Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

Summary: Patent rights in this scenario do for Microsoft what bundling did for it in the early 1990s. They get rid of competition.

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The Microsoft strategy against Android owes less to Ray Ozzie than it does to John Roberts.

As I noted at the time, the non-decision in Bilski vs. Kappos gave companies a green light to try and sue innovation out of existence.

This nightmare has now come to pass.

The problem with software patents, as opposed to those for drugs or medical devices, is that they don't cover the way you do something, but the idea of doing something.

Thus, Microsoft claims to control the syncing of e-mail between the Web and a mobile device. You can't innovate around the patent, as you might around the patent for a new pacemaker.

This is what makes software patents so dangerous. They place an ever-larger tax on innovation, because innovations are always based on what came before. And if you can't innovate around an idea, then you must pay for it. And pay and pay and pay.

So we come to Android, which is drawing patent suits the way a fumble does 300-pound linemen. Microsoft is telling Android phone makers they must still pay it for use of its patents, that it might cost them less in Intellectual Property rights fees to go with Windows than with Linux.

In that scenario Windows doesn't have to be better. It doesn't even have to be as good. It just needs to be in the ballpark.

Patent rights in this scenario do for Microsoft what bundling did for it in the early 1990s. They get rid of competition.

Yes, this is a dangerous game. Other companies have big patent portfolios, not just Microsoft. Customers won't like being denied choice, and being forced to buy inferior products at monopoly prices. You could have either a patent "nuclear war" -- everyone suing everyone -- or potent political blowback.

These are questions for another day. For now Microsoft's patents are putting it back in the game, putting enough Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt into the minds of manufacturers that its offerings will get a hearing, and will likely find a place in the market.

How will Google respond, given the relatively small size of its patent portfolio compared with those of its proprietary rivals? How should it respond?

Topics: Microsoft, Android, CXO, Google

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50 comments
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  • Lets hope for a political blowback

    and a reform of the patent system - especially the way it works in the US.

    Patenting ideas is utterly ridiculous. If someone locks 10 mathematicians in a room for a year to come up with a new compression algorithm for video - fine. That should probably be patentable.

    But one-click shopping, wireless gaming, pinching gestures and the idea of synching emails. Nope!
    honeymonster
    • RE: Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

      @honeymonster
      New idea won't get you a patent, you have to implement it -- and be the first one to implement it.
      FADS_z
      • That statement is incorrect

        @FADS_z

        Actually, you do NOT need a functional implementation. See all the patents for anti-gravity devices. :)

        You do have to be first to file, though...
        wolf_z
      • RE: Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

        wolf_z
        For machine, you have to have drawing/design in your file.
        FADS_z
      • RE: Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

        @FADS_z

        As wolf_z said, you do not need a working implementation to get a patent. A working version is only needed when there's a dispute between 2 companies trying to patent the same thing and whoever had the product on the market first gets it.
        Darkninja962
    • RE: Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

      @honeymonster
      only the tea party and conservatives like Sarah Palin are our only hope to change the corrupt patent system.
      Linux Geek
      • First you'd have to explain the patent system to them

        as their depth of knowledge on any subject is very shallow.
        @Linux Geek
        GoPower
      • RE: Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

        @Linux Geek Got any evidence of that, any proposals from anyone aimed at overturning Bilski or software patents? Or will this happen by magic? Think you can get on President Palin's staff?
        DanaBlankenhorn
      • RE: Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

        @Linux Geek & Sarah Palin

        I'm going to take a wild guess that Linux Geek had his virtual tongue planted deep into his virtual cheek.
        boomchuck1
      • RE: Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

        @Linux Geek
        Sister Sarah might be able to fix the problem if someone can take the painstaking task of helping her understand it. I just don't put that much stock in someone who does not know what newspaper she reads. Some folks have a higher tolerance, for B.S.
        eargasm
      • RE: Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

        @Linux Geek
        What! Do they even know what is a patent?
        If you ask them what is patent, they will tell: "God has plans".
        zoghlamim
  • Just compete

    I wish Microsoft would just concentrate on making great products.
    bmonsterman
    • RE: Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

      @bmonsterman I wish they could. Patents are not a war they wanted.
      DanaBlankenhorn
    • RE: Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

      @bmonsterman
      Guess what? It's call Windows Phone 7.
      illegaloperation
      • RE: Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

        @day2die,

        I hope it gains traction in the market place. Other successful mobile OS's have really become entrenched. Windows Phone 7 will have to offer something new, not just be "as good as".
        bmonsterman
  • RE: Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

    You want to have many patents?
    You need a huge investment in R&D.
    FADS_z
    • Or deep pockets...

      to buy someone elses R&D. Or just a lot of people with a lot of free time encouraged to come up with ideas that may or may not be worth anything today, but may be ammunition against competition in the future. Filing patents isn't very expensive.
      jasonp@...
      • RE: Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

        @jasonp@...
        buying R&D is fine -- still investment, and not free.
        FADS_z
    • RE: Microsoft strategy against Android comes together

      @FADS_z or really deep pockets to buy them.
      zclayton2
  • Tell MS to F-Off

    Someone with a set of cajones needs to bring this to court.

    For MS it's business as usual and using tactics that would make Tony Soprano proud. "Use our stuff or else".

    And for the rest of us - send MS a message and STOP BUYING THEIR PRODUCTS. I've done it and it's easier than you think.
    itguy08