back to article Microsoft inks new patent pacts over Android...and Chrome

Microsoft has inked patent-licensing deals with Acer and Viewsonic that cover devices running both Google's Android operating and its browser-based Chrome OS. The Acer deal covers smartphones and tablets running Android, while the Viewsonic pact applies to tablets and phones running Android as well as Chrome OS. Officially, …


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  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Memo to S Balmer. Job nearly done.

    I guess Samsung is next to fall.

    When will be get to find out exactly which Patents Android (and by implication Linux) violates?

    1. Ian Yates

      The good money is with something FAT32-related at the minimum.

      Probably some vague (and questionable) UI/UX ones thrown in for good measure.

      If only one of these companies asked for more proof than just threats and either leaked the details or at least gave their thoughts on the credibility...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        This will be unpopular but...

        How do you know they haven't? Just because the details haven't been released to the general public does not mean that Microsoft haven't shown each of these companies exactly the patents in question.

        I suspect there may be some merit to them as some big names have now agreed to pay Microsoft license fees while resisting Apples current lawsuit frenzy. Are you telling me that these companies are scared of Microsofts lawyers but not Apples?

        1. Charles Manning

          "there may be some merit to them"

          Not necessarily. Sometimes it is easier to just pay the money.

          The problem with patents is that they stand until overthrown by the courts. That means MS could easily block the import of HTC, or whatever, devices until the courts have determined the matter. This could take years. By the time it gets resolved, it is too late. The opportunity and the market is lost.

          Far easier to just pay the protection money.

          1. cloudgazer

            We know exactly what patents are involved, no need for leaks

            Easy enough to check on places like foss-patents for exactly what MS is asserting against Moto, see the battlemap that Mueller produced, lists of the patents asserted (by both sides) start around page 14.


            So for example:

            5,579,517 ("517") Common name space for long and short file names

            5,758,352 ("352") Common name space for long and short file names

            6,621,746 ("746") Monitoring entropic conditions of a flash memory device as an indicator for invoking erasure operations

            6,826,762 ("762") Radio interface layer in a cell phone with a set of APIs having a hardware-independent proxy layer and a hardware-specific driver layer

            6,909,910 ("910") Method and system for managing changes to a contact database

            7,644,376 ("376") Flexible architecture for notifying applications of state changes

            5,664,133 ("133") Context sensitive menu system/menu behavior

            6,578,054 ("054") Method and system for supporting off-line mode of operation and synchronization using resource state information

            6,370,566 ("566") Generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device

    2. big_D Silver badge

      at least...

      Microsoft are licensing, not blocking. Money grabbing they may be, but at least they are playing fair.

  2. Paul M 1

    This title deliberately left blank

    Can only be FAT32 surely?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Piranha Brothers

    "So Steve got Brad to take me for a scrape, right, and then he splits me nostrils open and pulls me liver out. I said me name's not Google and he nailed my head to the floor. I mean, I had transgressed the unwritten law."

    "What was that?"

    "Oh, well, he didn't tell me,"

  4. majorursa

    It's like the 'help' the mobsters gave the little shopowners in 1920 Chicago by protecting them from arsonist etc...g

    1. Ru

      Still, it is a step up from Google's behaviour

      Which appears to be all demands and no protection.

      Like any other currency, if enough people believe that Microsoft's claims have merit (and therefore value) then they do.

  5. Inachu

    I can see where this is going.

    There will be so many love making session in this IP pact that soon some lawyer will gush and blush," Aw guys just give your stuff to us since we are family already!"

    I am sure some ruse of legal trickery over using FAMILIARITY of technology being used homegenous to "insert technobable word here" that to refuse IP of said pact will cause financial harm and history will show us so close as being bedfellow that we should just claim all the IP for ourselves.

    It will happen.....Maybe not today. Just a matter of when.

  6. Asgard
    Big Brother

    Microsoft are playing the patent protection racket game again

    Microsoft tried this same kind of patent protection racket against Linux. They imply something was illegal in Linux (without revealing the details of their fictitious patents) then used that to intimidate small companies to sign and pay up or risk punishment. Then as more and more signed up, that allowed Microsoft to go after and intimidate even more small remaining companies, saying things like, "look at all who signed they agreed with us", even though the scared companies that signed did so effectively at gun point. Sign or we shoot your business down. It didn't work of course, because the bigger companies told Microsoft where to go. So anyway, now Microsoft are playing the same game, going after Android with the same tactics. (But then don't forget Android is also partly Linux, so Microsoft get to go after Linux again as well).

    These smaller signing companies are paying up now as they know its cheaper and easier for them to give in to sign, rather than go through a lengthy very expensive court room battle, that could take years. Its only bigger companies that would tell Microsoft where to go and shove its paperwork, because they have the money and power to fight Microsoft.

