Microsoft is Suing/Extorting Android From Other Directions Too (E.g. Traul Allen, Apparently Nathan Myhrvold)
“…Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit against IBM and the Linux operating system. But Microsoft did not want to be seen as attacking IBM or Linux.”
–Larry Goldfarb, BayStar, key investor in SCO approached by Microsoft
Summary: Microsoft is ‘pulling a SCO’ on Android and the Linux-supporting world responds, comparing the strategy to that of patent trolls or SCO
FOR anyone who doubts Microsoft’s behavioural “reform” that they keep raving about, the latest lawsuit comes at a convenient time to show us what "most ethical" must mean (yes, that’s satire). Brian Proffitt is one among many who respond to Microsoft’s latest assault on Android and Linux:
Microsoft’s attempts to bring down Android via litigation rather than innovation continued apace today, as the software giant filed another patent lawsuit against an Android client, this time top US bookstore chain Barnes & Noble, which sells the Nook e-reader. Meanwhile, Linux founder Linus Torvalds has his own comments on the separate issue of Android potentially violating the Linux kernel’s copyright, an issue raised last week.
According to Microsoft today, the Nook, which uses Android as its base operating system, violates five Microsoft-held patents on such innovative inventions like “Loading status in a hypermedia browser having a limited available display area” (Patent #6,339,780).
This lawsuit follows another similar lawsuit brought against device maker Motorola in October 2010, a case that is still in the early stages. Microsoft has also stated in public interviews that it has signed a patent licensing agreement with HTC, and will tell anyone who will listen that Android is not a free operating system, because it is obligated to Microsoft for patent fees.
The lawsuits against Motorola and Barnes & Noble are a clear message to anyone who thinks otherwise: pay up or get sued.
Today’s lawsuit also names hardware manufacturers Foxconn and Inventec as patent infringers.
There is no reason to think that Microsoft is doing anything other than trying to scare hardware distributors and manufacturers into either (a) paying Microsoft’s lawyers to make them go away or (b) avoiding Android altogether. The latter is more preferable to Microsoft, and as alternative operating systems for mobile devices continue to narrow (Nokia’s new partnership with Microsoft will take Symbian out of the mix eventually), manufacturers may feel that using Windows Phone as a platform may be the least painful route.
As my co-host Tim phrases it:
I remind readers of my comments from earlier this year:
…if Microsoft cannot make the products people want to buy, it’s quite happy to cream a little off the top of those that do.
Again I find myself making the observation that Microsoft’s future appears rather more in the courtroom than actual products on shelves. A rather sad state of affairs? Is Microsoft the dog that sits under the table in the hope that someone will take pity and throw it a scrap of food? I’ll let you decide.
Microsoft has an unreasonable sense of entitlement, as if given that its products are failing (rejected by the market) it is entitled to make money from its competitors.
The lawsuits against Android are not coming just directly from Microsoft. Several buddies of Microsoft, including Traul Allen, are suing as well (Groklaw has the latest details). It is said that Nathan Myhrvold, a Microsoft-funded patent troll, has also begun an extortion journey which is mostly silent. He is said to be targeting Android makers. Like a hydra with many heads, Microsoft is trying to bite Android from many directions and drive up the costs, as well as intimidate anyone who wishes to pick Android (while Microsoft Florian and other mobbyists amplify this whole Android FUD). The lawsuits- and trigger-happy bully is now targeting a predominantly Linux-powered space, namely E-readers. The Kindle from Amazon also runs Linux and it is already taxed by Microsoft for unspecified reasons. The latest lawsuits [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] show that Microsoft’s plan was about patents all along, just as we warned 5 years ago before it was so evident. Both Microsoft and software patents ought to be eliminated in order for Linux to succeed. Microsoft cannot live in harmony with Linux; it never wanted to. It is not Linux supporters who are intolerant of Microsoft; it’s Microsoft that’s intolerant of Linux, so the latter are being defensive and reactionary.
Matt Rosoff, a Microsoft booster who keeps pretending to be a professional journalist [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], says that “Microsoft’s Latest Legal Attack On Android Shows Desperation (MSFT)”. Well, despite the headline he bolsters Microsoft’s case (it’s in the wording) and adds: “The move means that any company who uses Android in any capacity faces a legal threat from Microsoft.”
“But apparently Microsoft will stop at nothing to stall Android adoption — or at least earn some money from every single Android device that ships,” he concludes.
“And I suspect the Florian Mueller FUD was getting the world primed for this event, to try to portray Android and Google as somehow disrespectful of “IP rights”. Just like SCO,” writes Groklaw. To quote more of that:
Microsoft steps out from behind the proxies and files its own patent lawsuit against Android, suing Barnes and Noble because it sells Nooks, which run on Android. GeekWire has the patents listed, if you are free to look at them, and the complaint [PDF]. (I have a local copy also, so we don’t melt anyone’s servers.)
Why not sue Google? Who knows? Well, this *is* Microsoft. It’s jungle ethics. Don’t go after the strongest in the field. Besides, they seem to be trying to make a point: what they seem to want is for folks to quit using Android in their products by scaring them with litigation. You could be next, is the message, so pay up. Microsoft says “we have established an industry-wide patent licensing program for Android device manufacturers.” Just like SCO. SCOsource II, you might say.
They want to make Linux cost, so they can compete. Just like SCO. So line up and bow down to Microsoft, y’all. Hardy har. Time for prior art, methinks.
SCO failed utterly, and I suppose one might see this as Microsoft deciding if you want a job done right, you need to do it yourself. I see Rob Enderle, SCO’s buddy, is already making hay for Microsoft, calling it the “hidden cost of Android” and I assume that is the point Microsoft would like you to get from this lawsuit, in case you can’t figure it out for yourself. And I suspect the Florian Mueller FUD was getting the world primed for this event, to try to portray Android and Google as somehow disrespectful of “IP rights”. Just like SCO.
In other patent news, “I4i claims patent backing against Microsoft” and “Apple, Nokia, others targeted in camera patent suit”:
A lawsuit filed last week in Texas by a group named Imperium Holdings claims that Apple along with Kyocera, LG, Motorola Mobility, Nokia, Research in Motion (RIM), and Sony-Ericsson are infringing on five patents related to the cameras and imaging equipment found in phones and other mobile devices.
Oddly enough, there is nothing about patents in their site. In fact, there is just about nothing in the site, so maybe it’s just some registered name which became a patent troll. Yes, well, a bit like Microsoft. █