Bonum Certa Men Certa

Microsoft's Patent Extortion Against Android Has Microsoft Called a Patent Troll

Attack on the Androids


Summary: Android Community alleges that Microsoft is trolling while the Microsoft-controlled press tries to "regularise" flagrant extortion

THE US patent system has many stories to show that demonstrate its sad state. One of them was brought up by Jeremy Allison this week and it's an open letter that says:

You’ve no doubt heard about patent battles in the world of software. Companies such as Nokia, Apple, and Microsoft use their incredibly large patent portfolios against each other in a multitude of ways. Often defensively, sometimes offensively. While there are many patents for truly inventive things, there are also a great number that are for things that already exist. Patents are a good idea that have been appropriated over the decades as a corporate tool for establishing limits to competition, no matter if the ideas described by those patents are truly inventive. Furthermore, this kind of use of patents isn’t just limited to the world of computing.

The Washington Post has posted a presentation of players in the patent war of 2012 and the opening remark says:

The patent wars have been around since well before the modern technology sector. In fact, a Time magazine article dated, June 10, 1929, with the headline "Business: Patent War," covered the dispute over who could rightfully be called "The Father of Radio." The battle for patent supremacy has led some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful companies to trek out an army of lawyers to negotiate acquisitions expressly for the purpose of beefing up their patent holdings, sue companies believed to be infringing on held patents and defend themselves against similar suits from others. The battle, dubbed "The Patent Wars" will be one of the long-running technology trend stories to be explored in 2012.

Although Google is only on the defence, it is dragged into the arms race and it chooses IBM for its arsenal supplies (IBM is a top patentor).

The Microsoft 'press' covers Microsoft's latest Android extortion (poor coverage, as expected) and IDG spins is some more against Google. Novell is mentioned in light of this extortion too. It has had a lot to do with it. Quoting Digital Trends:

Microsoft has taken a similar "fear, uncertainty, and doubt" tack with Linux—alleging for years without filing a case that the operating system infringes on Microsoft technologies. Microsoft also offers corporate and enterprise Linux users an immunity deal through it’s partnership with Attachmate/Novell regarding SUSE Linux.

We boycotted Novell for years because this provided Microsoft with the ammunition it needed to "normalise" extortion, characterising it as "mutual agreement" or something along those lines. Novell might be dead, but the legacy of its decisions is still affecting everything. As Android Community puts it:

If you bought an Android smartphone or tablet in the last six months, odds are surprisingly good that you paid a considerable chunk of the purchase price to Microsoft. The dinosaur of the software world has successfully sued and/or negotiated with most of the major Android OEMs, including Samsung, HTC, and lately LG. Microsoft claims that over 70% of the Android hardware sold in the US includes licensing fees paid to the company – a disturbing statistic for an open-source operating system.


Google isn’t happy about Microsoft’s Android tax, but there isn’t much they can do about it. Since Microsoft has so far refused to sue Google directly over the software, instead aiming for smaller and ostensibly weaker manufacturers, its patents are unlikely to be overturned in the United States. Oh well – if you can’t innovate, litigate.

More from the same site calling Microsoft a "patent troll":

Last week Microsoft couldn’t resist taunting Google over its licensing deal with LG, and it looks like the patent gravy train isn’t set to stop rolling any time soon. Accroding to Korean news outlet Yonhap, Pantech is currently in negotiations with the American software giant to pay indeterminate licensing fees for the priveledge of running Android (a free and open-source operating system) on its phones. Along with LG and a handful of other major manufacturers like Samsung and HTC, Microsoft now claims it collects fees for more than 70% of Android phones sold in the United States.

This extortion by Microsoft should be pursued more actively in antitrust authorities. The company is abusing the market and it should therefore brought down.

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