Smartphones

The Microsoft bully is back

Microsoft is up to their old tricks of gouging smaller companies, claiming patent infringement. This time around it's Samsung. Read Jack Wallen's take on this latest Microsoft bullying.

Well, color me surprised that the tyrant known as Microsoft has taken to doing everything it can to chip away at the competition -- no matter what the cost, what the stakes, or what the perception of the public at large. Here's the deal: Back in April, Microsoft struck a deal with Samsung wherein Samsung would pay the software giant an undisclosed sum for every Samsung handset sold -- get this -- powered by the Android OS. That's right, MS made it's usual claims that Android (along with every company on the planet -- regardless of what they produce) infringed upon patents held by Microsoft. Would they disclose the said infringed patents? Of course not. After all, it's been Microsoft's modus operandi for decades to obfuscate the real truth for fear of looking like a spoiled baby taking its toys and going home.

So there the public was (the public that cared about Samsung and Android) wondering what the sum and the patents were. Well, we now know that Samsung is to pay a whopping $15.00 per Android-based handset sold. Let's do that math:

Samsung sold over 19 million Android-based handsets in the second quarter of 2011. At 15 smackers a pop, that equals $285 Million Dollars.

Really, Microsoft, really? And Samsung is willing to pony up this amount? For what? A possible patent infringement that Microsoft will not release. Could this be the same patent infringement Microsoft has claimed (for years) that Linux dips its toes into? If so, we know how that lawsuit played out.

I say that Samsung backs out of the deal, folds its arms, and dares Microsoft to take them to court. Why? Because I (and many like me) want to know what this patent infringement is and if it's worth $285 million per quarter.

May I don my conspiracy theory hat? I believe this is Microsoft coming to grips with the fact that their own take on the mobile market has failed over and over and over. They don't get mobile (just like they didn't get portable music players) and they never will get mobile. But MS isn't big enough to just pull out gracefully. Instead they want to get the cut they probably don't deserve. They refuse to take their loses like an adult...be the gracious loser and pull out of a market they don't belong in.

But then again, this is simply the way Microsoft rolls. They refuse to accept the fact that they too, like so many others, can fail. They hold on so tightly to the days when they were the only player in the market and the powers that be didn't hold them accountable for anything. They were a monopoly and everyone seemed afraid to do anything about it. But now, after how many class action lawsuits, they are held accountable for their actions...except maybe this time. Should the controlling bodies allow such behavior without full disclosure? Shouldn't Microsoft be held to the same expected transparency we demand from all other major companies (or governing bodies)?

It just seems to me that Microsoft is once again playing the part of that playground bully and no one is stopping that bully from pantsing the little guy. Microsoft seems to fully understand the definition of crazy -- doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Only this time, it seems, they are getting different results and Samsung is paying a piper that doesn't deserve to be paid.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

157 comments
boxfiddler
boxfiddler

I hadn't realized the bully left...

tedw
tedw

Samsung struck a deal with Microsoft. I am sure they did not agree to pay $15/per because Microsoft makes them feel warm and fuzzy. So, you are pissed that two companies made an agreement? Or, are you just wrong?

skh1825
skh1825

Whether it's a lawsuit or a patent thing, companies are simply going to pass the extra cost on to you and I!

fncatsailor
fncatsailor

What fluff. No detail. Just take another free shot at Microsoft. Do you believe for one min. that Samsung is willing to pay unless MS has them nailed. Why should MS reveal patent details to satisfy someone like you who's totally out of the picture and obviously uninformed with an axe to grind!?!

