Android 'stands on Microsoft's shoulders', says MS lawyer

And there is only a modest charge for doing so

A top Microsoft legal eagle has moaned that Android smartphones and the like are profiting from cash that his bosses have invested in research and development.

"These devices have moved from having a rudimentary phone system to being a full-fledged computer, with a sophisticated, modern operating system. In doing that, they have really stood on the shoulder of companies like Microsoft who made all these billions of dollars in investments," Horacio Gutierrez, deputy general counsel of Microsoft's intellectual property group, told the San Fran Chronicle.

Gutierrez was busily defending Microsoft's patent dispute onslaughts, including many against Android handset manufacturers that have resulted in licensing settlements with the Redmond firm. The latest Google buddies to pay up include Samsung, which signed a royalty deal with Microsoft for undisclosed payments on unknown patents in its phones and fondleslabs in September, and similarly Compal this month.

The disputes have led the Chocolate Factory to accuse the tech world of some sort of conspiracy against its smartphone OS.

Back in August, Google's chief legal officer David Drummond said in a blog post that "Android's success has yielded … a hostile, organised campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents".

Gutierrez said "Microsoft has invested for decades more money than anyone else in research and development directed toward the efficiency of operating systems", and it was these efficiencies that its patents relate to.

According to the lawyer, all the smartphone innovation is in the software now, so software ideas have to be a part of intellectual property.

"Many things that earlier were implemented in hardware - think of telephone switching and circuits - are now implemented in software," he said. "So the question of whether software should be patentable is, in a sense, the same as asking whether a significant part of the technological innovation happening nowadays should receive patent protection."

"It's not the idea or the final outcome that is patentable; it's the particular way in which the outcome is brought about. So two different means of getting to the same end would be independently patentable," he added. ®

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