Microsoft: We won't use "essential patents" to block our competitors

Microsoft has been making deals with a number of companies that make Android-based smartphone and tablets, including most recently with LG. However, the company announced today that it would not attempt to block a competitor from using what Microsoft calls "essential patents".

In its statement, Microsoft said it supports and contributes to industry standards, saying, "Industry standards are vitally important to the development of the Internet and to interoperability among mobile devices and other computers."

Microsoft said that it will " ... always adhere to the promises it has made to standards organizations to make its standard essential patents available on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms." It added, "Microsoft will not seek an injunction or exclusion order against any firm on the basis of those essential patents."

Microsoft also pledged to license these "essential patents" to other companies without any requirements that those companies license those patents back to Microsoft " ... except for any patents they have that are essential to the same industry standard."

In a related blog post, Microsoft VP Dave Heiner stated that Internet users have received great benefits from international PC and Internet standards such as connecting to a WiFi network, watching a video and more. Companies like Microsoft offer up their patented software and products for all companies to use if they are "essential" to making a standard software or hardware device work.

Heiner claims that sometimes a company will try to insist on other companies to pay for their patents that have already been set up as part of Internet standards. He states:

Once a standard like H.264 or 802.11 is widely adopted, firms have no choice but to implement the standard in their products. Would you buy a smartphone, an iPad or a personal computer that couldn’t play video or connect to wireless networks? Probably not.

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That's what they've been doing for a long time.
Look at all the Android patent deals; if Microsoft wanted to nuke Android devices, they'd have done it already.
Instead, they're making patent *deals* : not just royalties, but patent protection from both sides. Attack is the best form of defense.

Im a big Microsoft fan and do like the direction they are going, but... im not a fan of what ive seen so far on Windows 8, it looks like an OS for tablets that will be ported to normal PC's.

It could be something that will really grow on me, im a support advisor so whatever happens ill have to work with it.

So they are saying that they will not enforce their patents if another company decides not to pay. Good PR move which is opposite to (obviously) Apple and also Motorola(/Google).

In all fairness, Microsoft is not in the same position as Motorola/Google are, as Google has more at stake due to the patent trolling assault from Apple on their platform that affects all of their partners. Microsoft does not need to worry because they already have a long standing cross-patent agreement with Apple.

If it wasn't for Apple's patent trolling I'm sure that Google(and by extension Motorola) would be more than happy to allow anyone to use their patents without compensation for the same PR reasons as Microsoft. Unfortunately the situation (because of Apple) does not allow this.

Hopefully this Microsoft message at least sends a strong message to get Apple on board with this as well, then the entire industry can be happy again.

Simon- said,
So they are saying that they will not enforce their patents if another company decides not to pay. Good PR move which is opposite to (obviously) Apple and also Motorola(/Google).

In all fairness, Microsoft is not in the same position as Motorola/Google are, as Google has more at stake due to the patent trolling assault from Apple on their platform that affects all of their partners. Microsoft does not need to worry because they already have a long standing cross-patent agreement with Apple.

If it wasn't for Apple's patent trolling I'm sure that Google(and by extension Motorola) would be more than happy to allow anyone to use their patents without compensation for the same PR reasons as Microsoft. Unfortunately the situation (because of Apple) does not allow this.

Hopefully this Microsoft message at least sends a strong message to get Apple on board with this as well, then the entire industry can be happy again.

Why would Apple with it's $97 billion cash horde and 75% mobile industry profit share want to be nicer? They got to this position by being the baddest man on the block.

Simon- said,
So they are saying that they will not enforce their patents if another company decides not to pay. Good PR move which is opposite to (obviously) Apple and also Motorola(/Google).

Industry standard patents, not all. basically stuff that's needed to make your phone or whatever operate as it should. so stuff like the 3G chips they wouldn't. special touch technology... unclear. could go either way. while specialized stuff that helps WP stand out and is not required for a smartphone to operate, they would sue. so you cn't just steal the tile system or such things.

