Aluratek, Coby license Microsoft patents for Android
Device makers join majority of Android vendors in paying tribute to Redmond
Two more makers of Android-powered devices have signed patent-licensing agreements with Microsoft, proving yet again that Windows Phone doesn't need to match Android's sales for Microsoft to eat part of its lunch.
The two latest companies to ink deals with Redmond are Aluratek and Coby Electronics, both of which manufacture low-cost tablets and e-readers based on Android. They join what Microsoft says are the majority of Android vendors in licensing Microsoft intellectual property for their use of Google's open source mobile OS.
"The licensing agreements with Aluratek and Coby Electronics demonstrate yet again that licensing is the path forward to resolving intellectual property disputes within the industry, and can be effective for companies of all sizes," Horacio Gutierrez, vice president of Microsoft's intellectual property group, told The Reg in an email.
As for details, Redmond is staying mum. Gutierrez declined to disclose the financial terms of either agreement, or even to identify which specific patents the two companies had licensed. All we really know is that Microsoft will receive royalties from both companies.
That's been pretty much par for the course in Microsoft's ongoing patent shakedown of Android vendors. Other companies that have reached agreements with Microsoft on similarly undisclosed terms include Acer, Casio, LG, and Samsung.
Microsoft hasn't been shy about suing alleged infringers, either, although it maintains that licensing is its preferred way to resolve such disputes.
But not every Android vendor is taking the situation lying down. Motorola Mobility, now a Google subsidiary, has blasted back at Microsoft, claiming the Redmond giant's Xbox 360 videogame console infringes Motorola patents related to streaming video. The result has been a protracted court battle that one judge has described as "arrogant" and "based on hubris".
"The court is well aware it is being used as a pawn in a global, industrywide business negotiation," US District Judge James Robart told Microsoft and Motorola at the end of one hearing.
It seems Aluratek and Coby thought it better to do their negotiations in private. ®
US protection racket
It works with a visit to Littlecorp by Bigcorp's lawyers. Bigcorp shows Littlecorp half a dozen dodgy patents they claim Littlecorp are using. Littlecorp look at them and say these patents are invalid. Bigcorp then says, "so what, you'll be bankrupt by the time you've proved they are, and if you aren't then we'll find a few more patents and start again with those". Littlecorp licenses the patents and agrees not to disclose the terms or which patents are licensed, or they have to pay twice as much. You only get to find out which patents are being used if Littlecorp has deep enough pockets to fight.
All the larger corps have patents of their own, and agree to cross license.
I'd be interested to know to what extent this affects prices of goods in UK/EU markets where fewer patents are allowed and software as such isn't patentable.
Re: patent extortion
Actually the FAT32 issue should never have been allowed as the point here was MS did some stupid things for compatibility reasons and got a patent on it. No one in their right mind would *want* to use FAT32 except for the need to talk to Windows machines (due to their de facto monopoly in the desktop arena, and inability to read/write much else then FAT or NTFS).
I am all in favour of protecting innovation, but anything that is to do with interoperability should be excluded from this.
Also why the secrecy? Any deal that is not public is mighty suspicious and part of patent agreements is they *should* be conducted in the open so that the "value" can be seen for trading, not just to stop predatory agreements being signed, but also to allow investors to see the actual value industry putts on the innovation concerned.
This is a maffia extortion by MS on Android, on all of us.