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HTC-Microsoft Was Not an Agreement, It Was Apparently an Extortion

Extortion



Summary: More evidence that HTC merely settled (probably after threats) rather than be wooed for a patent deal as Microsoft would like to paint it

SETTLEMENT or mere agreement? That is the big question. In a prior post we showed the word "settle" or "settlement" coming up, which usually indicates legal action or a precursor. Microsoft has begun going after Android with explicit threats that it put in the press in order to find more extortion opportunities [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] or engage in 'pre-settlement' agreements, which still count as extortion that violates some laws in particular countries which designed rules to prevent racketeering.



The following new article from Glyn Moody mentions the word "settle", which considering the one-way flow of money indicates that an extortion almost certainly took place. [via]

Then, just to make things more interesting, poor old HTC was accused by Microsoft of infringing on its patents – except in this case, HTC decided to settle, so we don't know exactly what those patents were. Here's what Microsoft said:

Microsoft Corp. and HTC Corp. have signed a patent agreement that provides broad coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio for HTC’s mobile phones running the Android mobile platform. Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will receive royalties from HTC.

Notice that it specifies “mobile phones running the Android mobile platform”, which seems an indirect way of implying that HTC has paid for “problems” with Linux, on which Android is based. Thus, a little more FUD can be spread about Linux's supposed infringement on Microsoft's monopolies, without actually making any real claim that needs supporting by facts.


Gavin Clarke, who is a Microsoft booster, spoke to Nokia about the subject and received the following response:

Ari Jaaksi, Nokia's vice president of MeeGo devices, told The Reg Tuesday that Intel and Nokia could "guarantee and promise" that MeeGo is safe from any and all patent claims because of the size and breadth of the companies' patent portfolios, and also because of the size of Intel and Nokia themselves. MeeGo is based on the Linux kernel and uses common components such as X-Windows and Gstreamer.

"Both Nokia and Intel have a huge patent portfolio and we have put our investment into the standard Linux-based platform. That's a guarantee and promise that it's safe for anyone to take this platform because we will look after your investment with our patent platform," Jaaksi said.

"With the big patent portfolios already backing up MeeGo as an operating system, that should make some of the concerns go away... we'll defend that with our patent portfolio."


Oiaohm calls it M.A.D. (mutually assured destruction) and argues that this is a "True nightmare for Microsoft's idea of making profit from patents on Linux. It had to happen at some point -- Linux protected by a M.A.D shield. Now, if Nokia and Intel can get others to join the M.A.D. shield it will just become that scary that no company that is sane will go anywhere near attacking it. Even a troll would have to watch it. They could really simply find themselves that their valid patents are worth less than the patents that are in the M.A.D."

Speaking of patent trolls, more coverage regarding Acacia continues to pour in. We also covered the ending of this case in:



Apple is bugged by Elan [1, 2, 3], which seemingly wants to ban Apple products using patents (it went for the ITC to exploit a loophole and apply pressure for quicker settlement, if any).

The US trade watchdog confirmed this week that it would investigate patent infringement allegations made by Elan Microelectronics against Apple last month.


The most effective solution would be to eliminate software patents. They do not promote science and development in any provable way.

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