therealjunkman
therealjunkman

Simple. As noted already by others, MS IS the bully, the 2,000 pound gorilla in the room. But there is more, and if someone mentioned it, sorry, I missed it. But, for THAT kind of money, you could hire a lot of Lawyer power... I know, I know, MS could hire even more lawyer power. Not my point. The point is, CALL THE BLUFF! If it's NOT bluff, fine, then we would know what 'patents'! In the world that MS and Samsung play in, that kind of money is not what it is to you and I. "First to the door is not the determining factor (officially) for the US patent system, though it is in many other countries." Right on, Think of Elisa Gray. You know, the guy who invented the telephone? Don't know who the hell he is? That's because Bell, who ALSO invented 'a' telephone system, (not necessarily a better one) got there first, or, some claim, bribed an official to back date his patent app. Either way, it was, 'first come, first to get rich'. I think Bell was actually trying to do something good. Teaching the deaf, and trying to help the partially deaf, to hear. But even noble causes fall victim to the ways of the law, and bribes, dirty tricks, and all the rest, are the result. That tells me, it's 'The System' that is what's broken. Another poster asked: WHY do the courts allow this sort of extortion in the first place? (If I recall correctly) Because, it wasn't IN court. The courts never got their hands on it. It was the THREAT of (going to) court that MS used. THAT was the 'extortion', and sadly, it works all too often. Most of the time. Drug companies, lots of companies other than MS use it. And, knowing MS can just outspend them, most of the littler guys cave in. Why do so many 'settle out of court', when clearly, it's frivolous to begin with? Walmart, the countries largest non-governmental employer, settles all the time, as it would cost more to fight even if they win! Back to MS: My own lawyer gave it a name, 'Depocketing' me. (My ex) She was able to outspend me, to the point where I just could not afford to fight any longer. So she won by default. In poker, that's called 'buying the pot'. MS bought the pot, thereby, 'depocketing' Samsung, and the more Samsung pays MS, the less they had to fight with. Or, fight, and have less to pay if they loose! Win Win for MS. That's the way the cookie crumbles. (My two cents, greatly over-valued!)

smileyface522
smileyface522

I love my Galaxy Tab so much I would gladly pay an extra $15. I'm very happy to have a Microsoft free machine. If American courts keep letting Microsoft get away with this their competitors might all move their business to Europe where they get some projection.

Cabo Wabo Addict
Cabo Wabo Addict

as I read this i was wondering which type of fanboy Jack Wallen is... I was leaning towards Apple, but surprise, it was Linux. @ Palmetto... I really think the gull comparison. They are really annoying birds.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

Do you expect anything else from an open source blogger and known to not like Microsoft much to rant about their "bullying"? Here's a thought. You are the CEO of a tech company. You spent millions on a new product that revolutionizes networking. All of a sudden you found out that some other company has basically copied your work that you spent millions on. Do you just do nothing? Is it because you are pro-open source? Anti-Microsoft? Communist/Socialkist? Anti-capitalist? Take that poll in a pro-Microsoft web site and you will see a big difference in the results. And a question. Why is a blogger in the "Linux and Open Source" area writing about Microsoft? Doing this because pro-Microsoft people won't see it [skewing the results]?

phregs
phregs

I think that says what I think. Microsoft have no ethics - they just like to act like Hyena's and feed off other people. Horrid organisation which is a shame as from where they started I quite liked the deal - not any longer.

bistra
bistra

There is an obvious solution and one close to my own heart. It has always been a wonder to me why the US Military don't simple attack Microsoft and blow it out of existence, they like doing that sort of thing, so why not do something useful at the same time? I mean it would be cost effective, relieving the courts of much irritation,, it would close down a criminal organisation now apparently a;so involved in protection rackets. It would certainly enhance innovation (when did Microsoft actually invent anything as distinct from buying it, developing it and marketing it and preventing anyone else from innovating?). An additional benefit is that no-one would be concerned about 'collateral damage', so there will be no backlash from that. The boys would get to play with their toys without adversely affecting the US position in the world as is normally the case. it is an internal matter that would surely have the support of the majority of the long suffering general population. It would not need a United Nations resolution, but in any case China and Russia would almost certainly vote in favour for once, along with the rest of the Security Council and in all probability the General Assembly if their votes were canvassed. You can hardly think of another action that would benefit mankind more with so little cost. Indeed what else is there that would, in a single stroke, enhance the US's moral leadership in the world, excite innovation, free society from the mire of legalities we are presently involved in and lead to a better life for all the downtrodden user masses. (Persnally I have always assumed that Bin Ladin was just another, if more active, frustrated Microsoft user). Further, the military's losses would be minimal if not zero. We could count on Microsoft's software defences not to work (at least without the time to build and implement patches) perhaps someone would die of frustration from involvement with Microsoft but it is hard to see what casualties might otherwise be incurred, so there is a great political benefit as well. It just seems to be one of those obvious things that typically escapes the bureaucracy, One hopes they will get around to it one day...perhaps they are now too occupied with Afghanistan. On the up side they they will have had lots of experience after it ends so maybe they will be then looking for something to do and get around to it then.....one dreams and dreams and dreams. Long Live the FSF!!!