Seems fair to me. But this is also what FRAND is supposed to protect and why Samsung is under investigation and Motorola is heading there.

Simon- said,
So they are saying that they will not enforce their patents if another company decides not to pay. Good PR move which is opposite to (obviously) Apple and also Motorola(/Google).

In all fairness, Microsoft is not in the same position as Motorola/Google are, as Google has more at stake due to the patent trolling assault from Apple on their platform that affects all of their partners. Microsoft does not need to worry because they already have a long standing cross-patent agreement with Apple.

If it wasn't for Apple's patent trolling I'm sure that Google(and by extension Motorola) would be more than happy to allow anyone to use their patents without compensation for the same PR reasons as Microsoft. Unfortunately the situation (because of Apple) does not allow this.

Hopefully this Microsoft message at least sends a strong message to get Apple on board with this as well, then the entire industry can be happy again.

I seriously doubt their motive is based on their own vulnerability, as they have demonstrated to a lot of companies and legal teams they have a patent portfolio to cripple anyone that went after them, even Apple.

Apple and Microsoft do have the 'agreement' but it can be shredded at any time, and Apple has 'inched' close to doing so a few times until they are reminded that if they did, Microsoft has the upper hand that goes beyond software, and they would possibly be able to stop or at least get a nice cut of the sales of all Apple products. This includes OS X, iOS, and even a lot of Apple hardware that is using engineering technology from Microsoft. (Even the GPU in the iPad comes from Microsoft architecture and how games run via OpenGL on the iPad are using user level shader technology created by Microsoft, etc etc...)

Microsoft has ALWAYS had these fundamental rules of operation, it is just now they are making them clear to the rest of the world.

They could have killed Linux years ago if that was their intent and can be witnessed by their patent licensing with companies like RedHat, and even the Android phone makers, as part of the Patent violations are in Linux as well as the JIT technologies in Dalvik.

To date, Microsoft has only pursued companies that make a profit from the technology in a specific way, and are are a large company. They have never pursued licensing from small companies or people or companies that provide the technology for free.

Microsoft has been seen as the 'closed source' example of the world, but what is often overlooked is they may not distribute 'source code' to their technologies, but freely share the ideas of their technology to the world. If you look at GPU designs from Microsoft and even APU/SoC designs that they have helped develop and share with the world, they don't get 'money' from them, yet almost everyone uses them.

Even divx, xvid, and a lot of OSS codec projects are all based on specific ideas and even sample code created by Microsoft in the 1990s when they produced an early version of the MPEG4 specification that they abandon because of the MPEG4 licensing insanity. You don't see Microsoft going after these projects or technologies, and some even make a bit of money from them.

Microsoft has always operated in 'closed code' but free and open ideas. Especially when it comes to technologies that improve the entire industry. Windows was able to make OEMs jump through hoops if Microsoft wanted, instead when they needed new hardware functionality to support technologies in Windows, they would help develop them, and give away the ideas to everyone.

The very nature of how CUDA 2.x and OpenCL work are based on hardware designs from Microsoft they developed for the XBox 360 that created a new on GPU DMA technology and new I/O techniques.

Or even take the SSD industry, the core 'randomization writing' technologies used in the flash arrays in the SSDs is based on concepts developed by Microsoft so that limited write Flash could be used in a high write environment and still maintain a lifespan that is comparable to traditional magnetic HD technology. (In Microsoft products, you can see it in the ReadyBoost technologies that write a lot of data to SD and Flash devices without wearing them out very quickly without the technology.) All SSD makers use either Microsoft's technology or a variation of the 'idea' of Microsoft's technology that they freely offered to the world.

This is also true of user level shader code, the base original dual VS/PS GPU design that was needed for DX8.1 and the XBox and also the unified shader and other extensive GPU architecture changes that was needed for the XBox 360 and DX10/11, that ATI implemented from MS hardware engineering. Microsoft went on to give the concept freely to NVidia, Intel and the world in general to use, and is a fundamental part of all modern GPUs today. They don't get 'fees' for this, and they don't even mention it, as it was an essential technology for the computing world to move forward.

