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LG To Pay Licensing Fees To Microsoft For Using Android 359

Posted by Soulskill
from the those-who-can't-do-sue dept.
PerlJedi writes "InformationWeek reports that LG is the latest in a string of companies who have been bullied into paying 'license fees' to Microsoft for the use of Android on their products. 'Microsoft said the deal with LG means that 70% of Android-based smartphones sold in the U.S. are now covered by its licensing program. ... Microsoft does not disclose how much revenue it's obtaining from Android, Chrome, and Linux licenses, but some analysts believe it may be substantial, to the point where the company is making significant profits from the mobile revolution even though its own offering, Windows Phone, commands a market share of less than 2%, according to Gartner.'"
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LG To Pay Licensing Fees To Microsoft For Using Android

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  • by iapetus (24050) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @11:40AM (#38674710) Homepage

    In what way is this different to any other form of extorting money with menaces?

    "Nice mobile phone business you've got here. Would be a shame if anything were to... happen to it."

    • by shentino (1139071) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @11:41AM (#38674730)

      The fact that the regulators are on the take with bribes perhaps?

      Remember that lobbying has an ROI of %22,000

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      the difference is that lawyers do the extorting.

    • by zero.kalvin (1231372) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @11:43AM (#38674778)
      Is it me or Microsoft is behaving like some sort of a successful patent troll ?
      • by jdgeorge (18767) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @11:54AM (#38674922)

        I imagine there are several possiblities including the following:

        1. Microsoft really has some defensible patents that are essential for these device manufacturers. Could be hardware-related or software-related. It's hard to tell, but so far the agreements have all been with hardware companies, haven't they?
        2. Microsoft is offering reasonable licensing terms to the device makers, so the licensing agreement costs significantly less than the cost of litigating.
        3. Microsoft may be using these negotiations to advance their Windows Phone OS goals, along with #2.
        4. The manufacturers entering these agreements don't already have agreements with Microsoft, but actually want to do business with Microsoft in the mobile device or other areas (personal computers, TVs, etc.)
        5. These manufacturers don't have the patent resources to play hardball.
        6. Some combination of the above.

        • by PCM2 (4486) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:05PM (#38675086) Homepage

          2. Microsoft is offering reasonable licensing terms to the device makers, so the licensing agreement costs significantly less than the cost of litigating.

          I think it's pretty clearly this. That is, licensing Microsoft's patents is not cheaper than how the handset manufacturers were doing business before, but now that the legal challenge is on the table, they've run the numbers and it will be cheaper to license the patents.

          But I do think Microsoft is taking advantage of the current mobile market, in which all of the various Android handset makers are in close competition with one another. HTC, Samsung, Motorola, etc., all need to invest their full attention and resources on the competition at hand, not open a second front in the courts (where they only stand to save money, not earn profit). If any one of those vendors were to invest significant time and funds on a protracted legal battle against Microsoft, it stands to lose its position in the market versus its competitors, who would then eat its lunch. That's what's really making it cheaper to license the patents -- avoiding a lawsuit is always going to be cheaper than risking your entire business.

          • Considering that B&N chose to fight, I think it is more likely that the reason is #4, the companies that settled want to do business with Microsoft in the future (or do so already and want to continue to get good terms).
    • by Dexter Herbivore (1322345) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @11:45AM (#38674814) Journal
      I'm confused also, I thought Android was a Google product but apparently MS owns the patent?
      • by Dexter Herbivore (1322345) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @11:48AM (#38674852) Journal
        OK, I should RTFA article before commenting. MS is claiming that "certain components of Android and Chrome OS violate its patents" and therefore they have the right to charge license fees. Now I'm confused as to why Google hasn't taken MS to court to settle this one way or another.
        • Ask what the "certain components" are or wat patents are violated and you get no answer.

          And I personally don't considering "patent every little idea that has been in OSes forever" good R&D, though it may be proftiable since you apparently can extort money from others because of it.

          Yeah.. thanks to the Obama admin. patents have been "fixed." Instead they just approve them faster than ever. This type of idiocy is just going to accelerate.

