Summary: Kyocera is again being targeted by Microsoft, using patent aggression, with a secret settlement being reached whose negative impact on Android remains to be seen
AS LONGTIME readers may recall, back in 2007 Microsoft picked Kyocera for its anti-Linux patent campaign, leading us to years of research and protests, even when Kyocera adopted Android, only to be sued by Microsoft earlier this year (with ‘partners’ like these, who needs enemies?). Kyocera is not “just peanuts”; despite not being so well known in Western nations, this is a company with 68,185 employees (not much smaller than Microsoft, which is still on the process of shrinking based on what I privately get told by Microsoft staff).
“Kyocera is not allowed to speak about what Microsoft did to it, for that might damage Microsoft’s reputation or harm Microsoft’s future efforts to blackmail other companies using patents.”US News has this new article titled “Microsoft Seeks a Comeback – But Is It Too Late?” The article alleges that Microsoft is falling way behind Google/Android/Linux. No wonder Microsoft is has been in layoffs mode for half a decade or so, with pace of layoffs increasing over time. Microsoft is now relying more and more on patents; Kyocera is a victim again, as this time it actually fought in court (unlike that time in 2007 where it just bent over).
According to Tech Times, there has just been a secret settlement with all details unknown. Kyocera is not allowed to speak about what Microsoft did to it, for that might damage Microsoft’s reputation or harm Microsoft’s future efforts to blackmail other companies using patents.
“A few months ago,” Tech Times wrote, “Microsoft filed a lawsuit against Kyocera, claiming that three Android smartphones from the Japanese company violated seven Microsoft patents. The smartphones in question were the Duraforce (pictured), Brigadier and Hydro. The patents, meanwhile, cover a wide range of mobile technologies that Microsoft alleged the Android devices violated.
“Microsoft has dozens of licensing agreements in place with Android OEMs, including Samsung, but it will not back out of a litigation if it doesn’t reach an amicable agreement. Microsoft went after Kyocera in March, asking a Seattle court for a U.S. sales ban on the three phones that infringed its patents.”
Microsoft is euphemistically calling racketeering “Technology Sharing Agreement” in its short press release. To quote the Microsoft press release: “In addition to strengthening the partnership between the two companies, it also resolves a patent-infringement lawsuit brought earlier this year in U.S. District Court. The remaining details of the agreement are confidential.”
The words “strengthening the partnership” serve to insinuate that Microsoft uses patent pressure (and rising litigation costs) to coerce Kyocera into becoming Microsoft’s vassal, just as Microsoft did to Samsung shortly before suing Kyocera (March 2015).
The Samsung settlement had conditions from Microsoft, essentially turning Samsung’s Android devices into “Microsoft Android” devices (this has actually been confirmed since the settlement, after mere speculations and rumours). So, there is nothing peaceful about it. This is blackmail. The loaded gun of the Mafia in this case is a pile of patents, usually software patents.
Tech Times does not cover any of this, but the report concludes with: “It remains unclear, however, just how much Kyocera will pay to use Microsoft’s patents.”
So it is possible that Microsoft got Kyocera to pay Microsoft for Android and also preinstall Microsoft malware on future Kyocera handsets. How nice of Microsoft… what a peaceful company.
Looking for any additional takes on this, we only found a proponent of software patents (“AmeriKat”) commenting poorly in a lawyers’ blog. Remarking on these attacks on Android, he wrote that “Kyocera follows Barnes and Noble, Foxconn, Invetec and Samsung in the line of companies that have recently settled with Microsoft.”
“It’s about Microsoft forcing companies to turn to Windows or “Microsoft Android”, making malware with surveillance (spyware) mandatory installed apps.”It’s hardly a settlement. It’s extortion. Microsoft essentially killed Barnes and Noble by tilting it in Windows’ direction in exchange for a so-called ‘settlement’ (we wrote a lot about this) and Samsung did this in exchange for becoming courier of Microsoft rather than an Android company. Kyocera may turn out to be just more of the same. It’s about Microsoft forcing companies to turn to Windows or “Microsoft Android”, making malware with surveillance (spyware) mandatory installed apps.
Curiously enough, in China (where many Microsoft bits of software are now officially banned for use by government agencies) Samsung is now facing a lawsuit over installed apps. We may safely assume that since Samsung agreed to preinstall Microsoft malware on many of its devices (after patent extortion) the Chinese government won’t be too happy. To quote the Shanghai Daily, “Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission yesterday formally announced it has taken legal action against manufacturers Samsung and Oppo over their practice of pre-installing apps on their smartphones.
“The Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court said on Wednesday it had accepted separate cases against Tianjin Samsung Telecommunications Technology Co Ltd and Guangdong Oppo Mobile Telecommunications Co Ltd.
“We may safely assume that since Samsung agreed to preinstall Microsoft malware on many of its devices, the Chinese government won’t be too happy.”“Tao Ailian, secretary-general of the commission, said it filed the public interest lawsuits after investigating complaints from the public about unwanted apps.
“In a study of 20 smartphones, the commission found several that were sold with apps already installed, many of which could not be removed. It also claimed that some phones “stole” cellular data.”
For many users of Galaxy devices, Microsoft malware is clearly “unwanted apps”, so maybe the Shanghai Consumer Rights Protection Commission should also go after Microsoft, both for racketeering, for bundling, and maybe also for mass surveillance, for which it is most notorious (far worse than Google). █