Summary: Microsoft is trying to make sellers of Android phones panic just shortly before its embarrassing competitor, Vista Phone 7 [sic], arrives at the market
IT IS no longer news that Microsoft is suing the last large seller of Android phones for not paying Microsoft for Linux. The FFII calls it:
New #Android stunt, start of #swpat wars or the last defense?
David Sugar from GNU Telephony alleges that Microsoft “can use the mere threat of patent lawsuits to effectively extort payments like a modern day Al Capone.” Here is his excellent (and widely-cited) post titled “Legal terrorism Microsoft style” (also published here):
Many people I think misunderstand Microsoft’s supreme court appeal of the i4i patent case. Some suggest that by focusing on limiting the ability to actually win patent cases that Microsoft is somehow limiting it’s own ability to use software patents against others. Nothing can be further from the truth, and indeed I think this case and their newly launched lawsuit against Motorola represents a milestone in their transformation from a proprietary software vendor into a litigation house.
What I think people fail to appreciate is that Microsoft does not seek the elimination of software patents but only to further limit the possibility of suffering spectacular losses at the end of such cases. This is because they understand well their most effective strategy is not in actually winning large judgments in patent cases against others, but rather simply in being able to financially exhaust others that they choose to sue. Hence, they wish to have an environment that is for them “safer to sue”.
Being a failed software company that can neither produce nor enter markets they are unable to illegally force people to buy their defective products, they clearly see future growth by taxing everyone else’s success. This is made possible by the threat of launching multi-year patent lawsuits that will cost millions of dollars to defend against even if they are entirely groundless, but for which they are far better positioned to financially sustain than their chosen target. They therefore can use the mere threat of patent lawsuits to effectively extort payments like a modern day Al Capone.
Microsoft is trying to deter companies from selling Android/Linux, using software patents. Sugar quotes Benjamin Franklin as saying: “That as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others…”
“To Microsoft, sharing work is a one-way affair (exploiting the work of others).”Microsoft does not understand sharing. To Microsoft, sharing work is a one-way affair (exploiting the work of others). By the way, Sugar’s use of the word “legal terrorism” may cheapen the term “terrorism”, but it is a proper term to use in this context. A few years ago, James Eagleton, the systems product manager for Sun Microsystems, said about Microsoft’s aggressive action: “What we’re seeing though now can be loosely described as patent terrorism, where people are using their patent horde as a threat [...] It’s almost like a cold war stand over tactic; where I have these patents and if you breach these patents, I’m going to come after you and sue you.”
Last night in IRC we showed that the MSBBC’s coverage of the lawsuit against Motorola seemed more like Microsoft propaganda and many other publications fell into the same trap; they describe Motorola like some kind of “thief” and Microsoft as a victim rather than explain to viewers/readers that Microsoft cannot compete, so it is just agitating everyone else around it.
A Microsoft booster from the The Seattle Times wrote a decent piece for a change. It’s titled “Microsoft using anti-Linux tactic against Google’s Android” and it starts as follows:
The lawsuit Microsoft filed against Motorola and its use of Google’s Android phone software is awfully familiar.
Microsoft used the same tactic against Linux when the open-source software reached critical mass in the data center and threatened to derail the growth of Microsoft’s server business seven years ago.
After name-calling failed to slow Linux, Microsoft started warning big companies that the free software wasn’t really free. It also said companies should take into account the potential cost of patent and licensing litigation around open-source products.
Uncertainty increased in 2003, when SCO, a Utah company, alleged that Linux was using some of its technologies. SCO licensed its technology to Microsoft and sought royalties from hundreds of companies using Linux.
That helped Microsoft persuade customers that free software isn’t really free. It even promised to indemnify customers that went with Microsoft products instead, offering a sort of insurance against patent issues.
The only thing good I see coming from this action is that the world will see M$ is a patent-troll and refuse to do business with them and the world will reject software-patents. They just make no sense. You don’t invent software. You figure it out step by step. You can obtain a patent on a particular type of door-latch but your patent cannot cover all door-latches and block out innovation by others. That’s what software-patents attempt to do. Given a particular goal a number of programmers can reach the same solution by any number of methods. M$ wants to define every possible goal of technology and block others from getting to it. That is wrong and this litigation must be fought tooth and nail or M$ will just become more dangerous. Technology in USA will become a backwater if they are allowed to stifle innovation this way.
The Microsoft boosters have little to offer in terms of coverage (they mostly refuse to denounce Microsoft) and OpenBytes twists a famous quote from “Field of Dreams” (the film) in order to describe what Microsoft is doing here:
“If you build it, they will sue”
Yes, Microsoft is at it again. Maybe worried by the lack of mainstream interest in their upcoming “creation” Windows Mobile 7? Its being reported that good old Redmond is now after Motorola (its already had a go at HTC and Samsung) and looking to suck a bit of revenue from the sale of Android, since in my view it seems doubtful they will get much from their own platform.
Very clever, Microsoft. The company’s failing mobile business leaves it with no choice but to merely become the class bully. According to this new report, the same companies which Microsoft has already got as paying sellouts (paying Microsoft for Linux) are willing to dabble in Vista Phone 7 [sic]. The title of the article is “5 Reasons the Windows Phone 7 Will Fail” (the are many new posts like that) and it says:
Samsung, HTC, and LG will manufacture the handsets, but so far there has only been speculation on what the phones will offer and look like. What we do know is that Microsoft has to make up a lot of ground if it expects to gain market share in an Apple, Android, and BlackBerry dominated world.
Prepare for the brainwash we have been warning about:
So far, we know that Microsoft is sinking $500 million into a marketing and advertising blitz and will be offering Windows Phone 7 first in Europe, three weeks before America.
However, there’s at least one person who says this revolution ain’t gonna happen. Eric Bleeker, analyst over at The Motley Fool, reckons Windows Phone 7 might be humped before it even gets going. To quote the erstwhile Mr Bleeker, “I hate to sound dismissive of Windows Phone 7 before it even hits stores, but the deck is stacked against it. Regardless of Windows Phone 7’s features, it’s just too late in the game.”
According to this link we got last night, Vista Phone 7 is still primitive. To quote: “The parody says that Windows Phone 7 can?t copy and paste, can’t multitask, and can’t tether. All of these are true, but Microsoft said that these functionalities will become available soon after launch.”
“As annoying as the Motorola lawsuit may be, it is important to understand that it’s a sign of death for Microsoft in mobile.”It’s just about as bad with HP's Vista 7 tablet, which VentureBeat considers to be an embarrassment compared to Android tablets (they only name the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which Microsoft makes money from as well).
As annoying as the Motorola lawsuit may be, it is important to understand that it’s a sign of death for Microsoft in mobile. The company ran out of ideas. There has been a major executives exodus in this department (as well as others), so the main remaining risk is that of entryism. As the news put it some days ago:
Stephen Elop is said to have taken up as the CEO at Nokia Corp. Also Division President Robbie Bach is due to retire this year. Robbie Bach was handling included Microsoft’s mobile and games businesses, reportedly.
Don Reisinger, who only ever writes at CNET to provoke with bait, goes with the headline “Mobile woes slice Ballmer’s bonus in half” and CNET‘s partner site ZDNet helps Microsoft attack Android by giving Ed Bought a platform in which he stages a dumping of Android under “Why I dumped my Droid” (just to create some Microsoft hype in ZDNet ahead of the arrival of Vista Phone 7).
Lastly, remember this: Microsoft claims to be spending half a billion dollars just on marketing of Vista Phone 7. Lawsuits against Android distributors (and their timing) can be seen an just part of the publicity stunts. █