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I don't really understand why Microsoft is expected or obligated to produce that list for the public. Calling it 'secret' seems a bit ridiculous in this scenario. The patents aren't 'secret'; the information was already out in the open. The 'secret' is a 'trade secret', that is, which patents they personally believe to be most important. It's quite possible that they have other patents in their arsenal that ALSO apply to Android, and any vendor that intentionally works around these ~300 patents will still get a patent suit.

If you really wanted to be safe from Microsoft and not pay them licensing fees, you could have paid some professionals to review their patent holdings for you, and identify any patents that could potentially be asserted against your smartphones. This list is essentially the result of Microsoft doing that.




I the current patent landscape, Microsoft is not expected to do anything but maximize it's strategic advantage and milk every possible loophole that can improve it's bottom line.

In the fantasy world of "patents protecting innovation", it seems rather dubious that The Inventor should actually obscure the details of his invention under incomprehensible legalese and vague threats with litigation. Quite the contrary, we should expect The Inventor to widely disclose and promote his intellectual product, so that manufacturers find out a Better Way to do it has been Invented, and it's available for licensing.

Could it be that (gasp) the whole premise of the patent system is flawed, that the vast majority of patented methods are trivial, obvious and sometimes unavoidable by the practitioner, and that the benefits companies derive from patents are anticompetitive as opposed to stimulative for research and development ?


I don't really understand why Microsoft is expected or obligated to produce that list for the public.

Because it's impossible for any small player to know if they're following the law if they don't know what the law is. In effect, undisclosed patents are like a law that someone says they know you are breaking, but they won't tell you why unless you agree not to tell the next guy. That's no way to run a society.


>In effect, undisclosed patents are like a law that someone says they know you are breaking, but they won't tell you why unless you agree not to tell the next guy. That's no way to run a society.

Undisclosed patents? That's quite an oxymoron. "patent" literally means out in the open. There are no undisclosed patents here. Even patent applications are public.


Undisclosed patents? That's quite an oxymoron.

It should be perfectly clear from context that I am referring to specific patents that are used as a threat against competitors, without the specific patent numbers being revealed. No amount of searching the patent database will tell you conclusively which patents those are.


>It should be perfectly clear from context that I am referring to specific patents that are used as a threat against competitors, without the specific patent numbers being revealed

Aren't they being revealed to the competitors that are being approached for licensing? Are you implying that, for example, Acer doesn't know which patents it bought a license to?

Also, this list is essentially the top ~300 patents that MS thinks Android infringes on. There's absolutely no guarantee that other patents don't apply now or in the future so the utility of the list is kind of low.


These are the patents that Microsoft is using to extract licenses from Android manufacturers, so the utility of the list is not zero. 1. It allows well funded competitors to know which patents to attack at the patent office, and 2. It allows poorly funded competitors to avoid those specific patents, and the fact that Microsoft is satisfied by licensing those specific patents to other competitors should provide some small consolation if Microsoft decides to bring out another patent.


By this logic, by telling you that I'm in the phone book, I have disclosed my identity to you. Even though the information is there, it is not out in the open if it is buried in other information to such an extent that I can't reasonably determine which information is pertinent.


> If you really wanted to be safe from Microsoft and not pay them licensing fees, you could have paid some professionals to review their patent holdings for you, and identify any patents that could potentially be asserted against your smartphones.

Or just stop being a competitor, I think this is what they're going for. Barring that, pay them some protection money.


> you could have paid some professionals to review their patent holdings for you,

My understanding is that it is not practical to do this. Have you done this before or known people who have? How much did it cost?


It's a process called "Freedom-to-operate", and it's somewhat common in some industries. I'd guess it's non-existent in software, though, probably because it's unfeasible.


To be honest you cannot do that. Simply because they have patented so much.

A good example RE40989 Atomic Operations on Data Structures.

If you read the claims you'll notice they have basically patented the way of 'atomically' changing arbitrary sized data by simply acquiring a mutex (or atomically setting a 'do not touch' flag), making the changes and then removing the flag.

If you want to do parallel programming at all you will have some sort of locking mechanism to prevent multiple threads from writing the same data structure at the same time. And if you do, you are infringing the patent.

P.S. You can all thank me now. You know of this patent so it's 3x penalty for willful infringement ;)




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