    The patent system is fundamentally broken. Its been manipulated, gamed and biased so many times by the powerful and greedy that its now become so twisted into such a sick perversion of what it was, that it can no longer function as it was originally intended to do so. No inventor can play this modern patent system game, unless they are a billionaire and even then their one patent would be utterly swamped with a tidal wave of hundreds even thousands of other patents blocking them ever using their one patent without treading on other patents. But then thats all part of the patent game these days. If a little inventor invents something in one of these markets the corporations will move in with hundreds, even thousands of other patents blocking the inventor ever doing anything with their patent. Patents are now a way to hold back all competitors who don't have billions in the bank to fight back.

    This story shows yet another reason why we would ironically now be far better off without patents. It would actually be a lot cheaper for all of us. Also it should be about what good products win, not this endless patent legal warfare, with armies of highly paid lawyers and multi-billion dollar IP arsenals to build an effective protection racket against their competitors.

    But then the people with the patents (and the lawyers who earn millions from all the legal fighting) will fight to their final breath to keep the patent system the way it is, because they know they can use the patent system to effectively run a protection racket.

    The patent system is fundamentally broken and this bullshit has to be stopped, but no one in power will stop it. They and their friends are all earning too much money out of it and we ultimately pay for it.

  7. Big-nosed Pengie

    Microsoft *signs*

    "Ink" is a noun; "sign" is a verb (although it can be a noun too).

    Why aren't there penalties for doing violence to the English language?

    1. cloudgazer

      Ink on your face?

      Ink has been a verb since the 14th century, the usage meaning specifically to sign a contract has been around since 1940.

      If you're going to be a pedant at least try to be a well informed pedant.

    2. Mike Bell


      Actually, ink is also a verb. You can loosen your collar now.

    3. Eponymous Cowherd

      Ink is also a verb....

      To put ink on something:

      Dunce cap for you. Stand in the corner and shut up.

  8. Goat Jam

    Two More Go On The List

    Just as well I'm getting past my gadget craving days really.

    I'd rather a good book than a Kindle filled with pdf's these days.

    Oh, and @"This will be unpopular" AC, it's all well and good to say that MS has slapped their victims with the patent details but the fact that they apparently feel the need to wrap these extorti^H^H^H^H^H^H <ahem> "licensing" deals in ironclad NDA's makes the whole sorry mess stink to high heaven.

  9. Mark 65

    This stinks

    So Google rake in the dollars that, presumably, creating this OS full of Google apps and links and giving it away provide them whilst they let vendors rot as far as licensing is concerned. Not sure which annoys me the most - Google's attitude to everyone else, or phone vendors due diligence (or lack thereof) in using Android.

    Given the money involved in per unit licensing, if this is FAT32 related why don't they start using a UDF file system or EXT2 with a driver CD at worst and tell MS to piss off?

    1. Paul M 1


      Non sequiturs aside, are you really saying that these phone vendors would therefore be better off paying Microsoft for the whole system as that's pretty much the only licensable alternative.

      Or buy WebOS I suppose....

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Paul M 1 - buy WebOS?

        and then MS would try and sue that out of existence. Its talking to MS (either as a company or a computer) that costs.

      2. Mark 65

        @Paul M 1

        I'm saying no such thing, that's your incorrect inference. I remember the days when the people that made phones were capable of creating the software that ran them. What I'm saying is, given the open source nature of the Android phone versions, they should be able to DD the code given they are not using the time to write their own. Then they would know what "infringements" MS may start suggesting. The logical one is FAT32, so don't include it. That's my beef with vendors.

        My beef with Google is that it's their baby that they want people using but they have a fuck-you attitude when someone says it infringes. MS, for instance, protect users of their system (even though in this case they are the attacker). They have fought many cases for Windows and don't seem to say "tough shit, your problem for using it". Perhaps that's what you get when you pay for an OS. Love them or hate them it is a different attitude regarding what you made and punted.

  10. Rattus Rattus


    ...are manufacturers still using FAT32? Why not use an open-source filesystem? You can have a conversion layer as part of the USB connection if you need to connect to a Windows PC, or even just include a filesystem driver.

    1. Tomato42

      translation layer

      So I would nee to install 200MB of crapware on Windows for my Gadget to work while with Linux it would work out-of-the-box?

      It's like nothing has changed!

      1. vic 4


        What to read a file system? I'm pretty sure that it would be a lot less than that, unless you are including the bloatware most phones seem to come with for syncing or whatever they do (never bought a phone that had software that working on linux so don't actually know).

        If device manufacturers started to do this you can guarantee MS would start supporting them out of the box. Doubt Apple would though.

      2. Rattus Rattus


        No, the translation layer I meant would be in the phone's electronics. It can present Windows with whatever it expects to see through the USB port, while using it's own, non-patent-encumbered filesystem internally. It just means Windows wouldn't be able to read the MicroSD card through a normal card reader, it'd only be able to read it through the phone.

