I mean, Microsoft even went after companies to pay them royalties for ChromeOS...really, Microsoft?! I hope Motorola does the same to them now and asks for royalties for Windows 7. Something tells me they'll get a lot more for it.
I find it incredibly hard to want to cheer for any of these organisations, or get behind any of this stuff. These are just big, faceless corporations, each the same as the next, when it comes down to it. It's a bit like supporting professional sports teams, I guess.
Even so, the optimist in me is really happy about this. The reasoning is that if stuff gets screwed up enough, really having stuff messed up, then something might give and things might get better. Imagine a wonderfully chaotic future where iPads can't be sold one week, Xboxes another, and so on. It'd certainly further help illustrate the absurdity and innovation-limiting inherent in patents.
Realistically, I know it probably won't amount to much. Motorola and Microsoft will fight, come to some settlement, and the world will be worse off with yet another precedent set for legal abuse instead of actual competition.
Did you know Microsoft makes more money licensing Android to Google then it does selling windows phones? Yeah payback is a bitch. Its ok thread goers, lets continue ignoring the real issue here and side with one of the largest patent trolls: MS.
Some effects I can imagine:
- Potential competitors aren't bought but sued to death.
- It could be harder to get founding if your situation is not sure, investors could loose their money
Consequence will be that start-ups will become more expensive again...
Not really. Good patents are fine, but in order to use a patent defensively, you'll have to defend against something, most likely the abuse of an actual patent (be it a good one or not).
And it's certainly sweet to see Microsoft tasting its own poison. They have extorted just about every Android set maker (or Linux embedder) with a secret list of patents they paid Barnes & Noble US$ 300 million to keep secret.
BTW, this seems to be the soft spot of their armor - future litigants should press hard for the list to be made public. Microsoft will settle before risking exposing a weak hand.
To make it more relevant, imagine that a major consumer product might be totally banned from sale in your country on the basis of a patent lawsuit. Imagine that, say, the browser you use, or the phone you were hoping to buy, was suddenly banned.
That would presumably affect your life, right?
And aside from that, none of these 'bans' will ever come to pass--they're just lawyers flexing various muscles.
When I was young the money was in innovation. Now the money is in stifling it.
I agree though. Tedious describes this perfectly.
In this year of the storm, the winners will build
windmills and the losers will raise shelters.
Personally I wouldn't want my son to be a patent troll, simply because this is an artifact of the modern world, which can change in the blink of an eye, leaving my son with no occupation. However, the constant truth is that people creating value have always earned enough money to keep them satisfied.
Between the pseudo-bubble valuations and all the IP challenges, in 25 years we're going to look back at this time with disgust at all the wasted resources.
Unless you buy their products I guess. Lawyers are expensive and I assume that expensive eventually filters down to their customers. I wonder, for example, how much, if anything, consumers have paid for the 'Android tax' Microsoft has been applying to various companies.
Oh the irony. Wasn't the MPEG LA consortium supposed to guarantee protection against that kind of attack ?
Any details on the infringing patents ?
Even if Motorola are a member of the MPEG-LA, if they are suing for a patent that they have not committed to the MPEG-LA, then Microsoft have no protection.
About the worst that could happen is Motorola get kicked out of MPEG-LA.
This only goes to show how nobody is protected from patents, even if you're careful about buying licenses.
Motorola does not seem to be a licensor of H.264.
How is a ban Motorola has solicited under German law under the jurisdiction of a US court, or am I misunderstanding this?
Banning Windows sales in entire Germany is no child's game, if enforced and then reversed Motorola might go bankrupt. Simple as that.
And for clarity, it's Motorola Mobility they're buying, not all of Motorola.
I've even seen a reportage about this topic, that covers why large companies fight patent lowsuits in Germany. It's because Germany has understood how to capitalize on this "new market".
Tax route optimizations, patent-pool leverage, secret partnership agreements, HR Capital squeezers, talent headhunters, innovation buyout..is that out of an "imperators guide to the 21st century"?
