Report: Microsoft seeks royalties from Android, Chrome OS devices

If one is to believe the latest rumors from Taiwan, Microsoft is throwing its legal weight around to keep Android and the Chrome OS off of Acer and Asus netbooks. So reports DigiTimes, which learned from its sources that the company intends to seek royalties from Taiwanese hardware makers who use the Google operating systems. The "e-mail, multimedia and other functions" of these OSes allegedly infringe on Microsoft’s patents.

No, I’m not making this up. DigiTimes says cell phone maker HTC has already "signed for licensed use of Microsoft patents," and Microsoft demands "at least" $10-15 per phone in royalties. The site goes on to explain that Acer and Asus don’t sell high volumes of phones, so by targeting them, Microsoft could be attempting to discourage the firms from straying from Windows with their other products—netbooks, that is.

I don’t know about the veracity of this report, but this isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Microsoft (or Intel, for that matter) exerting pressure to keep Google- and ARM-products at bay. In August, DigiTimes reported that PC vendors weren’t terribly excited about offering Atom-based slates running Windows, but they would do so anyway, partly to "maintain their relationships with Intel and Microsoft."

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    • ronch
    • 9 years ago

    Is Microsoft trying to be the new Rambus?

    • Deanjo
    • 9 years ago

    A simple way around this is use something like Smeegol since the MS / Novell agreement protects against this situation.

    §[<http://news.opensuse.org/2010/10/06/announcing-smeegol-1-0/<]§

    • moog
    • 9 years ago

    At least MS doesn’t proclaim such falsehoods as Google’s “do no evil”.

    In the latest release,
    §[<http://finance.yahoo.com/taxes/article/111093/the-tax-haven-thats-saving-google-billions<]§ Google's ethics are no better than most other multinational corporations, though they get away with more than any other. That's our tax dollars, so effectively we paid 3.1 billion.

    • Thresher
    • 9 years ago

    “In August, DigiTimes reported that PC vendors weren’t terribly excited about offering Atom-based slates running Windows, but they would do so anyway, partly to “maintain their relationships with Intel and Microsoft.””

    And this is why Microsoft and intel will fare poorly in the tablet market.

    By forcing a platform that isn’t really designed for a tablet on the market.

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 9 years ago

    Meanwhile, /[

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      ????? actually, i’d say both are making both.

    • bthylafh
    • 9 years ago

    Plz give us a killfile for the article comments, kthxbai.

    • tejas84
    • 9 years ago

    I hope Microsoft make a killing on patents against Google.

    Google CEO Eric Schmidt reminds me a LOT of Adolf Hitler

      • kuraegomon
      • 9 years ago

      Would you care to clarify/defend that statement? If not, then I’ll just go ahead and refer to your comment as despicable. Decent people do _not_ make that kind of comparison unless genocide is involved.

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 9 years ago

        Hitler did do things other than genocide, so I think that comparison could theoretically be valid.

        However, I think the number one candidate for that spot would be Obama.
        National socialism, homeland security, camps (guantanamo), genocide (iraq), the list goes on.

          • cygnus1
          • 9 years ago

          Since I didn’t start the R&P topic, I’m just going to go ahead and chime in with the fact that all the things you mentioned, were instituted by Bush. Except for the march toward socialism, because that started many decades ago, but he did sign in the biggest expansion of federal socialism in a couple generations.

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 9 years ago

            I know. They’ve all been puppets for a long time, so it doesn’t really matter who’s in office anyway.
            They have a continuity of agenda, and when you realize that, you’ll really be traveling down the rabbit hole.

            • Thresher
            • 9 years ago

            On the other hand, Hitler ruined that mustache thing of his forever.

            Seriously, no one is going to be sporting that thing.

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 9 years ago

            lol. I can’t see how that would have been popular anyway. It certainly was a strange and unique mustache.
            If I was ever president, I might sport one just to mess with people.

            • blastdoor
            • 9 years ago

            Comparing Obama to Hitler is frigarted, but I do tend to agree with this post.

            To put it in terms more appropriate to the site… Democracy 1.0 has a whole bunch of vulnerabilities that have been so completely exploited by malware producers that the entire system is heading towards collapse. I suppose the current system could be patched enough to make it marginally useful, but a total re-write might be the best solution. But how do you rewrite an operating system when the only computer you have available to do the work is the one that’s infested with malware? Very depressing…

            • l33t-g4m3r
            • 9 years ago

            Ah, but we have a republic, since our founding fathers realized that democracy was nothing more than 2 wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner, while a republic protects everyone’s rights equally.
            To name a historical example, the Greeks used to vote on who to throw off cliffs with pebbles. Boy that sure was fair and balanced.

