products and still have no clue how any of it is made. All we know is that it might be covered by one or more of Microsoft’s patents. That’s not helpful and that defeats part of the purpose of having patents. Future generations are left with nothing useful. They can look at past products and not know how they were made.

You are free to correct me if I’m wrong, but I imagine most of MS’s patents are directed toward methods, processes and systems, not products. For instance, linked below is a patent owned by MS that is directed to “A method for displaying electronic mail messages in a conversation grouping”. Have a look:

http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=FsTPAAAAEBAJ

Your primary complaint appears to be that the patents owned by MS do not explain how to make MS’s products. If so, perhaps you should explain what kind of information you are looking for that is not already disclosed in the patent linked above.

I will tell you this much. Patents are not about product transparency; they are about invention transparency. All a patent has to do is describe the invention in sufficient detail to allow a person having ordinary skill in the art to make and use it. And quite frankly, I don’t understand why anything more than that is necessary. If a particular invention embodies only a small portion of a particular product, I don’t see why a patentee should have to explain how the entire product is made unless such explanation is necessary in order to make and/or use the particular invention.

techflaws.org (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Why Care?

Qanta does not want it public either.

Bulls***. Of course M$’s deal includes Qanta signing an NDA not to talk about it so they can keep on their scheme letting simple-minded people like you think that there actually must be something to their allegations.

How naive can you be (given their track record)?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Why Care?

It’s like the SCO fiasco (greatly simplified)…

SCO: “Linux has infringed on thousands of lines of code, give us money”
IBM: “Erm, prove it in court”

(years of discovery enabling MS and others to spread FUD about OSS and Linux, and preventing any opportunity to “fix” what might have been infringing)

SCO: “Erm, did we say thousands? Here’s 40 lines of code, most of which aren’t copyrightable”
Novell: “Oh, and even if Linux had been infringing, those copyrights weren’t yours anyway”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Why Care?

“Furthermore, if Google had a rock-solid legal standing why haven’t they acted to protect their customers?”

Litigation is expensive. and even if Google doesn’t have a solid legal standing, that’s irrelevant here since it is partly the legal (patent) system itself that is being criticized and questioned here.

“I think we all know the answer to that “

Litigation is expensive.

“Microsoft most likely does own patents which are infringed upon by the Android platform.”

and one thing we often complain about is the fact that the USPTO passes a bunch of ridiculous patents that it should not. So even if M$ owns such patents, what’s your point? Many of those patents should likely be invalidated and should have never been issued in the first place. and a court should likely not enforce many of those patents (now the question of whether or not a court will is a different question).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why Care?

You THINK you would be happier without patents but the world would be much different today if patents didn’t exist.

The mentality that people should invest time and effort into developing new technology “for the good of society” is not reality. The truth is that publicly traded companies which spend hundreds of billions each year on R&D would not do so without IP protection. Without patents the innovation well would quickly dry up.

Cures for innumerable diseases would never have been developed, wireless phones would not exist, digital cameras would never have been developed, etc… You were probably taught that academic research is the holy grail of innovation, but the vast majority of technological advancements occur in the business world.

Why would a business invest time and money to develop some new technology that anyone can pick up (without spending any money or time) and undercut the price? There would be no incentive for investment because there would be no protection from theft of the techonology.

We can argue the details, such as the “obviousness” test, but you cannot with a straight face argue that the world would be much less advanced without IP protection.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why Care?

“You THINK you would be happier without patents”

There is no good reason for me to think otherwise.

“but the world would be much different today if patents didn’t exist. “

Sure, it would be a much better place.

“The mentality that people should invest time and effort into developing new technology “for the good of society” is not reality.”

The mentality that patents are needed is not reality and it’s not evidenced. Much of the reason that the technology sector flourished, for example, is exactly because patents weren’t very well enforced in this sector. For example, see

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ka4L0jGF_-Q

The U.S. pharma industry, OTOH, has had patents for the longest and it’s one of the least, if not the least, innovative industries, partly because of the fact that patents are so deeply engraved in it.