todd_dsm
todd_dsm

Given that all the numbers are correct, a business like Samsung could move forward in confidence spending a percentage of their confidence on its legal staff. EG: if you are 99% confident that you (Samsung) are in the right, break off 30% of your $285m law suit and defend thy self. Or, better yet... Counter-sue Microsoft to insure that it can never happen again. The fact of the matter is that - if they (Samsung) have to defend themselves in this country, the defense can simply say, "we believe this is BS, your honor; please dismiss this case or ask them (MS) to provide some evidence." And, MS would have to demonstrate (under court order) how their business is being hurt by Samsung's shenanigans. If there are no disclosure agreements afterwards, we will hear the details of the outcome. The reason it doesn't make sense is because there is no sense to make of it. Now I'm going to put on my conspiracy theory hat... When Samsung pays, it will set a precedence, thereby opening the door for MS to do this to other companies. If MS does not do this to other companies, then they are either stupid or they (Samsung) have a "special" understanding with MS. That special understanding could include, but is not limited to: compromising photos of Samsung CEO with circus donkeys, phone recordings or, at very least, the CEO has been busted with naked pictures of Bea Arthur. Either way, there's part of the story missing. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I say give 'em the finger; I bet Samsung could find others in the industry to put up a unified front against this type of action, HTC, Nokia - basically anyone that makes a cell phone. That would effectively shut the door to MS phones until they actually made a product that people wanted. PS: Samsung, tell Ballmer that almost everything on a Windows Server (except the UI) was developed on the UNIX platform before MS was ever a company. Who's really stealing here anyway?

asmith9983
asmith9983

When an organisation is run by in my opinion a deranged lunatic, investors will soon realise that MS stock is valueless, and move on.

arfneto
arfneto

"But MS isn???t big enough to just pull out gracefully. Instead they want to get the cut they probably don???t deserve. They refuse to take their loses like an adult???be the gracious loser and pull out of a market they don???t belong in." Basically it seems to me that you think SamSung is naive, Microsoft is bad, and that is all that is important... Do you think that Steve called up SamSung and said "hey, you better pay us good or you will see what happens!..." and the terrified people at Samsung said "oh, sir, forgive us. Just give us an account number"! Not probably.... Chances are Microsoft had a strong case, presented it to samsung and we know just the results. Samsung is a giant corporation as you may know, and not a bunch of corporate idiots... About the mobile phone market... you better take your hands on a few WP7 handsets to get yourself a more polished opinion... I did it and also used a few Android phones and 2 iPhones and there is some strong points on Windows Phone, I think. About the mobile world, one more point: Windows 6.5 is also very productive I believe. And my 4 years old SE K790 symbian phone has copy and paste and multitasking...

jefmud
jefmud

I would like the lawyers and the USPO to revisit the patents. If the patents are legit (and there is NO prior art) Samsung and others should happily pay the licensing fees to the rightful owner, be it Microsoft, Apple, IBM, or someone else!!

mrAverage
mrAverage

Socialism worked so well in in other countries and at other times. BS If you don't like it tough!

mrAverage
mrAverage

Spoken like an APPLE / Linux Lover. Get a GRIP the 800 pound gorilla RULES. Oh poor me ......................

rickle0n
rickle0n

Are the others paying royalties???