I notice that people are very quick to attack Microsoft here, despite the fact that a great many parties have been touting h.264 as a standard to adopt, and acting like it wasn't a morass of patents and lawsuits waiting to happen. Granted, one of those parties was Microsoft.
Depending on what's in the patents at issue, maybe there is a lesson here about making sure that the standards we approve of aren't encumbered by patents.
I always thought patents were there to protect against such attacks, a balance of awe and destruction. But who the heck was stupid enough to start that? Seriously, replacing development and business operations by law suites only will get you so far.
Maybe I should switch careers and become a patent lawyer!
Not even remotely. The damage so far is measured in legal expenses (a few million dollars, chump change), and headlines. They can stop at any second, and can in fact reach some licensing agreement that would make both stronger (MS because their are now immune, Motorola because they can go on to other fish with the precedent that "Microsoft settled because our patents are so strong. You want to fight with us?").
When you start throwing nukes around, you cannot fix the damage so quickly, and you definitely don't come out stronger.
> Seriously, replacing development and business operations by law suites only will get you so far.
far enough for 99% of the companies out there, unfortunately. They are in the business for the money, not technology advancement, or the betterment of mankind.
> Maybe I should switch careers and become a patent lawyer!
Selling your own soul can produce good income, but potentially comes with the hefty price tag of losing your soul.
But that's kind of micro level stuff, at the macro level it's just another volley in the on-going patent wars where it seems that lawyers will win and the companies and the consumers lose.
Common sense says it will end soon but it really doesn't feel like that's happening.
What IS new is abusing the principles of FRAND that underpins every standard today. I mean what is going to happen if some 2-bit patent holder of the WiFi standard decides to hold everyone to ransom and demand $1000 per patent license ?
Google could not be more evil if they tried right now.
Companies have always sued each other over patents
since they were introduced.
What really started this trend was Apple entering the mobile space with the iPhone, suing and getting sued by others. God forbid other companies following this trend. Considering how Nokia is doing these days, imagine if they started suing everybody else with their huge GSM-related portfolio. Or IBM, which has such a huge portfolio that it most likely touches on everything technology-related.
We are really heading heads on to a full war in the software industry that will cripple innovation, with the winners being those that produce less products then everybody else.
The ND part of FRAND (non-descriminatory) actually means that start ups should be treated no differently.
To give just one example H.264 is FRAND, yet you pay a fee for broadcast television, and you pay a fee for pay TV on the internet over 12 minutes of length, but you don't pay fees for free video on the web (but until recently they weren't guaranteeing that would continue). Why?
Because the TV market is locked-in and they have no hope of switching away from MPEG/H.264 but in the Web market it was much more likely for an upstart like Flash's VP6 or Google's VP8 to compete, so they drop the price. What's non-discriminatory about that? They've structured the licence fees precisely to undermine competition in specific markets. (I believe the 12 minute minimum for charging is because the online porn industry would have switched away if that allowance wasn't made, but I don't have a source for that.)
Furthermore, they put a cap on fees so that big corps only pay a max per year, which means everyone else pays a higher marginal cost per device or unit.
Finally, their business model is incompatible with open-source software and often awkward even for proprietary software distributed cheap or for free. Given all that (and there's more of the same) how can you say FRAND is non-discriminatory?
And there's far too much idealizing of "standards" in this thread. Standards themselves, though often started to avoid horrible vendor lock-in have been thoroughly gamed for a long time, and again often serve the puproses of the usual large incumbents over the end-users or society's needs.
Merely the potential for dumb rather than the ongoing implementation of dumb.
It is impossible for WebM to be free from patent violations.
In software, everything you do will run afoul of some patent you've never heard of that, in the opinion of the court, describes an aspect of what you've done.
The huge problem with software patents is they describe in hand-wavy terms the "technology" without actually being specific enough mean anything. The patent for "embedding hypermedia documents" that stung Microsoft for several hundred million dollars is so uselessly vague it may as well have been pulled from a science fiction novel.