“The truth is that publicly traded companies which spend hundreds of billions each year on R&D would not do so without IP protection.”

That’s just your, mostly unsubstantiated, opinion.

“Without patents the innovation well would quickly dry up.”

No evidence behind this and most of the evidence suggests otherwise. For example see

http://www.dklevine.com/general/intellectual/against.htm

“Cures for innumerable diseases would never have been developed, wireless phones would not exist, digital cameras would never have been developed, etc…”

Provide evidence that none of this would have been developed without patents. If you want to make a claim, the burden is on you to substantiate.

“You were probably taught that academic research is the holy grail of innovation, but the vast majority of technological advancements occur in the business world.”

Which says nothing about the utility of patents.

“Why would a business invest time and money to develop some new technology that anyone can pick up (without spending any money or time) and undercut the price?”

This is called a false dilemma. The fact that you must use poor logic to argue your position only emphasizes the weaknesses in your position.

“There would be no incentive for investment because there would be no protection from theft of the techonology.”

Except plenty of innovation has occurred in the past without IP and it will continue without it. The fact is that there is little to no evidence to suggest that IP encourages innovation, almost all of the evidence suggests otherwise. So you’re wrong and your unsubstantiated false dilemma is wrong.

“We can argue the details, such as the “obviousness” test, but you cannot with a straight face argue that the world would be much less advanced without IP protection.”

I am arguing that, and I have the evidence on my side.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Why Care?

“Why would a business invest time and money to develop some new technology that anyone can pick up (without spending any money or time) and undercut the price?”

If the business doesn’t innovate, other businesses will. The business knows it. and those other businesses will innovate them out of the market. Businesses get a first mover advantage by being the first to market and innovating again before your competitors copy you. and you assume that copying is easy and cheap this is not always the case. If something is easy enough to copy then it’s often easy enough to develop in the first place.

and patents don’t have R&D value since applying for a patent after spending money on R&D runs you the risk that you won’t be granted the patent after the fact (ie: someone else may already have a similar patent or they may apply before you) and hence you can get sued by someone else with a similar patent. So what companies do is they simply acquire as many patents as they can to avoid getting sued with those patents. That does nothing to contribute to innovation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why Care?

It doesn’t matter if the final price is ‘competitive’ if it’s higher or doesn’t buy as much functionality as it could otherwise. Let’s not forget that this licensing system is heavily biased toward incumbent hardware manufacturers. I wouldn’t want to be a new smartphone builder with Android phones with Microsoft and Apple lurking around every corner. So this creates very real barriers to entry into the market that are significant beyond mere current pricing.

out_of_the_blue says:

Microsoft's "business model" always been tax computer users.

Not exactly news. — It’s not this or that insane practice that’s the problem, it’s “capitalism”, where nothing matters except money and power. Microsoft and especially Bill Gates profited more from the computer industry than ALL the scientists, academicians, engineers, and technicians who built it did. The “system” of unlimited rewards for being in right spot at right time to cash in is the overarching insanity. You’re just chipping around the edges, as usual, Mike.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Microsoft's "business model" always been tax computer users.

Why is this not news? I am myself very interested to learn about how and why Company A is demanding license money from Companies B-Z for Product Y, when Company A doesn’t actually own or control Product Y.
The scientists and whatnot who built Windows and all the other Microsoft products were employees of Microsoft. Get it? In exchange for a salary as well as benefits/perks if any, they built products for Microsoft. So what if Bill Gates profited more?
As for unlimited rewards…isn’t that the problem with copyright? Like how Harper Lee still gets paid for work she did in the 1960’s (FYI, I’m talking about the sole book she’s written, To Kill a Mockingbird).

