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Microsoft insists on patent payments for all Android phones

updated 09:40 am EDT, Mon October 4, 2010

Microsoft says entitled to patent fees on Android

Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer in an interview this weekend asserted that every Android phone maker would have to pay Microsoft. When asked how Microsoft could compete with Windows Phone 7 when Android is free to license, Ballmer argued that it wasn't free and required royalty payouts to Microsoft to use. He pointed to the HTC deal as supporting evidence.

The executive didn't comment on the just launched Motorola lawsuit, which is taking the American phone designer to task for similar issues. Unlike HTC, Motorola has so far insisted that it's not violating patents and has pointed to its own patent portfolio for support. Microsoft has never had its Android-related patent claims tested in court.

A campaign to collect fees from Android could jeopardize its use worldwide, particularly among smaller manufacturers that might not have the resources to pay for a license on every device sold. Microsoft has so far chosen to avoid suing Google itself and is already suspected by many of trying to target companies that have easily quantifiable device figures.

The approach of pressuring companies into licenses or filing lawsuits mirrors an earlier strategy taken for scaring companies away from Linux, where Microsoft made licensing deals with companies using or developing Linux distributions but without having those patents challenged. As with the Linux cases, Android royalties would let Microsoft profit even as it loses market share.

Competition with free OS licenses has routinely been a sticking point for Microsoft. The company was initially in the minority in a Linux-dominated netbook world until it price dumped Windows XP to where it commanded just a $15 premium over Linux. Combined with a more familiar interface, the lower price helped Windows become the majority in netbooks and only just lately faced a setback when Apple launched the iPad and helped decrease netbook sales.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Android's Not Free ...

    ... because we're (MS) going to make you pay for it?

    With MS' track record (not to mention general overall charisma) in courtroom settings, let's hope for a nice long expensive loser-pays-all-fees trial.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. ebeyer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Let the flames begin in ..

    5 .. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1..

  1. JuanGuapo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Ok. Ok.

    I don't own or use an Android Phone. I'm an iOS owner through-and-through. However, this is BS!

    Didn't they try the same thing with Apple a few years ago on the iPhone? Micro$oft can't even make a phone (Kin?) that sells.

  1. Geoduck

    Joined: Dec 1969


    RE: Micro$oft can't even make a phone that sells.

    Those that can, do
    Those that can't, sue.

  1. zunipus

    Joined: Dec 1969


    When you can't compete: Litigate

    Pathetic Microsoft, yet again resorting to bullying litigation against superior technology. In this case Motorola assumes the role previously played by Novell.

    Impending déjà vu: Microsoft once again LOST their fight to 'own' Linux, via their SCO sockpuppet company, this past June:

    "SCO Loses Yet Again; Is It Finally Over?"

  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969


    My favorite part.

    "Competition with free OS licenses has routinely been a sticking point for Microsoft."

    Heck, competition with paid OS licenses hasn't been a walk in the park either.

    It's the ecosystem, kids.

    When you make an elective bit of software that is not tied to the hardware, it's not going to be as automatic as when you had a monopolistic advantage by tying the two together.

    Cheer up, you could always try making your own branded phone hardware!

    What? Oh, wait.

  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Google Android is using Active Sync without a lice

    Apple paid MSFT licensing fees for Active sync to connect to Exchange servers using that protocol but neither Google or the handset makers using Android have licensed it from MSFT.

    Google has been cheating by offering Android for free to handset makers when they should be licensing technologies like active sync from MSFT and then passing on that expense onto the handset manufacturers.

    This is one of the few times that I am with MSFT on the issue.

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Microsoft isn't making any money from its

    own mobile solution, so this is as good a way as any to earn some cash. Just like the 300 lb. homeless guy who stands in front of stores with one hand outstretched for cash and a bat in the other. Just kidding about the homeless guy, but revenue is revenue. You do whatever it takes to survive. Anyway, I knew Motorola was going to get screwed somehow. Motorola is always making poor decisions and ends up paying for them dearly. I'm sure costs will get passed on to the end user if Microsoft wins the case.

  1. pastusza

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Exactly what patents are violated?

    Microsoft did this with Linux a few years back. Claiming that Linux infringed on Microsoft patents, but they never once revealed which patents it violated.

    Until they start getting specific, there is no way anyone is going to pay out.

  1. pairof9s

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Ballmer method

    This is the quintessence of Ballmer's leadership...FUD. Try to intimidate and discourage the sector leader(s) in hopes of catching up for Microsoft's standard lack of industry vision.

    Well, Monkey Boy, Google is no hodge-podge of Linux developers nor a relative small company like Netscape. You better lawyer up in the millions to get this even to court, fat man!!


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