Allowing a patent without a single line of source code or even proof of a working implementation is not helping anyone.
EVERY company in the industry has now been given carte blanche to completely ignore FRAND principles and sue everyone after a standard has been adopted.
This is the worst precedent to hit the industry in a long time.
Also, who is to say that $4bn/year isn't "fair" when video is an essential part of Microsofts products?
Don't get me wrong, I hate patents as much as everyone else here, but I still think this lawsuit poses as a very nice example of why free video/audio codecs are important.
We had the same shit with LZW/GIF patents a decade earlier and all the warnings were ignored and laughed at ("Nerds with tinfoil hats" ~Gruber). Microsoft (and Apple) doesn't deserve better for their arrogant stance on this issue.
Anyone who's sane. $4bn/year? That's nuts. It would be nuts even if that was the licensing fees for complete H.264 coverage. However, it's not complete coverage, because there are hundreds of patents in the H.264 pool. http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/avc/Documents/avc-att1.p...
It's not clear to me whether these two particular patents are in the pool or not. I assume not, because otherwise Microsoft would have a license for them through MPEG-LA already. However, given that Motorola was involved in the creation of H.264, it seems that their patent assertions here might be illegal. Some of Qualcomm's patents were apparently thrown out because they didn't disclose them properly and include them in the patent pool. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.264#Patent_licensing
All the other H.264 patents have been voluntarily licensed for ~$5M/year, so to reach $4B Moto would have to argue that its patents are worth one thousand times as much as all the others combined.
Another way to look at it: There are thousands of patents that read on Windows. If each one cost $4B/year, patent license fees would exceed total Windows revenue.
It's not clear why Motorola should be able to do in the first place. If Motorola's patents cover encoding and decoding of H.264, those patents should be in MPEG LA's pool. However, Motorola is not listed as licensor on the website(http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/AVC/Pages/Licensors.aspx ). Since the pool covers all the essential patents related to encoding and decoding H.264, why isn't Motorola included in the list?
Motorola is not on that list, and have not granted their patents. However, since they're asserting that it covers the encoding and decoding of H.264, it's questionable whether or not they can assert them against H.264 codecs. In fact, the US courts have invalidated patents that were not declared to the pool before. See dpark's post: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3919324
Microsoft Wants to Ban Motorola Phones in U.S.
"Motorola is infringing our patents and we are confident that the ITC will rule in our favor," said David Howard, Microsoft's deputy general counsel for litigation.
"We are vigorously defending ourselves against Microsoft's patent attack business strategy," said Motorola in a responding statement. "We have also brought legal actions of our own in the U.S. and in Europe to address Microsoft's large scale of infringement of Motorola Mobility's patents."
He who lives by the sword...
I'd love it if Motorola went all-in about it.
DVD Players, Projectors, Video Cameras, Digital Cameras, Smartphones, Tablets, Operating Systems, Browsers, Portable Media Players, Consoles, TVs, Media Centers, PVRs.
Hopefully a clusterfuck between two industry giants will cause a fundamental change in the rules of the game.
I wish all the devices you mentioned would be outlawed overnight to force a decided reaction. I'm willing to go full OSS and open formats, I'm mostly there anyway. Remember static GIFs? Here's hoping they do enforce all these patents to the fullest.
The reply people on HN have been giving about these issues is "Don't hate the players, hate the game". I say it's a false dichotomy. You can hate both the game and the players.
But I love players who, like Motorola is doing here, demonstrate that and make everyone hate the game.
The law doesn't really apply to these software giants, they'll always find a way around it.
"Finding a way around it" does not imply they are avoiding any cost in doing so.
(it's also a not-so-subtle hints to politicians, that Microsoft would prefer to have a special exception to the usual rules, otherwise JOBS ARE AT RISK!!!11)
Its not this case but the general state of these laws.
Eh? Is this their defence?
I really have nothing else to say.
Bottom line: Microsoft was being a troll on Android. Motorola kicked some ass by blocking their two big products in probably their second largest market.