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02.15.12

Why Microsoft’s Blackmail Campaign Against Linux/Android May be Headed Towards the Garbage Can

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 3:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trash cans

Summary: Barnes and Noble gets an upper hand and other news serves to show the weakening of Microsoft’s patent campaign/effort to disrupt fair competition

THIS site was born out of need to defend GNU/Linux from Microsoft extortion. Here we are just over half a decade later and Microsoft’s extortion affects many Android devices, not just SUSE.

According to this report, “Barnes & Noble Backed by U.S. Agency Staff in Microsoft Case” and as one commentator puts it:

CLOSED SOURCE SOFTWARE HOUSE Microsoft looks set to lose its attempt to get Barnes and Noble’s Nook tablet banned.

Microsoft had gone to the US International Trade Commission (ITC) in a bid to halt the import of Barnes and Noble’s Nook tablet and ebook reader, claiming the device infringes three of its patents. Unlike most firms, Barnes and Noble decided to fight Microsoft instead of paying up, a decision that now looks likely to pay off.

This is enough to squash some propaganda from Microsoft lobbyists, but not the appalling propaganda from Bloomberg (as can be seen here). Linux-hostile sources are seeking to portray Google as a patent aggressor and gangsters from Microsoft as “friendly”

The Microsoft lobbyists[ [cref 58126 spread (nonsense like it’s a full-time job and the target is always Android. Microsoft is very worried about Android, which enters tablets and thus affects Microsoft’s desktop share as well.

Red Hat’s unofficial response (from an employee) says:

Now let’s ignore for the moment the obvious wrongness wrt Android copying iOS etc and instead focus on the claim that 2.25% is not FRANDish enough according to the self-acclaimed expert in thsi field, Mr. Florian Mueller.

This same Mr. Mueller is working on a “research project” to find out how FRAND is the best way for the IT world etc. Hint: that research is payed by Microsoft ;-)

It is just a Microsoft lobbyist injecting the Microsoft line into publications (maybe with his usual spam-esque techniques for promoting this).

Pamela Jones and Professor Webbink tackle these sorts of issues from a legal standpoint. In this new post they help dispel some of the myths spread by the lobbyists:

With Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility there have been a number of competitors claiming Google (Motorola) is acting unfairly in its licensing of patents related to the H.264 and 3G/UMTS standards.

Among the complaining parties are Microsoft and Apple, both of which claim that the Motorola Mobility approach to FRAND (fair reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing under the respective standards is anything but fair and reasonable. The fight is over the fact that Motorola Mobility (and now Google) is asking a 2.25% royalty for a single patent in each of these instances.

While it is the epitome of chutzpah for Apple and Microsoft to complain about the patent licensing behavior of any other company, that does little to clarify the issues involved in patent licensing related to standards. This article will walk through those issues so we can all have a better understanding of such licensing and why different companies perceive the terms “fair and reasonable” from very different perspectives, depending on whose ox is being gored.

Here is the type of articles Groklaw responds to. Alan Lord writes: “Makes you wonder what all those other vendors are paying #Microsoft for doesn’t it?”

On another occasion he writes: “OMG! Look what #Microsoft, the #swpat troll is claiming are being breached by B&N: is.gd/XTkkrg Trivial, not novel or innovative.”

He links to this Microsoft booster and Pamela Jones over at Groklaw. She shows Microsoft retreating:

The big news being reported by Bloomberg is that Jeff Hsu, a staff attorney at the ITC, said in an interview he will be recommending that ITC Judge Theodore Essex find Barnes & Noble has not infringed three Microsoft patents. Essex rules in April on that.

If I were a FUDster, I’d write that this means Barnes & Noble has prevailed, but I just tell you the truth, which is that this is one step in a longer process. It is, undeniably, however, fabulously good news for Barnes & Noble.

Alan Lord adds that:

Really, really bad stuff from #Microsoft’s “Android Licensing Progam”: is.gd/b1rIIy #swpats #barnesandnoble (2nd highlighted para)

Extortion is when “licensing” from Microsoft is required for a product Microsoft has nothing to do with. And as Groklaw puts it:

Barnes & Noble Files Petition for Review Re Patent Misuse Defense ~pj – Updated

[...]
But the most explosive section is where Barnes & Noble describes what Microsoft said to them when they approached Barnes & Noble with a demand that they pay for a patent license:

“And what they basically told us was, it doesn’t matter if you have defenses, whether you don’t infringe, whether our patents are invalid, you’re going to need to take a license, because there’s no way that you can get out of our grasp, that we have so many patents that we could overwhelm you.”

The document says that Microsoft demands that all OEMs take a license from them and pay for all Android phones whether or not they actually infringe.

Finally, here is an explanation of interest about damage limitations because “[a] number of comments to a recent article on the Microsoft v. Barnes & Noble reveal some confusion on the issues of damages in patent infringement actions and the role that patent marking and notice play in determining when damages begin to accrue.” The bottom line is, the case goes on and Microsoft is struggling to defend its case for extortion. Regulators too are getting involved now. Besieged by transparency.

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