          I.P. law was not intended to become a weapon, it was intended for

          • by Baloroth (2370816)

            Look at it this way: patents expire after 20 years, so the faster they get approved the faster they will expire. Otherwise, you can have patents first requested 20 years ago that get granted and then allow the company to sue the pants off someone who used it 5 years ago, and it is still valid for another 20. Now, they would get approved 19 years ago and someone would be able to use it next year. If they patent everything now, 20 years from now there won't be any patents left.

            Hey, I didn't say it was much be

        • by zero.kalvin (1231372) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @11:59AM (#38674992)
          Because ( and I could be mistaken) Microsoft haven't approached Google with this, so there is no legal standing for Google to go after MS. So as long as MS is approaching the phone sellers, Google has it hands tied. ps, I am not a lawyer but this is my understanding of the situation.
    • The key difference is that the opposing side Google and not willing to admit that it isn't stepping on any of Microsoft Patents. And a lot of companies would rather pay Microsoft License fees, which probably offer protection beyond just Android/Linux patients but probably a more general patent protection with mobile devices, some of which LG my be doing themselves.

      The problem is too many patents, so it has gotten too confusing and expensive to figure out, so it is cheaper and easier to pay the big patent h
    • by poetmatt (793785)

      nothing. the regulators are already investigating, and microsoft's making their own case much, much worse.

  • Shame if it would burn down. Really. All these apps. Be a real shame. Just sayin'. ya looked at that contract yet?

  • Better than Apple (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2012 @11:44AM (#38674786)

    Apple won't even license it's "rectangular touchscreen" patents for Android phones.

    At this point I hate Apple alot more than I hate Microsoft.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @11:46AM (#38674820) Homepage

    So, Microsoft is getting paid for every Android device sold in the US ...

    And people think the patent system isn't broken.

    I wish we had a clear list of the patents Microsoft is asserting are being infringed, because from TFA:

    Microsoft has also sought licensing deals from vendors whose products run Linux, which the software maker also claims violates its patents.

    That's just sad, really ... you can't build anything without paying Microsoft for the privilege of not getting sued. I'm betting a good deal of those patents are likely stupid things that had been in other operating systems before MS copied and patented them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This is why it should be required to disclose offending patents whenever you go to another person and say "hey. your product infringes on my patents. Pay me or I'll force you to spend millions defending yourself in court."

      Because if you're NOT willing to disclose what patents of yours are being infringed upon, it's fucking obvious you either:

      1. Know the patents you hold are trivial and will get thrown out on a review.

      2. Know the patents are weak, and that the offending company can EASILY change the code suc

      • Isn't this just that hoary old SCO troll? Microsoft's just dropped the pretense of using a sockpuppet to do it's shakedowns. And should be treated the same.


        DON'T FORGET TO PAY YOUR $699 LICENSING FEE YOU COCKSMOKING TEABAGGERS!!!
      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        What makes you think they don't have to disclose which patents are covered? They don't have to discuss it publicly, but I'm sure MS buries LG and Samsung and Google et. al. in paperwork about just which patents are infringed on.

        But neither party really wants to give up how they're doing things. Samsung doesn't really want to say 'we might be violating this patent on an implementation of some icon technology' because that tells all of their competitors that might be a better way to do things, and might be

    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      The main patents that always come up here, is in being able to understand long file names on Windows. See, if you're only ever running linux by itself that would be one thing, but if you want to connect it to a windows machine, whether that's an Android device, which is sync'd with windows, or with a Linux computer that is talking to Windows over the network you're now directly into something that is reasonable for MS to patent, which is how to talk to their own product. And probably 90% (or some clearly

    • And people think the patent system isn't broken.

      Huh? This is exactly what the patent system is for. Microsoft developed some technology and filed a patent. They were granted that patent. They sell devices in the mobile sector that ostensibly use these patents. A competing product is taking advantage of these technologies without licensing them. Microsoft has entered into agreements with these companies to allow them to continue making money while paying their fair share for technology they are not otherwise supposed to use

      I'm betting a good deal of those patents are likely stupid things that had been in other operating systems before MS copied and patented them.

