Boycott against corporate greed

Boycott against corporate greed

Summary: Yesterday news came out that Microsoft is boasting about a total of 10 patent deals being signed so far, with Android phone manufacturers. In case you haven't been following these so-called "patent deals", Microsoft has been keeping a long list of Android manufacturers and has been checking off one by one on its list to keep Google's Android phones from continuing their dominance of the mobile phone market.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Open Source
14

Yesterday news came out that Microsoft is boasting about a total of 10 patent deals being signed so far, with Android phone manufacturers. In case you haven't been following these so-called "patent deals", Microsoft has been keeping a long list of Android manufacturers and has been checking off one by one on its list to keep Google's Android phones from continuing their dominance of the mobile phone market. But why? Microsoft claims that the Android phones violate multiple of its software patents. And they probably do, since Microsoft has been able to get away with these deals with so many companies so far and also has the power and means register thousands of patents.

But let's step back and look at the big picture. Microsoft didn't start proposing these deals until Android started to grow and gain high market success. To me, it's just plain old greed that's getting the best of Microsoft. And now Microsoft has the legal means to squeeze everything out of Android that it can, hoping to help its struggling Windows Phone 7 in the mobile phone market. Microsoft is betting on mobile phone manufacturers to change to Windows Phone 7 because they are the ones getting stuck paying the fees to Microsoft. It's a great situation for Microsoft, but it is costing Android manufacturers a fixed fee per device, which they may end up passing down to the consumer. So who gets hurt? The consumer, again. Does Microsoft care? Only if it helps its own bottom line, even at the additional expense of consumers. Microsoft has hurt consumers out of greed time after time, even its own customers.

Microsoft has recently started to call these patent deals "license agreements". To me, a license agreement would be for an active Microsoft product. These patent deals are not about active Microsoft products, but about the competitor's products. Android is Google's operating system, so to hear Microsoft say they are in "license agreements" for Android is just plain wacky. Microsoft has no need to enter into agreements over the competitor's products, other than because of greed.

Hundreds of thousands of protestors have walked the streets of New York's Wall Street to make their statement against corporate greed recently. It's something that governments are designed to protect citizens from, however in the case of software patents, governments have not been able to do anything about it yet. Cases are currently being examined by high courts over software patents, so I suspect Microsoft is trying to get away with everything it can as quickly as possible. It seems every couple of weeks, new software patent deals are announced.

I know companies need to survive, however there is a point where it is overkill to continually thrash about and hurt consumers in the process. As I have mentioned before, consumers have the power to make a statement, just as the protestors on Wall Street have done. And in the case against software patents, not buying Microsoft products is one way to make that statement. I have stopped buying Microsoft products roughly about 10 years ago. I will not support a greedy company that is on a relentless journey to frighten each competitor into shelling out money, with software patents. Microsoft should be meeting its competitors in the marketplace by releasing top quality products that are appealing, not sneak around behind the consumer's backs by cowardly setting up secret patent deals.

Topic: Open Source

Chris Clay

About Chris Clay

After administering Linux and Windows for over 17 years in multiple environments, my focus of this blog is to document my adventures in both operating systems to compare the two against each other. Past and present experiences have shown me that Linux can replace Windows and succeed in a vast variety of environments. Linux has proven itself many times over in the datacentre and is more than capable for the desktop.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

14 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Microsoft believes in charging for its IP, exactly like IBM and every other commercial company. It's not trying to stop people importing or selling Android devices, which is Apple's approach. Perhaps if you weren't consumed by anti-Microsoft hatred you might take a more balanced view?

    How much consumers are actually "hurt" is an interesting question, since the smartphone is essentially a luxury item for people rich enough to indulge their whims. Either way, it's Apple that has piled up $80 billion in cash, and I don't see too many people screaming from the pain of buying an overpriced iPhone....
    Jack Schofield
  • Has MS actually provided any evidence to support their claims of patent violations?
    To me it looks like little more than blackmail - either you pay us protection money or we'll bankrupt you with drawn out legal action.

    It's interesting that they're trying to claim their 'licensing' Android, it's like they're trying to claim possession of Android by a process of osmosis. As in "Well of course we [MS] own Android, after all everyone pays us a licence fee to use it"
    I wonder what the end game will be? MS threatening Linux distributors because Linux infringes patents applying to Microsofts' Android product?

    It's like what MS has done so many times in the past, unable to innovate or compete with anyone else they buy 'em out or sue them to ensure that MS is the only 'choice' consumers have. I simply cannot understand how the hell MS have got away with this for so long, I can't think of any other industry where that sort of behaviour would be tolerated.
    AndyPagin-3879e
  • MS do not have to provide evidence until someone challenges them. The licence deal protects the party-of-the-second-part, in case Microsoft decide to action. The Apple situation is slightly different. Apple are intent on destroying Android by concerted attack.

