back to article Microsoft vs Google patent ding dong gets stuck on repeat

Microsoft and Google are still engaged in a war of words over what Mountain View has claimed is a "conspiracy" against its Android platform. We at Vulture Central recommend you take ringside seats and bring a huge bucket of popcorn for this row, as it shows little sign of slowing down. In the latest round, Microsoft's top …


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  1. magnetik


    Bloody software patents. Put a 3 year time limit on them and let's see which of these giants can survive by being clever and innovative instead of milking others for license fees for something they didn't even invent that is now decades old.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      3 years

      You do realise that 3 years is almost the bare minimum time it takes to have a patent granted? 7 years or more is not unusual.

      Google's own recently granted patent on "Systems and methods for enticing users to access a web site " (aka Google Doodles patent) took 10 years just to be granted after Sergey Brin filed it in 2001.

      The patent offices would need a serious funding increase to change that.

      1. crowley

        patent office funding

        Given how many patents get thrown at these offices, I can see how they run short of capacity.

        Ideally this should be tax payer funded to help 'the little guy' be able to get patents.

        In reality, the tax payer seems to be largely subsidising rich corporates.

        Perhaps the patent offices should be entitled to a fractional income from the licensing fees these patents earn, the inventor/owner should pay a fee to use their own patent, and it should be mandatory to license patents to others at the same fee, and the fraction for the patent office should be set in line to cover their independently assessed costs for processing applications.

        I think that would help innovation reach the market, by permitting profit from invention without blocking competition, and add fluidity to the patent process. Any takers? Ok, critics then?!

      2. Richard 102

        Funding increase?

        No, they need a serious knowledge that they can be fired to get their backsides in gear. When you can't be fired, your productivity drops, now matter what your work ethic is.

        1. Brendan Sullivan

          @Richard 102 RE:Funding Increase?

          That in fact would not really help the USPTO. They are severely understaffed, underfunded and are constantly under pressure to accept any patent that gets submitted, regardless of it's validity under US Patent law (see the incident with the patent for crustless sandwiches). Conveniently for people who like to use poor performance (especially when it is caused by them removing needed resources) as an excuse to argue for stripping worker protections and rights; the massive backlog and wait time for USPTO submission processing started around the time that it was decided that the USPTO couldn't hold on to the revenues it generated, had it's budget and staff slashed and had US laws amended to allow 'Process' and 'software' patents in addition to the existing categories of patent (leading to a huge influx of applications which tend to be invalidated by things like 'prior art' and obviousness.

          What would help is doing away with the software and business process patents altogether (remember software is already eligible for copyright as is a book on business processes) and restoring the USPTO's staff and funding to the point where it can actually keep up with the demands for it's services.

    2. Ru

      Only software?

      Nortel made a lot of the hard stuff, too. This is a more general patent problem you're looking at here.

    3. icanonlyimagine
      Thumb Down

      Short sighted reactionary crap


      Please explain to me how my brother, a highly respected medical instrument design engineer(with patents to his name btw) would survive without the patent protected drug treatment for tissue rejection following a kidney transplant, that took 8 years and over £2 billion to develop. Who would bother to spend the time and money to advance such drug treatments if they are limited to 3 years protection?

      * crickets *

      Get a clue or better still, do the world a favour and stfu

      1. MajorBloodnok
        Thumb Down

        Re: Short sighted reactionary crap

        He said SOFTWARE patents

        Regular patents that allow private drug companies to recoup the money they spend developing drugs - good.

        Software copyright allowing hard working developers to create code without people being able to copy their code - good.

        Software patents - patenting vague ideas like double clicking or progress bars - bad. So bad European law refuses to recognise the wrethed bloody things.

      2. KegRaider

        I think you overlooked the statement.

        Hi mate,

        I believe what Magnetic was referring to was the "Software Patents" which always seem to drag such heated arguements. Patents that are not for a physical medium. I would definately like to see the software patents thrown into a different category, and would support a 3-5 year holding policy. As for medical research, I'll keep my folding PC's running looking for that cure for cancer :)

        Just ask all the Linux supporters what they think about software patents.....

  2. Carl Fletcher

    Bidding with MS wouldn't have helped

    The problem for Google and Android is that it's the 3rd party manufacturers need protecting, not Google themselves. So Google jointly owning patents with MS wouldn't stop what's currently happening, which is the hardware manufacturers are being sued for patent infringement.

    1. Shaun 1

      Which is why

      MS offer protection for WP7 OEMs. Anybody sues the OEM for patent infringement, MS take the case

    2. DZ-Jay

      @Carl Fletcher

      But that's just the point. It is hypocritical from Google to claim that *everybody* else's use of patents is bad and that their exerting patent rights is wrong, when Google itself was attempting to purchase patents to exert rights themselves.

