There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

Summary: Microsoft, on March 21, sued Barnes and Noble, Foxconn and Inventec -- all of which are involved in selling Android-based e-readers -- for alleged patent infringement.

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Microsoft, on March 21, sued Barnes and Noble, Foxconn and Inventec -- all of which are involved in selling Android-based e-readers -- for alleged patent infringement.

Microsoft is claiming that it has patents on everything from the user interface to tabbing through screens, document interaction and Web surfing, as ZDNet's Larry Dignan noted. Microsoft filed suits in both the International Trade Commission and the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington.

This isn't the first time Microsoft has gone on the offensive against Android via the legal route.

Microsoft sued Motorola on October 1 over alleged infringement of Motorola’s Android smartphones on Microsoft’s patents. On November 9, Microsoft sued Motorola again over wireless and video coding patents that are used by the Xbox and smartphones. In the latter case, Microsoft claimed that Motorola is charging excessive royalties for its patents. Motorola has countersued Microsoft, for those keeping score at home.

HTC paid an undisclosed amount to Microsoft in 2010 to head off potential Android-based patent problems. HTC agreed to pay Microsoft an undisclosed sum to license Microsoft patented technology for use in phones running the Android operating system, Microsoft announced on April 27, 2010.

Novell/Monos' Miguel de Icaca tweeted about Microsoft's latest legal Android-fighting tactics.

Yes, I'd say that's exactly what Microsoft is attempting to establish, in order to slow Android's growth and become a key toll taker on the Android superhighway.

A year ago, I wondered aloud whether the Microsoft-HTC deal was just one more example of Linux companies proactively attempting to head off potential Microsoft lawsuits by paying up. Microsoft has made no bones about the fact that it believes Android is on the wrong side of its IP rights....

.Net and Java expert Ted Neward of Neward & Associates made plain his feelings about Microsoft's latest attempt to derail Android using IP lawsuits:

Do you agree with Neward?

Update: Florian Mueller, of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) patents blogging fame, noted that one of the five patents cited in Microsoft's suits today is common to both the Barnes & Noble and Motorola patent actions.

Topics: Microsoft, Legal, Mobility

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • They name the patents, why hasn't someone investigated

    I'm not a lawyer so I wouldn't be sure myself.
    Will Farrell
    • Corruption

      @Will Farrell

      Software patents are an utter corruption of our system put in place so large companies can kill (or profit from) the innovations of others.

      That being said, the fact that MS must resort to abuse of the legal system to attack Android is a de facto admission that WP7 is an abject failure.
      Tim Patterson
      • failure

        @Tim Patterson we will see.
        jk_10
      • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

        @Tim Patterson <br><br>When did defending your legally obtained patents become abuse of the legal system or an admission of defeat? Companies spend millions of R&D dollars to develop new ideas, technologies, software etc. Should their patents be freely copied by their competition? Absolutely not!<br><br>Companies like Google (with Android), and Korean companies Samsung and HTC (mobile devices) take ideas from American companies like Apple and blatantly copy those patents into their products and then flood the US market with them.<br><br>When was the last time Samsung or HTC came out with something new and innovative on their own?<br><br>It's bad enough US manufacturing jobs have been shipped to Mexico and Asia, now you guys want American companies to allow patent infringements to go unchallenged.<br><br>Clearly you have never had a unique & successful idea/invention that other have wanted to copy. Otherwise, I'm certain you wouldn't tolerate someone stealing your invention.
        Masari.Jones
      • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

        @Masari.Jones
        "...and Korean companies Samsung and HTC (mobile devices) take ideas from American companies like Apple and blatantly copy those patents into their products and then flood the US market with them."
        Just to clarify, HTC is a Taiwanese company, not Korean. Also, they run mobile OS such as Android, WinMo or WinPhone, not iOS from Apple. The hardware components they use to assemble their smart phones are licensed from other companies (few being American). If you claim the patents that they stole from Apple are to do with exterior design or multi-touch, is it at this point, very subjective, because every single smart phone maker probably got some ideas from Apple along the way. Ideas are not patents.
        xaverine
    • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

      This is just another example of MicroSoft 'innovation'. If they can't copy it or steal it (remember Stacker?) then sue. MS has patented all sorts of technology which they have never developed just as a method of stopping someone else from developing it I guess.<br>MS needs a 'visionary' and they have never had one. MS got its start by buying CPM and repackaging it for IBM. I remember back in the early 90s hearing Gates state that the desktop would always be dominant and the internet would be no competition. No visionary there and Ballmer acts like a used car salesman.
      john_gillespie@...
  • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

    Micro$oft also has a patent that involves a one way stream of data used in order to clear space. Nature invented that before M$, it's called pissing and shitting
    d.marcu
    • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

      @d.ma
      "Micro$oft also has a patent that involves a one way stream of data used in order to clear space. Nature invented that before M$, it's called pissing and shitting"
      Could not have said it better!
      kirovs@...
  • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

    They can't ignore that with all their patents and tech staff they can't deliver anything like it. Beaten to market by a bookstore, that's gotta hurt. NoSoft indeed.
    TheLoneDeranger
    • Apple's happy i'm sure