rbuyaky
rbuyaky

Right or wrong, I think it's hypocritical to label MS bullies for pursuing patent infringement cases like this while ignoring other companies doing the same thing...Apple vs. HTC, anyone? Oh, that's just Apple protecting their intellectual property...no bullying there.

janitorman
janitorman

Ban software patents and make everything Open Source. You CANNOT patent an "IDEA" it's been proven over and over again, you can only patent the system of use of that idea, such as implementation of hardware. I don't see why ANYone would pay for software, when there is so much Open Source available? I don't see how Google can charge anything for Android, for instance. It's Linux. You can't charge for Linux. You can only charge for upkeep of it (the whole stupid idea of Service as a Product.)

rfolden
rfolden

"...become politically involved in demanding your elected representatives fight to get their elected power back by filing legal actions against these massive actionable acts of corporate terrorism, arresting and prosecuting corporate officers within their jurisdictions for their part in violating every law they trample, and sending them to prison with much public advertisement." You really want the current crop of lame-o elected officials to get ANY amount of power back? Back from whom? These same lame-o elected officials have already "stolen" any amount of power their electors (supposedly us) have had in the past, and now you want them to "take back" any power the corporations may have retained or gained. Then, the lame-o "elected officials" will have ALL the power. Is that really what you want? A government that has absolute power and ALL of it? Wow. Lame-o.

mystic22222
mystic22222

As pointed out in the article, this has been Microsoft's Modus Operandi. That's a legal term meaning it's how the career criminal commits illegal acts as a normal part of his everyday criminal activities. This is not a case that needs to be litigated for monetary compensation for damages stemming from negligence or overzealous competition. Any criminal lawyer in this country could research the history of MS and file criminal claims of under the RICO act of criminal intent and repeat offenses (they've been convicted before) for interstate (hence felonious) monopolistic practices resulting in functional monopoly (economic Assault and Battery), uncountable counts of invasion of privacy, political bribery, and extortion. This latest case is an example of the type of extortion called blackmailing. Any honest claim of patent infringement would include the specific list of patents, as everyone here is uncomfortably aware, and you're momentarily wondering what this secrecy is all about before returning to your overbooked lives. Step back a moment and look at the bigger picture. Throughout the world right now, the most dominant companies like MS are big enough to actually be governments themselves, and they know it. They aren't just competing for economic supremacy and control. They've had their hands in our governments for quite some time now, and they see a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take full legal control of their part of our infrastructure. The entire global western hemisphere is transitioning from a geopolitical based system of government (many forms) to a corporation based (mostly fascist) globally coordinated system of government. Already, megacorporations like MS are writing and rewriting our laws and submitting them through their "representatives" (lobbyists) to "our" representatives and voting with their "gifts" which have been documented ad nauseum for most of the last 100 years. And all this has now extended to the global scale as well. You don't have to believe in the New World Order, you just have to live in it. Until you can't. Interpol is the agency that should have gotten involved in these international organized crime syndicates posing as industry, but they never have, so they never will, and my advice to you is to carefully re-evaluate your own, individual futures and start planning appropriately. If you want to join the growing movement of freedom fighters, become politically involved in demanding your elected representatives fight to get their elected power back by filing legal actions against these massive actionable acts of corporate terrorism, arresting and prosecuting corporate officers within their jurisdictions for their part in violating every law they trample, and sending them to prison with much public advertisement. I for one would be pleased to pay some taxes for prioritized enforcement of those laws that would protect us from tyranny, and roll back all those taxes, overt and hidden, designed to cripple and ultimately destroy us, the legitimate competition and all our families and friends. Enough of the secret patents, secret town hall meetings, secret representatives ballots, and secret laws that are passed unannounced until the week before they take effect. And if you aren't able or willing to join this fight, then you'd better start making other plans for basic survival, because once the major industries have a secure hold on all the means of production, they won't be listening to your needs anymore, they will be telling you what they need from you. If you don't have what they need, they don't need you, and you won't get anything you need. I'm talking needs like food, clothing, housing, and energy. Don't think it could come to this? Look around you, right now. How many unemployed are there? Not the official number based on unemployment benefits, but the number of people either not working or only working part time. If they were needed, they would be working right now. Act now, one way or the other, but plan and then act. You really don't have much time left. Neither do your children.