      Consider this:

      MS: You stole our stuff, we'll sue you.

      G: You can't sue me, your patents are bogus!

      < Nortel put their patents for sale >

      MS: Wanna join us to buy Nortel's patents?

      G: Would you stop suing me for the other stuff?

      MS: Nope, you still stole that stuff, so we'll sue you; we'll just agree to share this set.

      G: No thanks, we'll try to buy the lot and sue you back! That'll show you.

      < Google lose bid, MS, Apple, Oracle, etc. own the patents >

      G: No fair! They just bought those to attack me! Patents are bad!!!!!

      MS: We asked you to join!

      G: But you would have sued me for other patents anyway!

      MS: So?

      G: That's wrong! Patents are bad!!!!

      1. hexx

        nice one

        but wrong, it's not Nortel patents what's been discussed here but Novell patents

      2. zelrik


        No it's more like:

        MS: "Hey we have 20k patents, wanna join us to bid on more patent? So that we get more patents and you effectively get NONE AHAH, you won't be able to defend against us :D"

        G: "Huh? Bad Deal.."

        Oracle: " Here Google, this is how to do it, you buy a company like Sun and you use their patents to sue somebody (in that case, that would be you :D) so that you get your money back from your purchase O_O. Free companies are free :p. Thanks to patents"

        G: " Oh shit, we need more patents to defend ourselves"

        MS: "No you don't. Just bid with us. We'll sue you anyway. Everybody will sue you, just because we can and you can't fight back. Ahahahah"

        Apple: "Yeah, that s right, just sue the fuck out of Google :D. We have 20+ k patents too. Just sue the fuck out of Google instead of making better products, that's money put to good use."

        G: " We need more patents do defend ourselves..."

        1. johnnymotel

          barbed ending

          "Just sue the fuck out of Google instead of making better products"

          think a lot of folk/users would contend that....

          MP3 player....much better product than the others

          Smartphone....probably reinvented the category, slipping on some features, but still a good product

          MacBook Air....upset the applecart on lightweight, fast, notebooks, so much so Intel is giving the OEM's all the help they can to stay in the game, read Ultrabook

      3. brainfail

        More accurately...

        The point is Google needed those patents to defend themselves from Apple/Microsoft litigation.

        Consider this:

        M: Hey Google you are infringing some of our thousands of patents! Consider yourself sued!

        G: You cant be serious. These patents are for stuff that anyone could have thought up or things that other people thought of first and have been standard practice for years. Your suit has no merit.

        M: Yeah whatever. Thats the way the system works and we have been doing this for years. Weve got tons of this crap proving we invented everything and you've got almost nothing.

        <Nortel puts their patents for sale>

        G: If I buy this stack of equally absurd bundle of patents that Microsoft and everyone elses products infringe on then Microsoft will have to drop their suit - otherwise we will sue them right back! Thats how this crazy game works right? Mututally assured destruction!

        M: Hey Google (snicker) you want to buy these patents with me and Apple?

        G: But if we all shared these patents then we couldnt use them to defend against your ridiculous lawsuit. They would be worthless to us and we would be throwing money down the drain. Why would you even ask us to join?

        M: No reason (snicker)

        < Google lose bid, MS, Apple, Oracle, etc. own the patents >

        G: Lets take this to the court of public opinion. "People of the internet - Microsoft is playing dirty by using this ridiculous patent system to try and beat us because they dont think they can compete anymore! Look - Microsoft and Apple even bought a bunch of patents together as they conspire against us!"

        M: Ha ha ha! But we offered you the opportunity to buy these patents together! There was no conspiracy - we were even trying to be your friend and work together in peace and harmony forever! Look everyone!"

        <Tech world goes off and writes a bunch of stuff about how Google was being dishonest and Microsoft are really trying to do the right thing>

        G: ...are you serious?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Simple solution

    If Android isn't a bloated bug-filled bag of crap then the chances are they ripped off nothing from MS...

    1. Andrew 66

      Simple resolution... they stole everything about Android then...

  4. Microphage

    Paranoid Android or naughty Redmond?

    "Microsoft's objective has been to keep from Google and Android device-makers any patents that might be used to defend against their attacks. A joint acquisition of the Novell patents that gave all parties a license would have eliminated any protection these patents could offer to Android against attacks from Microsoft and its bidding partners"

  5. MajorBloodnok

    Ooooh there's a lot of deliberate ingenuity going on here...

    Frank's rebuttal (which carefully avoids the accusation that the Nortell patents are going to be used to try to screw some more ill gotten gains out of Android) is pretty fatuous...

    "Why? BECAUSE they wanted to buy something that they could use to assert against someone else."