anonymous says:

if there is any evidence, why isn’t it submitted? i think this is just Microsuck doing it’s usual thing. ripping people off for as much money as possible, for giving as little (if anything) as possible.
as for the ‘two companies that are entering into a mutually beneficial business deal’. nothing wrong with that at all, as long as the company selling something is legally able to do so. if Microsuck are allowed to do so, where is their evidence of that?

amber says:

The us legal systems functions perfectly, for those that define justice as ‘use legal tools to do things that are illegal, immoral, and unethical. There always will be a number of judges in the us — especially on the supreme court that are bought and paid for, to rule in favour of what generates the most cash to lawyers first, and plaintiffs secondly. The law, ethics, morals, and justice are completely irrelevent in the united states court system.

What Google is doing, is starting to detonate the equivalant of several thousand nukes, in the surreal world of patents. When they finish, if your patents are not physical objects, about a million of them will be worth as much as one Vietnamese dhong. If the patents are for physical objects, they will be worth about a dhong each.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I get this feeling too. It seems to me that Google is trying to undermine the patent system credibility by taking the flaws to the mainstream media. Motorola’s acquisition might have been the masterpiece in this process, at least it felt that way. Not that they will be effectively using Motorola’s patent portfolio to sue, I think it was yet another move to get the patent system down in pieces and force its reform.

If they succeed many companies will be in deep trouble and panic. And I’ll become a Google fanboy.

Renee Marie Jones says:

Microsoft "Licensing" of Google's Products

Ya. It is sick. We have a system where companies can run a legal protection racket by threatening to sue. This is what happens when companies are allowed to file baseless lawsuits, and where innocent parties can be forced to pay huge legal fees to defend against baseless accusations.

There needs to be a way to force an accuser to demonstrate that he has a legitimate claim before filing lawsuits, and that the lawsuit is aimed at the party actually committed the act. For example, the SCO case should have been thrown out the first time they refused to answer the question “where is the infringing code.” In the case of Microsoft, if they can’t point to a specific patent, and a specific part of Android that violates that patent, then they should be charged with running a protection racket and jailed.

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Microsoft "Licensing" of Google's Products

We need “loser pays lower of two legal fees”. In this case, if a large company sues an individual or small company and the defendant is successful, they get their legal fees back.

If an individual or small company sues and is wrong, they have to pay their legal fees again to the large company. It doesn’t bankrupt them, but they will certainly think twice about filing frivolous lawsuits when it costs them double legal fees.

Willton says:

Re: Re: Microsoft "Licensing" of Google's Products

We need “loser pays lower of two legal fees”. In this case, if a large company sues an individual or small company and the defendant is successful, they get their legal fees back.

If an individual or small company sues and is wrong, they have to pay their legal fees again to the large company. It doesn’t bankrupt them, but they will certainly think twice about filing frivolous lawsuits when it costs them double legal fees.

First of all, the system already sanctions plaintiffs for bringing frivolous lawsuits by making them pay the defendant’s attorney’s fees. The problem is that you clearly have a much looser definition of “frivolous” than the legal community does. Second, a “loser pays” system will place a chilling effect on plaintiffs who have legitimate legal claims against tortfeasors. That, in my view, is bad policy.

Matt N (profile) says:

It’s important to consider that, in all likelihood, this “license” was granted for no money. Chances are that Microsoft is the one who asked Quanta to take the “license” in exchange for a discount on other products or services. Microsoft would do this so they could publicize it and then try to legitimize the licensing scheme.