            • mcnabney
            • 9 years ago

            Bush created Medicare part D
            Obama is making everyone purchase health insurance.

            Which one is the socialist again?

      • raddude9
      • 9 years ago

      /[

    • Suspenders
    • 9 years ago

    One more reason to loathe Microsoft.

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      at least the MS wealth is going somewhere. I’d take bill being rich vs 99% of the rich people in the world.

        • axeman
        • 9 years ago

        That is true. But some of that money also goes to Ballmer, I don’t know if that’s worth it. 🙂

          • indeego
          • 9 years ago

          Chair industry rejoicesg{

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    There’s already 20+ suits going on in this space. My thoughts are Microsoft will be up against Google and IBM and a witch hunt of prior art and obviousness will begin, and it will get expensive for all to fight these battles one by one. Congressional hearings would be a pretty quick fix to all this, too bad none of our politicians have balls in terms of fixing the broken patent system.

    Google should step up and defend their hardware vendors. The downside? Google doesn’t have the best legal teams, they simply are young and inexperienced in fighting these types of battles. That fo course could be fixed real quick with the cash they have on handg{<.<}g

      • just brew it!
      • 9 years ago

      Yes, unfortunately the current implementation of software patents rewards the wrong thing. Instead of rewarding innovation, it rewards whoever first figures out how to describe something obvious in a way that makes it /[http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2003/pulpit_20030123_000760.html<]§

    • stmok
    • 9 years ago

    Microsoft has no other way to fight Linux, (which both Android and Chrome OS is based on); so they resort to patents in order to extract a “royalty”. *cough* Extortion *cough*.

    Its worked in the past with companies of commercial Linux based implementations. (If you dig through MS’s press releases, you’ll find quite a number of well-known companies settling patent issues with Microsoft…Some are referred to as “patent covenants”.)

    Some people say patents are used for innovation purposes, but in the technology field (more specifically, software); its used as an offensive weapon to quell innovation and as leverage over competition. In Android/ChromeOS’s case, its to stem the potential tide and prevent possible long term problems for Microsoft.

    Didn’t anyone notice the timing of…
    => §[<http://www.electronista.com/articles/10/10/04/microsoft.says.entitled.to.patent.fees.on.android/<]§ ...And the release of Windows Phone 7 shortly after? The only reason HTC settled with MS because both MS and Apple were going to gun after HTC over Android. This allowed HTC to focus on defending itself with just Apple. (HTC is going to make a play to invalidating Apple's patents that they've been accused of infringing.) Microsoft cannot let Linux make a step on the netbook market...Otherwise, its "game over" in the long term. Hence, the reason for the dropping of XP Home licenses to US$15 for OEM netbooks, the prolonged life of XP itself, and the neutered version of Windows 7 ("Starter" version). Personally, I think Microsoft is wasting too much time preventing competitors; when they could apply all their efforts in bettering their own products...But I guess this is what happens when you have Ballmer as CEO.

      • just brew it!
      • 9 years ago

      I don’t think you can lay all of the blame at Ballmer’s feet; I tend to think it is also largely due to corporate ennui — more of a systematic malaise.

      Microsoft has already made their mark on the industry; they have become complacent and don’t really have the will or ability to be truly innovative any more. MS is no longer the dream job for new CS grads, which leads to a bit of a Catch-22 — it is harder to be innovative if you can’t attract the brightest new developers; and being perceived as an innovative company is what helps attract those developers in the first place.

      Yesterday’s scrappy upstart is today’s aging dinosaur. MS was probably directly or indirectly responsible for the demise of scores of other “dinosaur” companies back in the day, but now they are becoming one themselves.

        • indeego
        • 9 years ago

        A “dinosaur” with record revenues pretty much every quarter to quarter.

        Let’s call them sharks. At least they have survived and prospered from the dinosaur ageg{<.<}g

          • just brew it!
          • 9 years ago

          Hey, dinosaurs (the *real* ones) were hugely successful too… until that asteroid came and caused sudden changes in the climate that they couldn’t adapt to. Unless there’s a tech equivalent of an asteroid strike, MS will continue to lumber on for a good while yet.

          Is Linux Microsoft’s asteroid? IMO probably not… but there’s a /[

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            speaking of dinosaurs. you all loved that horrible puppet show. you make me sick.