      Pure conjecture based on persona

  • by Markos (71140) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @11:55AM (#38674930)
    If it is indeed for the file system, then it's understandable.
    • by PCM2 (4486) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:11PM (#38675182) Homepage

      If it is indeed for the file system, then it's understandable.

      Good guess. I hadn't thought of that.

      Now, if by "understandable" you mean "comprehensible," then sure. But how is it reasonable [linuxplanet.com]? From the article (by Bruce Perens):

      Indeed, the FAT patents have been invalidated for being non-innovative in Germany, and only survived invalidation in the U.S. through a patent office appeal in which opponents were not allowed to participate. It would take a trial in court to finally settle the issue, a trial that Microsoft would likely have lost.

      But justice is too expensive. A trial to invalidate the eight patents Microsoft brought against TomTom, none of them poster-boys for innovation, would have cost more than TomTom had to spend, perhaps in excess of $10 million dollars.

  • by vinn (4370) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:01PM (#38675006) Homepage Journal

    Ok, let me see if I got this right: they're extorting patent royalties from third party mobile vendors. They're almost certainly making them sign a contract with a time commitment on it. Then later this year they expect these same mobile vendors to ditch Android development and use Windows Mobile instead? All the while they need to continue paying the extortion.

    Yeah... that's gonna work well. It virtually guarantees Windows 8 on a mobile device is DOA.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They don't give a damn if companies use WM...they don't need them to. WM exists so that they have a platform on which to use their patented technologies so as to avoid appearing to be a blatant troll. The real money is in doing nothing and getting paid for it via ridiculous patent law.

  • by Anon-Admin (443764) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:05PM (#38675082) Homepage Journal

    One of the patents that Microsoft uses in these type cases is “loading status in a hypermedia browser having a limited available display area” Seems to me this is way too vague to be a valid patent.

    Here is a link to the actual patent http://www.patents4software.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/6339780.pdf [patents4software.com]

  • by JustNiz (692889) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:30PM (#38675500)

    I can't understand why all the companies that Microsoft is blackmailing, especially Google, don't form a cohesive group to fight back. At least to finally oblige Microsoft to reveal the actual details of whatever their supposed Linux/Android copyrighht claim is.

  • Pirate everything. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:31PM (#38675502) Homepage Journal
    That is basically what it came down to. Microsoft is basically making everyone pay to them regardless of what they do - even if you use linux, you have to pay them. and they are doing these on THREATS of litigation and do not even feel the need to actually show their patents. they are not suing anyone either - they are threatening to.

    this is extortion. period. there is no other explanation or definition for it.

    so, basically we are going to end up having paid to microsoft, EVEN if i do NOT use microsoft products, because microsoft was successful in threatening the producers to pay them out of fear.

    i dont approve that. i choose a product, when i choose a product. if i was going to choose a microsoft product, i would do so. when i have not chosen a microsoft product, that means i have NOT chosen to PAY them.

    if they take my money through ANY means out of my own choices, then it means they are robbing me. period.

    i dont see any other option but to pirate, to get my money back, which was taken away from me through these illegal means.

    the problem is, most of microsoft's products are crap, and i evade them as much as possible. so, what am i going to do now, since i am being cashed by microsoft even when i do NOT use their product ? pirate the other software which was supposed to be NOT microsoft ? this is a pinch.
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @12:53PM (#38675806)

    The worst part of this was revealed by Barnes & Nobel when they said that part of the demanded secret licensing agreement was that it gave Microsoft design approval over future devices. That should never have been agreed to, or allowed. Giving Microsoft that power allows them to control the entire future progress of the Android hardware ecosystem, meaning that they could cripple future Android hardware because their Windows phone is not competitive. It would be like AMD not being allowed to release new processors without Intel approval. If that had ever happened do you think that AMD64 would have ever seen the light of day?

Unix is the worst operating system; except for all others. -- Berry Kercheval

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