    Well yes. Specifically Microsoft, who have agressively using software patents to try to screw money out of Android. Hence making entering a joint agreement with you rather pointless.

    "reducing patent liability across industry"

    ???? Across the industry my arse. Across the partners in this rather cozy little group maybe. What it really translates to is "We offered you the opportunity to buy into our gang of companies and you said no! Why? We can be trusted! Look at our long track record of not using software patents to bully money out of other companies!"

    1. Ru

      Think about how cartels work, for a moment.

      Google wanted the patents to attack the cartel. If they'd joined the cartel, they wouldn't be able to attack apple or microsoft with them.

      Defensive my arse. They could have signed up to reduce future licensing issues; a perfectly defensive strategy. Instead they want MAD, and suddenly find themselves without any weapons at all.

      1. MajorBloodnok

        Not exactly, no

        "They could have signed up to reduce future licensing issues; a perfectly defensive strategy."

        Well not really. If these software patents where ther only software patents in the world that mattered then it would be perfect. But that's not the case and MS and Oracle are already actively trying to screw Android at the moment with dodgy patents. Entering into this cartel wouldn't have stopped that. It just would have just taken these patents out of game, at the expense of being seen to be climing into bed with MS and Oracle.

        "Defensive my arse"

        What exactly are you basing that on? There's a difference between holding something as a deterrent and using it to aggressively go after someone. There's no reason to believe google would have used these patents aggressivley given their track record, and every reason to suspect MS would have used them aggressively given half a chance - the DOJ thought it likely enough to necessitate them stepping in after all.

  6. Eldnah

    Author FAIL

    "Arguably, Google is on the ropes at the moment, given Smith's comment about inviting the Chocolate Factory to join hands with MS and bid jointly for the patents."

    This sentence shows the author did not understand Google's argument (or chose to ignore it). Granted, Twitter limits may have hampered Google's ability to lay it out, so here's a quote from PJ at Groklaw:

    "The attacks are already happening, and if Google had agreed to a cross-license with the Microsoft/Apple/Oracle/et al group, then any of them could sue Google over *other* [non-Nortel] patents, and Google would not have been able to counterclaim with any of the Nortel patents to defend itself."

    That's because members of a patent-purchase consortium usually make a binding agreement not to use the purchased patents against each other. There, isn't that better?

    Disclaimer: I don't work for anyone involved (but I used to be a contractor for M$ back in the day). Now I'm just a satisfied Google user who's run free-as-in-freedom software for the last decade.

    Hmm. Where's the Devil-disguised-as-Ballmer option?

  7. mickpatriot

    Microsoft has made this a hobby

    Microsoft has stolen, bullied, bankrupted (in court attacks even though they were wrong they had the deep pockets and lots of lawyers), bought and shelved the compitition from the beginning. Plus nothing MICROSHIT has ever released worked as advertised. It is the worst software on the market and the most popular something I have never been able to understand. They stole the origianl code from xerox in the first place they didn't invent anything. They stole, bought, or bullied any good idea they ever laid claim too. Why they were in anti-trust litigation just a few short years ago. I loved a couple of great browers like sprynet, never heard of it, MicroSHIT kept in court until they bankrupted then bought the company and shelved the software in favor of the most hackable crap around.

    Not to mention the testamony of billy gates to congress for more H1 visa so they could lay off more Americans in favor of cheap imported labor.

    Any one with half a brain should dispise MicroSHIT and prey for software that works!

    1. Feralmonkey

      Jealous much?

      WOW sounds like somebody is worried that Gates has A bigger...... well anyway the point I am going to make is Bill did not steal the Idea from Xerox that was done by a man named JOBS (history will bite you in the A$$ if you don't care to read it) Gates did steal it from Jobs but lets get the order correct OK.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't add up.... Google are complaing that this patents would of protected them. So why not bid, it's not like they are short of cash?

    Next if Google did win, who'd say they wouldn't then use them against the others?

    This really does sound like cry baby tactics

  9. mickpatriot

    bohica195 returns

    back in '98 I had a run in with billy gates! Got this new operating system win98. Lost my sound card. Of courss microshit tried to blame the manufacturer first, then the sound card software, my simple point; it worked before I installed win98! luckily they were going anti trust litigation and I start talk of a class action lawsuit for false advertising and selling software that didn't work and knowing when it was released. I though t we should all get a pertial refund. Well old billy was terified and Ballymore was assigned to 'make me go away'! He called my cell phone and asked what I wanted, I said I want my sould card back. So that next Saturday old Ballymore and his team of programmers spent the day with me fixing the bug.

