Summary: Microsoft’s extortion of Android leads to passage of patents to Google, Apple loses its cases against Android, and Oracle too is gradually losing the argument against Dalvik
WE recently addressed the transfer of patents from OIN member IBM to OIN member Google (it is reported on as though it’s a sale) and we continue to see this sort of arms trade being done under a cloak of secrecy. One conspiracy against another, eh? To quote this new example:
Cryptography Research, Inc. (CRI), a division of Rambus, Inc., and CPU Technology, Inc. have signed a patent license agreement regarding the use of CRI’s patented innovations in CPU Tech products. This agreement covers the use of CRI’s patented countermeasures to differential power analysis (DPA) attacks for CPU Tech’s tamper-resistant products, including the Acalis® family of secure processors. This license also covers software developed by CPU Tech customers when executing on licensed CPU Tech chips.
These are software-related deals that involve submarine patents. Rambus, the company behind all this, is an atrocious aggressor [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. In many ways, years ago we compared the practices of Rambus to those of Microsoft, which no longer makes stuff that can sell; instead, Microsoft wants to compel people to pay up for something they do not want and never chose. Right now Microsoft is trying to force buyers of Android phones to pay Microsoft for a “licence” and LG signed the latest deal of this kind. Here are some interesting observations or theories from Muktware:
Is Android Part Of Microsoft’ Windows Phone License?
Let’s see what Microsoft deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez has to say, “We are pleased to have built upon our longstanding relationship with LG to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.”
This statement is very important: “built upon our longstanding relationship”. If we look at Microsoft’s Android deals you will notice a pattern. Microsoft has succeeded in cracking deals with those players who are already Microsoft customers. Samsung, LG, HTC are all Microsoft partners as they use Microsoft OS in their devices. Why is Microsoft not excited about telling the world that their ‘longtime partners’ Samsung, LG or HTC will be putting Windows on their phones? Because, the Android deals could very well be the Windows deals painted as Android deals.
Here is a hypothetical scenario:
Microsoft Executives to LG: “We want you to commit to putting Windows Phone OS on x number of your devices. If you do commit that we won’t raise any Linux patent issues. In fact with Windows Phone License you will also get Android protection.”
What will LG do? Its a win win situation for them. They are getting Android protection for free with Windows phone license. Why will they even consider raising issues about patents.
Now how to hide the fact that it was a Windows phone deal, ‘sign an NDA’ so that the rest of the world won’t know the reality.
Ghabuntu explains why Microsoft’s WP7 is failing and notes that:
5. The OEMs just love Android: Why? Because it gives them the power to differentiate themselves completely from their competitors. Given its open nature, it is always easy and safe to model Android into anything one can think of, an example being what Amazon did with it on its Kindle Fire tablets. Which company would not love such an offering? It’s little wonder that even the home pages of almost all the device makers readily feature Android phones, with WP7 a few clicks down the menu. I don’t know the extent of customization Microsoft allows the OEMs, but it sure will not be on the scale Google gives them with Android.
Dr. Moody explains why on tablets too it is Android which is likely to win:
You don’t have to be a marketing genius or industry pundit to foresee that tablets will be an extremely hot sector in 2012. The launch of Apple’s iPad in 2010 largely defined the category, just as the launch of the iPhone defined a new kind of smartphone in 2007; in 2012 we will probably begin to see Android tablets start to gain major market share just as Android smartphones have done this year.
Currently, the tablet is something of a cross between the hipster tech toy of choice and a trivially easy-to-use computing device for couch potatoes. But those early sectors are incidental to the tablet’s real potential to revolutionize education, particularly in emerging economies.
The devices are perfect: they are compact, connect to the Net wirelessly, run off battery power for hours and can be used by children and adults alike with little or no training. There’s just one problem, of course: the typical tablet’s high-end pricing – hundreds of dollars – places it so far out of reach for most of the world’s population that it might as well not exist for them. That is what makes India’s Aakash tablet – basic cost around $50, but only $37 for Indian students thanks to a government subsidy – so remarkable, and so important.
For those who think that Apple can just sue Android out of existence, here is some news [1, 2, 3] that should worry Apple because “[t]he US International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled against Apple in its patent suit against rival mobile vendor Motorola.”
The CPTN members (Novell patents) just cannot seem to keep Android away, no matter the number of lawsuits they launch along with predictions (FUD) of doom and gloom. As Mr. Pogson shows:
It’s always fun to see the school-yard bully take his lumps:
* ITC: Motorola does not violate Apple patents
* Oracle v. Google – Rock, Meet Hard Place
* Barnes & Noble Opposes Microsoft’s Motion for SJ on Patent Misuse Defense ~pj
Judge Alsup is also not buying Oracle’s minimalist argument on how long the trial will take. He says it will be a two-month trial. And a possible date for the trial is a moving target because the rest of Judge Alsup’s docket continues to fill up, i.e., other trials continue to be calendared, further delaying the scheduling of this trial.
Of course, a further delay has the added impact of allowing the reexaminations before the USPTO to run their course, and the last we looked those reexaminations were not favoring Oracle.
Rock, meet hard place. In the other filing of the day we see Google’s (final) supplemental brief [PDF; Text] in support of its Motion in Limine No. 3 – the motion to exclude portions of the Cockburn report. Although this brief is not particularly timely (for us as readers) given that Judge Alsup has already ruled on the matter, it is noteworthy with respect to the main thrust of Google’s argument, i.e., challenging Oracle for continuing to ignore the actual Google arguments and trekking off on unrelated and irrelevant matters. No doubt we have seen this behavior before by Oracle counsel, but what reinforces it in this instance is the fact that Judge Alsup recognizes the Oracle behavior himself. Thus, the ruling against Oracle on the Cockburn report.
However, Google goes even further in this brief. Google argues that Cockburn never investigated or understood the real deal on the table between Sun and Google back in 2006. In a supplemental filing Google provides a Sun slide presentation [PDF] on the discussions, and it is fascinating. It would appear from the presentation that Sun wanted the deal with Google badly. It is also clear that the deal on the table would have been Java compatible, thus undercutting the fragmentation argument that Oracle keeps making to support a higher damages claim.
Oracle has other ongoing patent cases based on this new report:
JDA Software powered its way through 2011 to post decent financial numbers despite the legal battles it fought with Oracle over patent infringements and a lawsuit it inherited with the acquisition of i2 in August 2010.
We keep insisting that Oracle may have attacked Android because Steve Jobs is Larry Ellison’s best friend. Oracle, Apple, and Microsoft are all CPTN members, which ties it all together with Novell and its sellout again. We were right all along about those patents. █