Microsoft Extortion Against Android OEMs (Even Chinese Companies) Continues in Spite of Departure of Horacio Gutierrez
Summary: Microsoft reminds us that it is still engaging in patent extortion by signing yet another patent settlement deal which requires surrendering to Microsoft
JUST over a month ago Microsoft officials made it clear that the patent war against Android was still on. Now it’s confirmed by actions.
Today’s post is reactionary, as usual, and it will be about Microsoft extortion. We shall provide some background information to help explain why European regulators should put Microsoft on trial instead of taking Microsoft’s lobbying in Europe seriously, imposing fines on Google and acting as Google watchdogs.
Microsoft’s patent extortion against companies in China isn’t entirely new. Remember what it did to ZTE 3 years ago. Chinese authorities got visibly irritated by Microsoft’s patent shakedown and released a previously-secret list of patents Microsoft uses to extort companies in China, compelling them to obey Microsoft’s demands so as to avert costly litigation. Xiaomi is the latest victim, but to Microsoft the high-prized deal would be with Huawei, which is a growing force and dominant OEM in the Android domain. Huawei, based on reports we mentioned in past years, doesn’t surrender.
“Xiaomi is the latest victim, but to Microsoft the high-prized deal would be with Huawei, which is a growing force and dominant OEM in the Android domain.”More patent extortion from Microsoft serves to remind us that there is no strategic change at Microsoft. Microsoft cannot coexist with Linux and leave it alone/live in peace; it cannot help itself, it’s a scorpion (riding on a tortoise/turtle as per the famous parable) and it just keeps pinching that which it’s exploiting for a free ride (Android in this case) while relying on regulators — through lobbying — to prevent defensive reaction from Google. Horacio Gutierrez may be gone, but nothing substantial happened or changed. Don’t believe for a second that just because Microsoft’s patent Mafia don has left it somehow means the extortion strategy stopped. Microsoft never rescinded or withdrew this, except on April 1st (as a prank).
For those who are not sure what Microsoft is doing here, how it misleads the media, and what it means in practical terms, see this article about Acer. The above is repetition of the same strategy. They are putting lipstick on a pig again.
“This has nothing to do with access to services, it’s just how they dress up patent extortion and the coercion which comes with it.”In short, Microsoft tells Xiaomi, “do what we say or we’ll sue you with patents.” In other words, Microsoft threatens litigation and gives a “get out” clause (make Android become just a Microsoft platform). Having just killed Windows on mobile, this is all Microsoft has left. It uses blackmail tactics to impose its malware/spyware on potentially billions of phones. The ‘official’ announcement says this:
Microsoft Corp. and Xiaomi Inc. have expanded their global partnership to provide innovative user experiences on mobile devices. As part of the agreement, Xiaomi will ship Microsoft Office and Skype on Xiaomi Android smartphones and tablets. As a result, tens of millions of consumers and business customers in China, India and around the world will have new ways to work, collaborate and communicate. The companies’ new collaboration also includes a cross-license and patent transfer agreement.
Don’t be misled by “cross-license and patent transfer agreement.” It’s a settlement basically. The FFII’s President responded to this as follows: “Microsoft is the biggest patent troll.”
This has nothing to do with access to services, it’s just how they dress up patent extortion and the coercion which comes with it. And they tell us Microsoft “loves Linux”… does anybody still believe that? Not even Microsoft’s marketing staff should be gullible enough to believe it. █
Update: Based on updates given to relatively high-profile reporters (and those who updated their puff pieces accordingly), Microsoft managed to get ‘protection’ money too, albeit not in the traditional form. Xiaomi has just been pressured to have paid (unless it just wanted to pay) Microsoft for useless patents; this is either a novel way to disguise another case of blackmail against Linux or part of Xiaomi’s patent hoarding efforts. Either way, it’s starting to become apparent that Xiaomi paid Microsoft, one way or another (the amount is not known). “The Wall Street Journal reports that Xiaomi will purchase 1,500 patents from Microsoft as part of the deal,” says one writer, citing an article that says “Xiaomi Corp. has agreed to purchase around 1,500 patents” (the term “agreed to purchase” suggests that it came from Microsoft, not from Xiaomi).