            • axeman
            • 9 years ago

            Dinosaurs dominated the earth for millions (billions?) of years. I think calling Microsoft a dinosaur is a bit premature .:)

          • axeman
          • 9 years ago

          Earnings numbers are meaningless. They’re stated in USD likely, so what does that really mean? The pie is probably getting larger at a frenetic pace, what’s their share of the pie? What about the cost of the software? So they’re successful at getting people to pay more than ever for a copy of Windows. What innovation!

    • kvndoom
    • 9 years ago

    If you can’t beat ’em, sue ’em.

      • Suspenders
      • 9 years ago

      nm, wrong reply.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 9 years ago

    I LOATHE stupid money-grabbing lawsuits (*cough* Apple) which this sounds like, but if Microsoft spent money developing “e-mail, multimedia and other functions” and took the time to patent them, then they have a point (unlike Apple and their touch interface suit, or their ipod “clicky circle”).

    It’s been done enough times to Microsoft. But seeing how long “e-mail, multimedia and other functions” have been on smart phones and Microsoft never raised a flag, I’m pretty sure this will be a stupid money-grabbing lawsuit.

    • dpaus
    • 9 years ago

    Kinda makes me wonder if Bing is infringing any search patents, and if Google wants to collect ‘royalties’ from any and all companies that advertise on Bing….

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    that’s what businesses do. try to make money. if you can’t do it nicely, do it rough. I’m not defending them, any more than I would any company. the fact is, companies suck. all companies. some a little more than others, but they all do.

      • just brew it!
      • 9 years ago

      Yeah, it’s a fact of life.

      This borders on corporate extortion though. Pay Microsoft your protection money, or else…

        • NeelyCam
        • 9 years ago

        The question is, does Microsoft have the legal right to do this – i.e., do they own patents on technologies that Acer/Asus/HTC/etc. are using without paying royalty fees?

        If that’s the case, MS has every right to tap into a revenue stream that’s partly based on their R&D results.

        Say what you will about patent trolls, but MS isn’t one, and patents are important to innovation.

          • just brew it!
          • 9 years ago

          While I agree that MS probably does not fit the textbook definition of a patent troll, it could be argued that they still engage in patent abuse.

          I also agree that a properly managed patent system can encourage innovation. However, our system in its current form likely does more harm than good. For patents to be truly beneficial, the process of vetting them to make sure that the thing being patented was truly original and non-obvious to anyone else working in the same field needs to be overhauled. The current system often rewards whoever has the deepest pockets to pay for attorneys, not the true innovators.

          • indeego
          • 9 years ago

          Microsoft is absolutely a patent troll, as is any company that puts their patents in Intellectual Ventures. (That includes Google and pretty much every major tech company, as a measure of self-preservationg{<.<}g)

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 9 years ago

          If they really have legit patents that google is infringing on, why don’t they sue them directly and shut down any operations that infringe?

          Going after some Asian companies that may not be familiar with US patent laws seems very fishy to me.

            • just brew it!
            • 9 years ago

            Going after Google directly will get them an expensive multi-year court battle with an uncertain outcome. If things go badly for MS, it could even result in the patents being invalidated.

            It seems pretty clear that they’d rather go after companies who are actually selling the devices. This has two advantages:

            1) It scares any vendors who may still be on the fence away from Android.

            -and-

            2) Any vendors that cave and agree to pay them royalties result in an additional revenue stream without them having to do any real work beyond sending some threatening letters.

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 9 years ago

      While you have a point, and I’m half-tempted to say let MS and Google fight as dirty as they want so that maybe they’ll kill each other, at best, one of them will just back out of that market – which makes us the losers.

      • Suspenders
      • 9 years ago

      So they all suck, okay. What do you suggest consumers do about that? Keep shopping and just shrug our shoulders?

        • CasbahBoy
        • 9 years ago

        Essentially, yes. What else can we do? I do suggest annoying our legislators, but really – regarding representation it is pretty hard to translate “vote for this guy or this guy” four or five times over on a yearly basis into coherent tech policy (let alone any other kind of policy). And that is even assuming in the majority of cases everyone else is voting the same way you are.

        So yeah, I do suggest we shrug our shoulders and keep living our lives :/

      • designerfx
      • 9 years ago

      google may do some questionable things sometimes, but it’s not even remotely like MS. Meanwhile, there is such a thing as extortion, and this is it. This is not an “Acceptable business practice” or even legal, for that matter.

      How is it proof that it’s not legal? Because it never made it to court. HTC signed a contract with MS without legal involvement of any kind. I can sign something agreeing to pay someone but that doesn’t mean it’s sound.

        • just brew it!
        • 9 years ago

        Just because a court /[

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