gradkiss
gradkiss

There is a business here in San Diego...that goes by the three teir abreviation of LOL or otherwise known as lots of laughter. You can also find within sight a baby's garment...for maybe a 2 month old child, that states " I'm Abortable". This is something similar to what I and others have done since window's 2000(more or less), as windows has a problem changing. I found a reason why though...and still give some of their employees some simpathy...the uS government has no idea what intellectual; property or non disparagement is? Glad to see you typing at the keys Jack Wallen. The children here in San Diego depend on men like you to free them from other hazzards like what the Creative Commons provides...Thanks! Samsung and South Korea have a lot going for them. Kyocera too!

realvarezm
realvarezm

It really makes me angry. Surely the definitions of insanity are doing things the same way and expect different results. That???s what MS is; an insane corporation. Like big tobacco, Oil Company and many other, eventually it will come to their senses, but after a long trail for destruction and shame.

ergodic
ergodic

It is passed to the consumer. Microsoft makes more easy money and Samsung does not loose any

RZATHUG
RZATHUG

First off Samsung would not be ponying up the money if they didn't agree with the infringement. The patents may not be public knowledge to me or you however im sure Samsung knows what it is. Microsoft could never have just gone to Samsung & said hey you have infringed on my patents pay me $15 per device sold & Samsung just goes along with that. Next thing is your claiming that Microsoft is being a spoilt brat for doing this yet right now Apple is in a legal battle with Samsung for making products that "look like" the Iphone & the Ipad. Now that is just plain ridiculous to me.

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

...tho' it seemed quiescent for a while.

apotheon
apotheon

Discussions of how patent threats often play out occurred. I am sure there were some interesting points made, and people weren't just saying "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!" over and over again. So . . . you are pissed that you would have to do some reading to catch up on what was said? . . . or are you just unequipped to understand the arguments?

apotheon
apotheon

So, Samsung charges an extra $15 each unit. This extra cost makes the difference between buying and not buying for a bunch of people, who decide to do without for another year or two, or decide to buy from some competitor -- possibly a competitor selling a Microsoft WP7 device. As a result, Samsung takes a hit, and Microsoft makes money off the sales Samsung does continue to make. As Samsung loses customers, it loses money, and becomes weaker, particularly within markets where Microsoft has a presence. Voila. Microsoft has made a step on the way to its anticompetitive ends.

danmartini
danmartini

What's even more enlightening is how many people are writing reams and reams of text postulating that MS isn't showing the defendants the IP they are accused of voilating. It's boggles the mind that people really believe that these high profile, profitable, saavy firms just started writing checks in response to a pointed finger with no concrete evidence to back up the claims. I hope these same people don't have their fingers on any important buttons with lives at stake.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

It's a variation on the older term, 'seagull manager'. "Flies in uninvited, squawks a lot, craps on everything, and leaves."

apotheon
apotheon

> Here's a thought. You are the CEO of a tech company. You spent millions on a new product that revolutionizes networking. All of a sudden you found out that some other company has basically copied your work that you spent millions on. Do you just do nothing? Here's another hypothetical for you: You are the CEO of a tech company. Your teams develop software for a new product. All of the functionality of the software is completely obvious design, developed independently of any software developed by anyone else. Your company starts marketing it. You then receive patent infringement lawsuit threats from some other corporation that refuses to reveal what patents your company might have infringed. You know, however, that the company registers more than half a dozen patents on a typical day, and that even if the lawyers visiting you with their legal threats do not actually have any specific patents in mind that you've infringed, they can probably find something good enough to tie you up in court, get an injunction stopping you from selling your product, and generally destroy all of your investment in your product line without any recourse. In the meantime, your competitor gets to sell product without impediment, establish a foothold in the market you'll now never have, and work on the next generation of the product. Even if the case is ultimately thrown out of court, you're screwed, and your competitor may well have won the market you worked so hard to tap. Sounds a bit like bullying to me.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