Apple is the contrast to this, as they are not just closed source code, but closed ideas, to the point of having people prosecuted for revealing their their ideas. Apple also likes their 'licensing' fees they get from Quicktime, Firewire, etc.. Which kept the technologies from every becoming beneficial to the industry in a significant way, as the smaller companies could afford to use them.

/longstoryrant

the long wind was fine. I get that way too. I remember when you posted the following.

1. thenetavenger - 22 March 2011 - 10:35
Microsoft is basically just firing warning shots, as they have nuclear weapons when it comes to technology patents, with a lot of them being for litigation defense from patent trolls, but also a lot of them with legitimate innovations.
Just this patent alone, which is a concept that Microsoft came up with for mobile touch devices, is powerful enough to destroy the mobile device and smartphone market.
http://www.google.com/patents/about?id=d36fAAAAEBAJ
(Go directly to the diagrams if you want a quick understanding.)
Sadly, because we all use and take these types of gestures and navigation for granted today, it seems simple, but back in the late 90s when Microsoft was adding gesture support to WinCE devices and tablets, it was new.
(I know about a few of these patents because our company also had keyboard and gesture based software in the 90s, and Microsoft was defining the migration of real world interactions into digital device interactions.)
Spend some time looking up Microsoft patents. You would be surprised at some of the technology that orginated in Microsoft R&D that is used everywhere today that Microsoft could legitimately litigate.
Even your phone's touch screen vibrating and creating a physical presence or response is something directly out of Microsoft R&D in the 90s. (It is also the first thing an Android user will notice when unlocking their phone, as the haptic feedback is exactly what the patent covers.)
From spelling mistakes being highlighted in realtime (red squiggle lines) to various GPU technology patents and concepts we use everywhere; it is staggering to realize how much of what is used outside of the Windows ecosystem is technology invented by Microsoft.
If you have the time and want to follow the rabbit in patent land, just look up Microsoft patents on very specific concepts and technologies that you are familar with.
So if you ware a gamer or game programmer, dig into GPU shader technologies, and also shader languages. You will be surprised to find a lot of stuff that people think came from Nvidia or ATI or OpenGL ARB or 3dFx, is hardware and corresponding software concepts designed by Microsoft.
Heck just in shader language technologies alone, you can go from the original XBox and DirectX8 to Cg, to GLSL, and even trace Microsoft's technology to the heart of OpenCL. - Imagine that legal crap storm if Microsoft wanted to be nasty.

Microsoft surely was pretty bad back in the old days. But I would never say evil. They simply played a game of chess with other company's. They had the power to win and they tried to use that power to have to much control. The feds were all over them, yet they haven't even touched Apple.

Microsoft, love them or hate them they are the MAJOR reason we are where we are today. If it wasn't for Microsoft, Apple would be dead right now and many company's wouldn't even exist.

Simon- said,
So they are saying that they will not enforce their patents if another company decides not to pay. Good PR move which is opposite to (obviously) Apple and also Motorola(/Google).

No, they are saying that they will not block competitors by refusing to license essential patents.

That doesn't mean that they will not enforce them if you don't want to pay.

It's the oposite to Apple, but not so sure about Motorola. AFAIK they are requesting Apple to license their patents and pay for damages, not to "GTFO because you are using our IP and we won't license it to you".

It is interesting to note you don't see as many 'evil' comments about 'Micro$oft' (or however you see it put by the trolls) as much these days. All about 'evil' Apple, 'evil' Google, 'evil' Samsung.

chadlachlanross said,
It is interesting to note you don't see as many 'evil' comments about 'Micro$oft' (or however you see it put by the trolls) as much these days. All about 'evil' Apple, 'evil' Google, 'evil' Samsung.

Go on MacDailyNews for your daily dose of MS-hate.

sanke1 said,

You loose credibility the moment you insert that dollar sign in the name.

