Feeds

Study: Users pay for Microsoft patent woes

'Patent tax' of $21.50 each

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Each copy of Windows cost users an additional $21.50 "patent tax" to cover Microsoft litigation bills, the Software Freedom Law Center claims.

The SFLC, which provides legal representation and services to promote free and open source software, said customers are the ones splitting the bill for Microsoft's ceaseless patent-related lawsuits and settlements.

The organization's directors include industry notables such as Eben Moglen and Lawrence Lessig.

Their math to reach this conclusion is rather straightforward: SFLC estimates Microsoft has publicly paid more than $4bn over the last four years to plaintiffs such as Sun, Novell, InterTrust, Alcatel-Lucent, and z4 Technologies who claim Windows and Office products infringe on their patents. Additionally, using a quote from Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith, the organization estimates Microsoft paid about $300m in legal fees over that time.

Using a figure of 200 million new Windows installations every three years, they reach the conclusion:

4.3 / 0.2 = 21.5

According to SFLC researcher Matt Norwood each Windows licensee forking-over an extra Jackson and Washington is probably a low-ball figure. The litigation amounts consist only of figures made public and Microsoft is likely to inflate the Windows instillation numbers. A higher cost amongst a smaller population would increase the financial burden for each customer. The organization also believes North American and European customers who pay more for Windows share a larger amount of the load.

It's not altogether surprising that SFLC concludes by recommending the Linux operating system.

The organization's simplistic approach to calculating such a large corporation's legal expenses affecting product pricing is bound to draw some criticism. ArsTechnica notes that the OEM price of Windows XP did not rise during the period of study, and the cost of Vista with equivalent functionality has not increased. And of course Microsoft's prices are a reflection of demand and how high a price people are willing to pay, more than fee compensation.

Norwood concedes the $21.50 headline figure probably isn't a literal price increase from having to handle law disputes. However, he said it's important to recognize legal costs from patent disputes are being passed from developer unto the user.

And there certainly isn't a shortage of them in the tech industry. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.