Summary: Microsoft is once again on a special tour wherein it pressures popular Web sites to include patent FUD against Android; Apple’s bullying of bloggers leads to dissent
YESTERDAY we wrote about HTC selling out to Microsoft. While there is not much to add (yet) to what we wrote, there are other opinions worth sharing here. Brian Proffitt writes about the impact of the Bilski case on Microsoft’s many software patents, arguing in part that:
I have often argued that the diversification of Linux has always been one of its big strengths: the richer the distribution ecosystem is, the richer the application set, and so forth.
Today we saw another example of why the decentralized nature of Linux is such a plus, when Microsoft revealed it believes Android infringes on its patents–a stick Microsoft was willing to use when it offered Taiwanese phone maker HTC the carrot of a yet another cross-licensing agreement.
I, for one, would be happy as a clam to see software patent portfolios get blown out of the water and let software companies compete in terms of the things that matter, rather than vague threats and insinuations.
As can be expected, there is a lot of coverage about the HTC deal in the mainstream press. Slashdot links to the press release from Microsoft and this report from IDG. People who bought Android phones from HTC are not happy, to say the least. One of our readers who bought such a phone earlier this year writes:
On a recommendation of a friend I tried Android, specifically with the HTC Hero. I was very impressed, not only at how much I could do, but how quickly I could do it.
So now we see a world where Microsoft does not need to deploy a phone or an OS. They can simply wait and then play a patent card in the hope they can cream royalties of the top of someone else’s success (and I think its agreed that HTC/Android combo is a great product)
Theres a great message to innovators out there: Dont create anything too popular or functional as you may find a hungry pair of Microsoft eyes watching you…..
Microsoft’s chief bully is still spreading FUD by contacting even more publications, not just his drones at CNET (Ina Fried). Here is an example from Engadget
Update: Microsoft deputy general counsel of intellectual property Horacio Gutierrez just sent us a statement saying that the company’s been “talking to several device manufacturers to address our concerns relative to the Android mobile platform.” We’re taking that to mean the same as above: Microsoft isn’t too interested in suing any of its Windows Mobile / Windows Phone partners, so it’s trying to work out patent license deals with those companies in advance of any nastiness. It’s an interesting strategy: patents forbid anyone from making, using, or selling your invention, so Redmond can protect its partners while still leaving open the possibility of a lawsuit with Google itself down the line. In fact, we’d almost say it seems like Microsoft’s agreement with HTC is as much of a threat to Google as Apple’s lawsuit — Redmond’s basically saying you can’t sell an Android device without paying a license fee, and we’d bet those fees are real close to the Windows Phone 7 license fee. Clever, clever — we’ll see how this one plays out. Here’s Horacio’s full statement:
Microsoft has a decades-long record of investment in software platforms. As a result, we have built a significant patent portfolio in this field, and we have a responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to ensure that competitors do not free ride on our innovations. We have also consistently taken a proactive approach to licensing to resolve IP infringement by other companies, and have been talking with several device manufacturers to address our concerns relative to the Android mobile platform.
Why would Microsoft take the initiative to ask publications to add more FUD like that? It’s very telling. They are trying to terrorise and thus to suppress adoption of Android by manufacturers. That’s a racket. We’ve seen Gutierrez doing this before.
“They are trying to terrorise and thus to suppress adoption of Android by manufacturers.”Let’s not forget that Apple is part of the attack on Android through HTC. Apple is quickly becoming more of a bully; we wrote about what it did to Gizmodo in posts such as:
- Apple’s Connection to Abuse of Gizmodo Employee Shown, EFF Fights Back
- Apple’s Hounding of Bloggers Becomes a PR Disaster
- Microsoft’s Phone Business as Dead as Zune, But Apple Too Loses Its Mind
There is a lot of media coverage about it [1, 2] and even a Dilbert cartoon. Pogson, who has been somewhat defensive of Apple so far, had his mind changed by this particular incident and he now considers Apple to be “evil”.
We should not ignore Apple any longer as the enemy of our enemy. Apple is not our friend. Three years ago, I enlightened my brother about the merits of GNU/Linux as compared to MacOS. For schools, there is not much comparison. Apple’s products cost much more than free software and hardware. They do not really work any better either. Schools do not need software whose supplier has made a deal with the devil to be allowed to run on Apple’s hardware.
The sale of Apple’s iPhone and iPad in the US is under threat after the US International Trade Commission initiated a formal investigation into the company for allegedly infringing a patent covering multi-touch technology.
The ITC, which has the power to ban the import and sale of products, said it was responding to a request from the Taiwanese touchscreen maker Elan Microelectronics, which has a patent for technology that detects the simultaneous presence of two or more fingers on a touchscreen or touchpad.
Apple violates many patents and so does Microsoft, which faces over 50 patent lawsuits (as of several months ago). Contrary to what they may say, Apple and Microsoft are not against patent trolls because they invest in the world's biggest patent troll. █