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Microsoft using patents to push Acer, ASUS away from Google?

updated 09:25 am EDT, Tue October 26, 2010

MS said bullying Acer, ASUS over Android patents

Microsoft may be using its alleged Android patent ownership to intimidate Acer and ASUS into shying away from Google operating systems on their devices, sources claimed on Tuesday. Having already successfully pressured HTC, the Windows developer is reportedly hoping to collect royalties from all Taiwan-area device firms and make it too expensive to use Android and possibly Chrome OS on phones and netbooks. The deal isn't thought to be a cash grab at this level as neither Acer nor ASUS are big enough, Digitimes' tips mentioned.

Android is often free or very low cost to use for most phone manufacturers, as the usual requirement is only to meet certain minimum guidelines for access to Android Market and key Google apps. Having to license the patents would add $10 to $15 to the cost and would negate one of the advantages of skipping over Windows Phone, although Android and Chrome OS should both be less expensive than the roughly $30 it usually costs for a Windows 7 Starter Edition license.

The pattern follows the same strategy Microsoft has used to try and suppress Linux, where the company has implied it has control of patents and has used the implied threat of a lawsuit to negotiate licensing deals with Novell and other companies. Critics have accused Microsoft of repeating strategies from the 1990s that led to antitrust trials, where the company charged for Windows licenses on each PC even when they shipped with an entirely different OS. The Android licensing technique effectively guarantees that Microsoft profits no matter whose platform is used and would reduce the use of Google's platforms.

Until the lawsuit against Motorola, no company had significantly challenged the validity of Microsoft's Linux or Android patents. Microsoft has also noticeably avoided challenging Google directly despite all of the patent claims revolving around Android itself.

The timing of royalty demands from Acer and ASUS would be convenient for Microsoft, as both are becoming more important to Google's mobile strategy. Both should be some of the first to ship netbooks carrying Chrome OS and would be one-time Windows Mobile faithfuls that have since mostly abandoned that platform for Android phones like the Acer Liquid E. Microsoft has simultaneously been losing most of its market share and is just launching Windows Phone, with adding partners and eliminating competition both high priorities.

by MacNN Staff



  1. aardman

    Joined: Dec 1969


    In moments of desperation . . .

    do what you do best.

    Microsoft is not really a technology company. Its primary skill is in the acquisition, extension, and perpetuation of monopoly positions through strategic deal-making, product copying, and a dash of intimidation and coercion. Look at how DOS-Windows and Office became monopolies. Were they ever the best products in their categories? No. But Gates knew how to either outmaneuver or coerce IBM, Apple, and the clone makers.

    Microsoft in its heyday was the Standard Oil of the late 20th century. Now with the mobile business slipping away, its back to basics. Time to pull out the old playbook. This time it won't work.

  1. pairof9s

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What a croc!!

    Unable to compete by creating quality, popular products, Microsoft has to use mafia-style methods to even get its schlock considered by hardware mfg!!

    So what's next....are goose-stepping Ballmer Youth going to bang on my door, demanding that I buy a Mobile 7 phone?!!


  1. mytdave

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Typical M$

    If you can't compete on the merits of your product, then it's time to rev up the old anti-competitive machine and set it in motion again, and see if the FTC ignores the antitrust violation.

  1. facebook_Donald

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Oct 2010


    No substance just FUD

    I took the trouble to read all 9 of MS's patents cited in this farce, having read many patents as a professional engineer and in fact being the named inventor on a few. They all have the same characteristics:-

    1. There is no real invention rather there is patenting of an obvious standardised method of doing a routine task such to protect the creation of said de facto standard.

    2. They are broadly drafted so as to attempt to thwart the progress of those seeking conformity to these de facto standards.

    This is not protection of IP from an innovator but rather a monopolistic strategy to squeeze real competition out of the smartphone business - a tactic which we've seen before from MS.

    As these patents are so weak, and MS is a twice convicted monopolist on two continents, I cannot see this going the full 9 yards. It looks like bully boy FUD against the phone and tablet OEMs to force them into promoting MS's inferior overpriced products.

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