Chad was quoting what the trolls usually say, not saying it himself.

a1ien said,
These are the guys who aren't evil, not anymore at least

It's only because Apple is so insanely successful that Microsoft has to pretend that they're good all of a sudden.

smoledman said,

It's only because Apple is so insanely successful that Microsoft has to pretend that they're good all of a sudden.

Nope. Apple has always been the evil one. I think that the warp core powering the distortion field is losing power.

a1ien said,
These are the guys who aren't evil, not anymore at least

underdogs always like to give the impression that they are the good guys or being victimized. even though they are the bad guys, and are abiding their time to strike back.

smoledman said,

It's only because Apple is so insanely successful that Microsoft has to pretend that they're good all of a sudden.

Really, back when they were first labeled as 'evil' Apple was a much larger company than Microsoft at time...

I don't think your argument holds any credibility.

smoledman said,

It's only because Apple is so insanely successful that Microsoft has to pretend that they're good all of a sudden.

Are you really that lame? If it wasn't for Microsoft, Apple would have died.
It wasn't the $150M investment that really helped Apple, it was the FACT that all the developers for Apple's platform were leaving Apple. On Adobe and a few other remain faithful to Apple while Apple was dying. Microsoft is the world's largest software developer. If Microsoft would have drop Apple, the few remaining devs would have followed.

This is why Jobs was all up in Bill's face trying to make a deal. Microsoft made sure they benefited from that deal as well.

This is what you clones don't understand. Apple is just like any one else, if no one buys or develops for your crap, YOU DIE.

Albert said,

underdogs always like to give the impression that they are the good guys or being victimized. even though they are the bad guys, and are abiding their time to strike back.

Whose the underdog? Microsoft? Microsoft doesn't need Apple. Show me a time Microsoft was ever near dying? NEVER! People need Microsoft. Much of the technology we have today is based on work they did 2 decades ago. Get a clue.

The reason Microsoft made this statement is simple. Apple is out trying to stop everyone from making better stuff. Especially in cases where they should have never gotten a ptent in the first place. How did a court allow Apple to patent something that already existed in high numbers on the market?

At leats Microsoft is willing to share, even if it is at a price. Samsung offered to sit down with Apple and strike a cross-licensing deal. Apple said no. They rather try to own crap that doesn't even belong to them.

Apple has nerve to be evil when in trued, the vast majority of people don't want their crap. Apple sold 37M iPhone's...so what. It took them 35 years to finally sell 30M of something in a single year. Microsoft sold over 30M copies of just Windows 3.1. How long ago was that?

Microsoft an underdog? What...in the mobile space? Microsoft had the first world successful products. You can go to any country on thi planet and find a PC running Windows. I bet I can go to places right here in the USA and not find a person with an iPhone. There are 350M people in just the US alone a and on 10% of them have an iPhone. Grow up please!!!

TechieXP said,

Apple has nerve to be evil when in trued, the vast majority of people don't want their crap. Apple sold 37M iPhone's...so what. It took them 35 years to finally sell 30M of something in a single year. Microsoft sold over 30M copies of just Windows 3.1. How long ago was that?

Microsoft an underdog? What...in the mobile space? Microsoft had the first world successful products. You can go to any country on thi planet and find a PC running Windows. I bet I can go to places right here in the USA and not find a person with an iPhone. There are 350M people in just the US alone a and on 10% of them have an iPhone. Grow up please!!!

Wow, way to make yourself look like an idiot by making such an outrageous comparison... Does comparing software sales to hardware sales even make sense? No... And what are you even trying to get at with your false Windows 3.1 claim? Has all that Apple-hate made you go completely brain dead? If you're going to puke up a rant, at least make it somewhat truthful and intelligent. Apple has a completely different business philosophy than most companies, and guess what? It's working pretty damn well for them. If you don't like it, that's fine, and go pound sand over it. But saying they are evil and spewing a bunch of false facts makes you just look like a child. It's you that needs to grow up...

They should tell that to Samsung, which currently under scrutiny from the European Commission for this reason, and Motorola, which might be facing the same thing.