  11. Microphage

    Microsoft Android patent deals?

    > Microsoft .. has now inked six patent deals in the last 75 days, including pacts with HTC, Wistron, and Onkyo ..

    What's the legality of such patent deals?

  12. auburnman


    It would make sense for Google to demand Microsoft show them what patents are allegedly violated by Android; inking (slang) these deals is surely slander of their product by implication unless they can back up these patent claims.

    "Why aren't there penalties for doing violence to the English language?"

    Because then the language would never develop, and we would still all park our motorised carriages to operate our mobile telephones. Much as I hate to admit it, today's corruption is tomorrow's convention.

    People who habitually eff up "their", "there" and "they're" should be shot though.

  13. Gian


    I remember Bill Gates complaining against the patents in the '80, he copied everything: excel from lotus, windows from xerox, pocketpc from palm.

    Dos & windows were a success because people copied PC from IBM.

    The basis of IP (it's called Paris Convention) states that a patent should be granted only to a REAL INVENTIVE STEP : all the patents they are quarreling nowadays are so stupid and obvious that NEVER should have been awarded

  14. Gian

    madness n.2

    all these companies are MS partners! They all build PSs & windowsphones.

    So this is a suicidal way to mantain the relationships with your partners, I guess there is a scheme in which they can redeem the payments if they build more MS crap.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The best laid plans..

    Software patents are still quite new and were pretty contentious at the time, isn't it time to review whether the patents are effective or severely limit their scope? Having said that Microsoft is beating Google up in the same way many companies pushed the EU etc to act on anti competitive practices by Microsoft and Intel but they did break the law.

    Imho software will always tend to move towards making monopolies if they do not interact with open standards. I definately prefer Googles approach to business where anyone can produce a market app or device with their OS and make it interact with any other system to the old Unix vendors or Microsoft which want the whole market for themselves. Governments should enshrine open standards rather than patents that discourage companies software from interacting and make software more expensive. Patents will ensure that companies will get paid for genuine innovation rather than holding a monopoly as with fat32.

  16. chipxtreme

    Prior art?

    Patent 5,664,133 ("133") Context sensitive menu system/menu behavior

    Granted in 1996 yet I had a RISC OS computer in 1987 that had context sensitive menu system/behaviour exactly like this so surely this patent should never have even been granted in the first place?

    1. cloudgazer

      don't even get me started

      The problem of patents that shouldn't have been granted due to prior art, or due to obviousness is enormous. But after saying that we still have to be careful about the specifics.

      This patent was filed in 1996 but was a continuation of a patent filed in 1993, so it claims priority from that date. Still after RISCOS of course, or Motif, or any number of other windows systems that had a context pop-up menu on right click.

      Second the patent seems to be covering a specific kind of context menu, where the context is determined by the OS based on the 'resource selected' rather than by some rectangular area - I have no idea whether RISCOS used such an object driven approach to menu generation - I'm guessing that MS has at least a semi-plausible argument that it didn't.

  17. Ru

    This is the cost of doing business in the US...

    ...supporting their IP regime.

    I wonder at what point it will make more economic sense for large companies to simply sell their products elsewhere and save themselves the time, hassle and expense of dealing with the US.

  18. mhenriday
    Thumb Down

    Software patents are an abomination,

    good only for stifling innovation and enriching lawyers. They should be explicitly prohibited in law, but instead, we see the US putting pressure on the EU, where «... 3. schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers; ...» are, in fact, excluded from patentability (The European Patent Convention (EPC), Article 52, paragraph 2,), to recognise the patents of this type granted by the dysfunctional US Patent Office. But since US corporations no longer seem to believe that they can earn profits by manufacturing (at least not in the US itself), this type of IP (to be interpreted as «imaginary property») is becoming ever more important to the US government , which does everything it can to push the interests of the corporations concerned, as can be seen in Rick Falkvinge's article here (, which, nota bene, deals with the sister issue of copyrights rather than patents themselves....


  19. 2cent

    Is Microsoft a better investor than you are (Waxing philisophical)

    Paying a Microsoft Tax is interesting, particularly if they invest well to produce a better world.

    They have quite a portfolio of investment, more than most corporations.

    But does it help the citizens of those they take from or is it that a generation of "last man standing" gamers blind to there own behavior.

    It is interesting to note that while some people in the United States wish that the government would stop taking money out of your pocket, although it's perfectly alright for MS to do so.

    Side Note: GDP is very important to politicians.

    Can Microsoft help to create new infrastructure and roads to the future?

    Is a Microsoft world a better world?

    I have to say, I feel more comfortable with Googles' version of the world, even though it may be a bit misleading.

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