    What Microsoft is doing strikes me to be akin to a protection racket. The more people they sign up the less likely they are to be challenged. In fact, Microsoft cannot really lose unless Google steps into the ring and asks to see just what Microsoft think they have got. (Of course Google may already know the answer and decide to cower in the corner, instead).

    I wouldn't worry too much about corporate greed. These big companies will spend so much of their time, waving sheaves of patent documents and suing one another that they won't have the time nor the energy to innovate anything worthwhile. T'will be the lawyers and the Chinese that inherit the earth!

    It is all very tiresome really...
    1000099915
  • Hi Jack:

    "It's not trying to stop people importing or selling Android devices, which is Apple's approach."

    On the contrary, reports have surfaced that state that Microsoft IS trying to block imports of Android phones:

    http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/microsoft-continues-fight-against-motorola-seeks-to-block-imports-of-android-phones/

    http://news.yahoo.com/microsoft-continues-fight-against-motorola-seeks-block-imports-154030174.html

    Or how about further reports of Microsoft blocking imports of the Barnes & Noble Nook which runs the Android operating system:

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-03-22/microsoft-seeks-to-block-imports-of-barnes-noble-s-nook.html

    There are countless other articles all over about this.

    Apple? The patent case of Apple & HTC made the news earlier this year, but I don't recall seeing Apple making a huge list of vendors to sign secret patent agreements with, checking them off one by one. With this said, I don't agree with Apple's moves, but they haven't been as numerous as Microsoft's. Could you provide evidence to back up your statement about Apple blocking imports specifically?

    There's no doubt Apple has a huge pile of cash, just like Microsoft, and has had software patent cases, just like Microsoft; however Microsoft has taken this unfortunate fault in the patent system and is leveraging it everywhere it can. To me, this is very wrong.
    Chris_Clay
  • AndyPagin :
    You definitely make some very good points and I too wonder how this can be tolerated. Personally, I avoid buying Microsoft products, which doesn't do a lot of good until more people start doing the same.

    1000099915:
    That is an interesting take and time will tell what happens. It is surprising that Google hasn't been able to do much against these secret patent deals over Android, or has chosen not to, other than the fact that Google bought Motorola which was a big move.
    Chris_Clay
  • Apexwm,

    MS block until they get the cash - Apple just block.

    Personally, I prefer the former to the latter as it keeps up competition and forces everyone to innovate.
    Edstertech
  • @Jack,
    > Microsoft believes in charging for its IP, exactly like IBM and every other
    > commercial company. It's not trying to stop people importing or selling
    > Android devices, which is Apple's approach. Perhaps if you weren't consumed
    > by anti-Microsoft hatred you might take a more balanced view?

    Let's look at Microsoft's "IP" claims against Android. (Not always easy because Microsoft makes a company sign a Non Disclosure Agreement before it will even say which patents are being infringed!!!) Thankfully, Barnes and Noble blew the whole racket out of the window quite recently. Read all about it at:

    http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20110427052238659

    Points 31 to 37 of B&N's response cover the so-called infringing patents. One patent covers the placing of a loading status icon in a browser. Another covers the loading of information in a web page before an image on that web page has displayed itself. Yet another covers a way of changing properties for a selection of text. And so on.

    Remember, that to be enforceable, patents have to be non-trivial and non-obvious. They can also be invalidated by prior art - i.e. somebody else did it before.

    Now I don't agree at all with what Apple's doing against Android, but you can, at least, see that Jobs had *some* kind of a point: Android does look an awful lot like iOS. But now iOS is starting to incorporate features that first appeared in Android. Apple can't have it both ways!

    Microsoft's claims against Android, on the other hand, are a complete nonsense from start to finish.
    BrownieBoy-4ea41
  • @apexwm
    > however Microsoft has taken this unfortunate fault in the patent system
    > and is leveraging it everywhere it can. To me, this is very wrong.

    Spare us the laughable attempt at self-justification. Haterz gonna hate, after all....

    > It is surprising that Google hasn't been able to do much against these
    > secret patent deals over Android

    It's entirely Microsoft's fault that Google doesn't have the guts to stand behind its product and defend its OEM users, of course.

    Still, it's interesting that your tediously boring anti-Microsoft hate campaign doesn't extend to Oracle, which is suing Google and demanding that all copies of Android are impounded and destroyed. (Larry and Steve always were best mates.)
    Jack Schofield
  • > Spare us the laughable attempt at self-justification. Haterz gonna
    > hate, after all....
    Honestly, Jack. All these years as a journalist and you still haven't worked out that when you attack the person, you merely demonstrate your own inability to counter his or her arguments.