    Before that I was working a major telephone company when they first rolled out NT. Needless to say just like everything else microshit released it didn't work. Everytime the server swapped drives the operating system crashed. Anyone old enough to remember 3.1 load a word doc from floppy take out the floppy and the system crashed it did not ask yo to put the disk back in it just locked up. Same bug in NT. Once again microshit insisted it was not their issue but the disk manufacturers. I proved other wise. The very nesxt day the office was crawling with red eyed microshit emplyees working on resolving this bug. Now it asks you to replace the disk.

    Last but not least if microshit is any good why does microshit run UNIX on their servers?

    1. Chris 244

      You need to file another bug report

      Evidently, your spell checker is not working either.

    2. Naughtyhorse


      that they got to be the biggest software company in the world then really isnt it.

  10. hexx


    please, follow the subject

  11. Gil Grissum


    Mikersoft runs Unix on their Servers because their Server software doesn't scale well. They can't compete on innovation, so they buy companies and patents. Don't freak out when it turns out that Windows 8 has a ton of Linux code in it via patents. Don't be too shocked when the mobile and desktop Windows combine and it's found that Linux brought stability and security to Windows via those patents. And it's perfectly reasonable for Google to think that MS, Apple, and Oracle are in bed against them because each company has or is suing either Google or a Smartphone Manufacturer who makes an Android phone. None of those three wants to see Android succeed. TWO of them because of competing products of their own and one because of Java.

    1. Matt Bucknall


      Apple and Microsoft do not want to see Android succeed for obvious reasons. However, I suspect Oracle do want it to succeed, so long as they get the cut to which they believe they are entitled.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Is that the same way Android beats Windows Phone on performance? That's totally sarcastic by the way, and if you haven't used a WP don't bother replying. Also another personal experience we are moving our Solaris servers databases to a Windows server SQL Server cause it's 3-5x the speed and costs 1/5 of the Solaris boxes and software. I can inform you that it scales fantastically well too.

  12. fritsd
    Black Helicopters

    Pay no attention to the trolls behind the curtain

    It is very possible that Microsoft would never attack Google directly with software patents.

    Instead certain legally independent "intellectual licensing" companies, such as Intellectual Ventures and Interval Licensing LLC, might suddenly become interested to sue the pants off of Microsoft's perceived "enemies".

    You know, for old times' sake.

    See also U.S. patent 6757682 "alerting users to items of current interest"

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Imagine this

    Let's suppose BMW spends billions of dollars and develops a new car with a very attractive shape, intuitive controls, a new type of engine (using existing concepts from the aircraft industry). As soon as they release it, Hyundai just slavishly copies the shape, the controls, engine (everything but the logo). BMW should not be angry. They cannot sue Hyundai because their engine design is based on things already known from the aircraft industry, their controls are so obvious that they cannot be patented, and the shape/design of anything can not be patented.

    BMW should be innovating and not litigating. They should be busy creating the next design that Hyundai can copy.

    1. Arion

      Bmw patenting the airlines inventions

      Based on your analogy, I'd consider that BMW's car shape, should be protected by copyright, rather than patents. If the controls are obvious, then yes, they should be unpatentable

      I can't believe you're implying that prior art, the inventions of the airline industry, should be patentable by BMW.

  14. Mikel

    Publishing emails is bad

    When legal executive emails are published by the publicist, that sends a chilling message to people who might want to conduct business with you via email. If you want to negotiate on Twitter, negotiate on Twitter. Don't move emails to Twitter.

    It's amazing that this needs even be said.

  15. ZenCoder

    Software Patent Bubble

    These corporations have billions invested in software patents. If they lobbied for reform the software patent bubble will burst and they will instantly lose billions in assets, not to mention revenue from royalty payments. Wall street would freak out as usual and It would get real ugly real fast.

    What company is going to lobby to destroy billions of its own assets. What politician is going to vote for finical turmoil in the tech industry?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You can see what's happening in china with all the copies or software, hardware, KIRF, designs etc, imagine what would happen if there were no software patents, all for free. Who says that the new system will be better anyway?

    2. mikebartnz

      You're right

      You're right none of them have the balls to do what is right.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Oracle

    "I suspect Oracle do want it [Android] to succeed, so long as they get the cut to which they believe they are entitled."

    Which in Oracle's case usually includes the right to squash it in future and have the option to cheaply acquire bits of the wreckage they think might be useful. It's just how Larry plays the game. Oracle were Sun's best buddy for years before they put them on the RAC. Then Red Hat & Dell were Oracle's best buddies for years.

    I can see Oracle eventually buddy up to Google because Google is far less their natural enemy than IBM, Microsoft or SAP is. What Oracle don't want is Google going all Sun-stupid on them.

  17. Snarky
    Thumb Down

    I decide?

    There isn't enough data to determine whether Google, Microsoft or only the consumer will be shafted in the end, but reading this article did provide adequate evidence to conclude that some who write for the register do so poorly.

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