There's nothing wrong with seeking redress under patent law. What calls MS's actions into question is the apparent unwillingness to specify exactly which patents Samsung is supposedly violating. Another question why MS is suing Samsung, an distributor of the 'violating' product, but not Google, the developer. As I noted earlier, I don't have the answers to those questions. However, they do carry the odor of an unrefrigerated seafood market on a summer afternoon. This is in the 'Linux and Open Source' blog because the case involves Android, an OS based on the Linux kernel and an open source product. It's going to be pretty hard to hide it when the name 'Microsoft' shows up on the Discussions and home pages; you managed to find it, didn't you?

johnmckay
johnmckay

Everyone knows that the US military are more likely to kill and maim more of their own or some innocent party unrelaated in any way. Sadly those little drone buzzing around Pakistan and killing innocent families, women and children seem to operate above interational law. No doubt they'd miss some MS operative, cause a flash burn on some Apple fanboi and the mission would have to be aborted before one of them needed an elastoplast. I know your comments were probably tongue in cheek... hopefully. Either way they hurt too many innocents in the real world.

apotheon
apotheon

It was great, up to a point. Then, you had to go and ruin it with this: > Long Live the FSF!!!

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

Purely as a facetious pipedream, of course. :)

apotheon
apotheon

Who said anything about socialism?

apotheon
apotheon

1. I'm down with eliminating software patents. I think that's a great idea. 2. I'd pay for software. I'm actually thinking of giving the FreeBSD Foundation a bunch of money, in "payment" for the development of my (current) favorite OS. 3. I have some issues with other statements of yours, but I'm already getting tired of writing this.

apotheon
apotheon

Multinational corporations are essentially becoming governments of their own, now. You're right, though -- the place to shift that power away from those corporations is not into the hands of politicians. That cure might be worse than the disease.

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

...are what _I_ perceive as our need. Not just on Feds,... State and local too. Happening, tho slowly.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

'corporate terrorism' would still come in low on my list of immediate issues.

ragpickr
ragpickr

Congratulations mystic22222 for your bold comments. The picture you depicted is not only true for USA but is also true for the whole world and I as an Indian know it too well. I felt ashamed as an Indian, when our Government gave Bill Gates, the tyrant,the bully, "International Peace Award". And you know India which cannot feed its people, uses MS Windows in all its offices and Government Schools. The irony is these Schools have computers and all the MS Software, but no money to pay teachers and these computers remain mostly unused or used for other purposes. This shows the power of monopoly.

apotheon
apotheon

If Samsung raises prices to compensate, it loses customers.

jeslurkin
jeslurkin

...that Google, seeing a reduction in Android implementations, would lodge a complaint with the FTC for anti-competitive actions.

The Management consultant
The Management consultant

Well not exactly the assumption is that its a peice of indispensable software.The reality is that software cycles at this point of market behaviour are less than five years..So samsung would probably have been working on a new replacement code/product cutting out this contension whilst the court case is contested.Designing out problems is a constant evolution legal action is just buying time it comes down to a figure less than the lawyers charge before it becomes irrelevent.

apotheon
apotheon

> What's even more enlightening is how many people are writing reams and reams of text postulating that MS isn't showing the defendants the IP they are accused of voilating. It's boggles the mind that people really believe that these high profile, profitable, saavy firms just started writing checks in response to a pointed finger with no concrete evidence to back up the claims. Y'know what else boggles the mind? The fact that people like you speak of what others have written, as if you read it, then make simplistic comments about how unreasonable they are without addressing the actual statements and arguments in what they've said, as if you haven't read it.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

is why we're doing Jack's heavy lifting for him. Enough of this. He can respond himself; I'm too busy trying to eliminate cursive from the curriculum :-)

apotheon
apotheon

On the other hand, I often feel compelled to respond to bad arguments even if the guy to whom they're directed can't be bothered to do so himself. I'm stunned that I'm wasting time on this today, though. I have a lot of other stuff to do right now.

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