    > your tediously boring anti-Microsoft hate campaign doesn't extend to Oracle,
    > which is suing Google and demanding that all copies of Android are impounded
    A couple of years back, I read a biography of Mao Tse-tung. As you might imagine, the author - I forget his name now - had some rather harsh things to say about his subject. And yet, at no point did I feel any urge to contact him to ask why he'd listed all of Mao's atrocities when Hitler and Stalin were so much worse. (The thing is, you see, his book was about Mao.)
    BrownieBoy-4ea41
  • @ Jack Schofield:

    "Microsoft believes in charging for its IP, exactly like IBM and every other commercial company...."

    No, not at all like "every other commercial company"--more like SCO/Caldera, a dead and unlamented IP extortion racket whose lawsuits against Linux were largely funded by Microsoft.

    What Barnes & Noble had balls enough to disclose [http://www.groklaw.net/pdf2/MSvB&Nanswer.pdf] is that Microsoft believe in :
    • acquiring patent protection by illegally misrepresenting the prior art;
    • illegally broadening the scope of its patents in seeking injunctive relief;
    • conspiring with holders of other significant patent portfolios to suppress competition via cartel behaviour;
    • impermissibly asserting violations of inapplicable patents;
    • obfuscating this behaviour by impermissibly applying NDA protection to public information; and
    • obtaining assent to anticompetitive licensing agreements by threatening protracted- and expensive litigation.

    The patent system was intended to encourage innovation and an open market; its abuse has reached a point that requires intervention. This is a great case where the white hats and black hats are clear; the President could effect immediate and voluntary reform with the threat of an executive order.
    This may already be allowable at the discretion of the presiding judge: the U.S. Patent Office should be allowed to send an administrative examiner-in-amicus into the courtroom with the power of summary invalidation--mooting disputes over patents which should not have been awarded, and discouraging bad actors from exposing vulnerable patents to civil action.
    anonymous
  • @ Jack Schofield:

    "Microsoft believes in charging for its IP, exactly like IBM and every other commercial company...."

    No, not at all like "every other commercial company"--more like SCO/Caldera, a dead and unlamented IP extortion racket whose lawsuits against Linux were largely funded by Microsoft.

    What Barnes & Noble had balls enough to disclose [http://www.groklaw.net/pdf2/MSvB&Nanswer.pdf] is that Microsoft believe in :
    • acquiring patent protection by illegally misrepresenting the prior art;
    • illegally broadening the scope of its patents in seeking injunctive relief;
    • conspiring with holders of other significant patent portfolios to suppress competition via cartel behaviour;
    • impermissibly asserting violations of inapplicable patents;
    • obfuscating this behaviour by impermissibly applying NDA protection to public information; and
    • obtaining assent to anticompetitive licensing agreements by threatening protracted- and expensive litigation.

    The patent system was intended to encourage innovation and an open market; its abuse has reached a point that requires intervention. This is a great case where the white hats and black hats are clear; the President could effect immediate and voluntary reform with the threat of an executive order.

    If thi isn't already permissible at the discretion of the presiding judge, the Obama Administration should allow the U.S. Patent Office to send an administrative examiner-in-amicus into the courtroom with the power of summary invalidation--mooting disputes over patents which should never have been awarded, and discouraging bad actors from exposing vulnerable patents to civil action.
    patronanej0
  • Oooh--apologies for the double post.
    patronanej0
  • Jack:

    "Still, it's interesting that your tediously boring anti-Microsoft hate campaign doesn't extend to Oracle, which is suing Google and demanding that all copies of Android are impounded and destroyed. (Larry and Steve always were best mates.)"

    You've brought it up many times about other companies like Apple, etc., too. But you provide nothing to back it up. I was still waiting for something on your statement about Apple blocking imports of Android. A single case of one company against another is one thing. But when you see Microsoft bullying a long list of companies, with the sacrifice of lower quality software and damage to consumers, it gets a little ridiculous, which is where it's at today. I don't agree with how other businesses operate as well, but the reason I bring up Microsoft is because (as I have already mentioned before) they choose to go way above and beyond everybody else with bad business practices. If you agree and like what they do, or you pretend to look the other way while they continue with bad business practices, then good for you. After all, it's a lot easier to stand next to the king in power, and cheer for him, rather than do what's morally right.

    patronanej0:

    Thanks for the additional info regarding the Barnes & Noble case. You are right and it will be interesting to see how that one unfolds.
    Chris_Clay
  • If we are really against corporate greed, why aren't we getting full support behind the Tithing Corporation movement being pioneered by tagvillage? This company is the first(to my knowledge) that is truly tithing 10% of their revenue, not profits! to causes worldwide.
    anonymous