      @TheLoneDeranger
      Less competition. If B&N doesn't pay up for infringing, then people will buy the iPad instead.
      Will Farrell
    • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

      @TheLoneDeranger yah that has to hurt. Kicking MS while they are down.
      sam -<a href="http://wisbirblog.org">wis</a>
      justjackx
  • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

    Innovate, don't litigate. Only those incapable of competing or attempting to protect their market position in the marketplace use lawyers to stop a company & product doing well. In the meantime, it does nothing to stop Android.
    Solid Jedi Knight
    • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

      @Solid Jedi Knight - they did innovate. They got the patent to prove it. Now they're going after others who've violated their patent. Why should everyone else in the world be allowed to sue MS but when MS goes after those that violate its patents, MS is somehow seen as doing something wrong.
      bitcrazed
      • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

        @bitcrazed
        <i>Why should everyone else in the world be allowed to sue MS but when MS goes after those that violate its patents, MS is somehow seen as doing something wrong.</i>
        Why is when another company sues Microosft for IP infringement the other company is wrong, but when Microsoft uses patents (no matter how lame) to hamstring the competition, it is a good thing?

        First patent mentioned, 5,778,372, relates to downloading document text and displaying prior to downloading of background images.

        Is the even patentable? Sounds a bit shaky there, as in just about every webpage does this, and have been doing this for as long as the web has been around.

        Second patent, 6,339,780, is the displaying of a animated element while data is downloading and removing the animated element when the download is complete.

        Nothing new here either, plenty of examples of prior art should be available.

        Third patent, 6,891,551, applies to highlighting and selecting data. Once a section is highlighted, a handle appears to allow more or less data to be selected.

        I am sure anyone that has used Photoshop is aware of this. Again I am sure there is plenty of prior art.

        Fourth patent, 6,957,233, relates to annotation of read-only documents. Storage of annotation includes the file position and annotation in a separate file or in a non read-only portion of the existing file.

        So now we are patenting the use of a highlight marker and notes on a document?

        I sure hope this goes to court, maybe these patents will be dismissed. The only downside is if Microsoft can keep it in court long enough to drive the others out of business.
        Rick_K
      • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

        @bitcrazed
        You mean alleged to have violated their patent.
        elderlybloke
    • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

      @Solid Jedi Knight Patents are the basic form of innovation. Microsoft is actually one of the most innovative campanies in history. They don't produce a tone of animated screen transitions, but they have contrbuted to society like no other company in history -- not even IBM. Microsoft biggest problems these days is not innovation or quality, but speed to market.
      frankwick
      • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

        @frankwick Wrong. Patents are a monopoly granted by the Government. Furthermore, Microsoft's supposed 'contributions to society' are not evidence of innovation. Microsoft has never innovated, although they have bribed *actual* innovators (and, when that failed, stolen from them); even their first product was an implementation of a computer language invented and implemented previously by others.<br> <br>Microsoft's biggest problem is a deeply ingrained philosophy that the ends justify the means.
        gkp00co
      • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

        @frankwick
        Rick_k said it all but frankwick brings up a term that needs to be clarified. "speed to market" used to expressed as "time to market". There is a difference. Let's use quick & fast. Speed is going fast and time is how quick you do it. This differentiation is very important in drag racing, for instance, because how fast you did the quarter mile (say 103mph) can be overshadowed by how quickly you did it in (say 12.34 seconds). Each term denotes different functions of the car and driver. Fast could be the functions of proper fuel and torque specs and quick could be the functions of the cars rear tires ability to lock up, the driver not missing any shifts, and vehicle weight etc., ect., ect. I bring all this up to demonstrate how easy it is split hairs over & over. However success IS IN the details and I'm glad I was able to divert your attention away from Microsoft for just a moment. Don't they control enough of our life without having discuss their ability to sue over the stupidest reasons. Next time you spouse tells you to go to the store and to be quick about it ask them... "do you want me to be quick or... fast"
        angrygolfer
    • RE: There's more than one way for Microsoft to compete with Android

      @Solid Jedi Knight
      Yeah; like Apple suing Amazon for "App Store" phrase.
      Another one of those "can't innovate" companies.
      Come se come sa.
      ChoMlo
  • Microsoft copied Firefox

    Curious they were awarded a patent on tabs in browser, when they copied that from Firefox.

    5,778,372 seems to be patenting a web browser, but they copied that from Mosaic.

    6,339,780 is a 'busy' animation over a web page, copied from Apple.

    6,891,551 ... ahh that takes me back, never make a suggestion to Microsoft, they'll just patent it and pretend they were developing it all along.

    Sigh,
    Look, it's clear that the patent office in the US wasn't doing its job. But the chickens are coming home to roost and the patent office desperately needs to be fixed.

    Patents have become a joke, a tool for failed companies and trolls to attack successful ones. WP7 is failing, so Microsoft is back to its old desperate games.

    But the core problem is the US patent office awards patents to companies that didn't make the invention, it awards them where there is prior art, it awards them where there is no invention, or an obvious or vague claim.

    The proposed reforms to USPTO, actually make it worse, by making a first to file, even when there is prior art.
    guihombre