Last week Microsoft couldn’t resist taunting Google over its licensing deal with LG, and it looks like the patent gravy train isn’t set to stop rolling any time soon. Accroding to Korean news outlet Yonhap, Pantech is currently in negotiations with the American software giant to pay indeterminate licensing fees for the priveledge of running Android (a free and open-source operating system) on its phones. Along with LG and a handful of other major manufacturers like Samsung and HTC, Microsoft now claims it collects fees for more than 70% of Android phones sold in the United States.

Motorola and Barnes & Noble are the only notable companies that have stood up to Microsoft’s heavy-handed tactics. The later will almost certainly fight it out thanks to backing from recent buyer Google, which has still not been directly sued by Microsoft. Barnes & Noble seems to be resisting Microsoft’s civil suite out of sheer determination, protecting its forward-looking business model built on the Nook series of Android-powered ereaders. The bookseller published Microsoft’s Android-related patents in detail for the first time back in November.

As opposed to Apple, which has so far gone with an all or nothing approach to its legal bullying, Microsoft seems intent on making actual revenue out of its existing patents. Estimates of licensing fees are in the hundreds of millions of dollars per year… which is still far less than Microsoft might be making if its paid Windows Phone 7 operating system could get more than 2% market share. Many speculate that the real motive behind the lawsuits and settlements is to force manufacturers into making and selling Windows phones, which seems appropriate in the case of Samsung, HTC and others.

Google isn’t happy about Microsoft’s Android tax, but there isn’t much they can do about it. Since Microsoft has so far refused to sue Google directly over the software, instead aiming for smaller and ostensibly weaker manufacturers, its patents are unlikely to be overturned in the United States. Oh well – if you can’t innovate, litigate.

[via SlashGear]

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t Motorola sued Apple first. I never see android zealots bitch about Motorola’s bullying.

    So a closed source company that defends it’s patents is a BULLY.
    The one that licenses it’s patents is a TAX collector.
    The opensource company that defends it’s patents is fighting for JUSTICE.
    The opensource companies that steal other patents is a SAINT.

  • Anonymous

    “If you can’t innovate, litiagte”

    I guess you can accuse Microsoft of copying Apple yet again.

  • Christian Saldana

    OMG Microsoft its like a cancer!!

  • Guest

    the truly clever is nokia.. microsoft paying them for using windows

  • Andy Turfer

    These stupid stupid stupid companies should learn by example:

    If you read the above, you’ll see that Microsoft’s claims are either invalid (due to prior art) or trivial (at best). They have no claim to the mobile space, and need to stay out.

    Any company that folds and agrees to pay Microsoft royalties for using Android (or Linux) need their heads examined. The first thing to do: inform the shareholders of these companies of the Barnes & Noble example (a company that has chosen to fight back!!!). Secondly, these companies should eject any director/manager who recommends paying Microsoft (no golden parachutes either!!!).

    This is a war, and surrender is NOT an option. By simply folding and giving in to Microsoft (and not publishing the facts about exactly what Microsoft’s claims are) the image of Android and Linux is being unjustly tarnished.

    People are ignorant sheep, blindly accepting that Microsoft’s claims are valid. Examine the facts first, and then make up your minds.

    Personally, I will be purchasing 3 or 4 B&N tablets to support the cause.

  • Andy Turfer

    And just in case anyone is interested in the actual facts, and not just the words that are presented by Microsoft’s PR division, here are Microsoft’s claims on Android:

    1. ‘372 Patent (Web browser background image loading).

    2. ‘522 Patent (Operating system provided tabs).

    3. ‘551 Patent (Electronic selection with handles).

    4. ‘233 Patent (Annotation of electronic documents).

    5. ‘780 Patent (Web browser loading status icons).

    If you look at the dates most of these were filed (or simply at the date Microsoft was formed as a company), you’ll clearly see that there is prior art on most of these, and that the others are trivial.