BoredSysAdmin (profile) says:

FAT

Unless someone tells me otherwise, I’m going to assume it’s same old issue. None-MS OS devices using some soft of FAT emulation to connect to PC (Mass-storage), but depite the fact FAT file system is “ancient” it’s still not free and guess who the owner is 😉

Any device maker who uses Mass-Storage is liable to pay MS unless we user say – enough – we are ready to install some drivers to our PC and the hell with MS patented fat

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

The Toddler?s Creed

?If I want it, it?s mine.
If I give it to you & I change my mind later, it?s mine.
If I can take it away from you, it?s mine.
If I had it a little while ago, it?s mine.
If it?s mine, it will never belong to anybody else, no matter what.
If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine.
If it looks like mine, it is mine.? Anon

http://edukidsinc.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/290/

Being selfish and egotistic is a normal part of toddler development. You just need to lock up the important and delicate stuff so they don’t break it.

al says:

MS Agreements

1. We don’t know ANYTHING about the agreements. I doubt anyone would sign if the terms were draconian.
2. I see these agreements as a way for some mfrs to make some money, while the Android stuff drags thru the courts.
3. We don’t have ANY info on communications between Google and the mfrs in question.
Until or if we get more info, it’s useless to speculate. We know MS likes to do their dirty work thru proxies. They prefer FUD to an actual court showdown. There must be a reason why they haven’t gone after Google directly. Perhaps, after SCO, and after Oracle, things will calm down a little.

crade (profile) says:

Re: MS Agreements

1. Yeah we do. We know they are agreements to android software. The agreements aren’t “draconian”, they are simple “we won’t make your life hell if you give us a paltry 50$ and let us tell everyone it was for our patents”

2. If they were decent, they would be for microsoft software.
3. We don’t need to speculate. Microsoft is charging for stuff other people made.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: MS Agreements

People don’t need to know the details when they know the history of a company or individual.

Microsoft leader is not known to be a guy who let go of things and he already told everyone that he doesn’t like Google, they dropped things against FOSS for some reason and claim that Google and Apple are now their first priorities, you also forget how Microsoft got to the top, they are extremelly skilled in the art of forcing others to comply, remember Dell?

This is a nightmare, it is the tool that will be used to keep everyone out of the market place and that includes the little guy eventually.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: MS Agreements

People seem to think this is about 2 giant corps, it is not, it is about the tools they are using to fend off each other if they can do that to each other imagine what they could do to the little guy.

Microsoft just turned into collection agencies, but different from them they only need to pay themselves.

It is crazy that those who work need to pay others that don’t.

delabole (profile) says:

I know something about cellphone patents having been in a semiconductor business that built chips for cellphones. So why doesn’t MS sue Google?

1. Because the patents probably pertain to cellphones (or at least computing devices). So Android doesn’t violate those patents because it is an operating system not a cellphone. Yes, a cellphone running Android might, but that is different. MS could do a deal with Google (if Google was willing) and then let them sublicense the Android licensees but…

2. You always go after the last part of the chain. It is a lot easier to get $1 from a guy selling a $200 smart phone than from a person building a $5 chip or licensing a $0 operating system. Even chips we built that violated patents only did so once in a phone (after all we never powered them up) but more to the point, why go after us when you could go after the people using the chips who have a much higher priced device.

whitebrow (profile) says:

Re: Re:

http://www.informationweek.com/news/199600443

“So the whole, ‘We have a list and we’re not telling you,’ itself should tell you something,” Torvalds said of Microsoft’s stance in the Fortune story. And for good measure, he added: “Don’t you think that if Microsoft actually had some really foolproof patent, they’d just tell us and go, ‘nyaah, nyaah, nyaah!'”

Anonymous Coward says:

So, basically, the argument that patents provide for product transparency is gone. Companies can still obtain government sanctioned monopolies without disclosing to the public how any of their products actually work. They get to have their cake and eat it too. Why disclose to the public how your product works to gain a government established monopoly when you can just gain that monopoly without disclosing anything more about your product?

mhenriday (profile) says:

Functioning system ?

?I’d be interested to see if anyone can explain how a system that allows a company like Microsoft to set up a licensing business on someone else’s products without any proven legal basis other than the implied threat that they might sue, is a functioning system?? Seems to function for Microsoft, does it not ? The question is not whether a system functions, but for whom. Pecuniam non olet….

Henri

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