Microsoft's war chest of patents against Android revealed

Microsoft has been pursuing Android vendors for years and has signed several contracts with the largest players. Microsoft says that it is simply protecting its intellectual property - but if you are an Android vendor, you might think of it as extortion.

Microsoft has remained tight-lipped about the patents that it has been using when pursuing Android vendors but thanks to China, we now have a better look at the IP.

Up until now, Microsoft would contact an Android OEM, show them their massive lists of patents and then they would start paying royalties, as noted by the number of companies who have already signed such agreements. But what exactly were the patents that Microsoft dropped onto those conference room tables with a smile, while the Android OEM would scramble to sign an agreement?

China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) posted up the list of patents (and applications) which totals 310. The patents that Microsoft is using to go after these vendors has been published, and you can download them here. Essentially, Microsoft is not looking to use one or two patents to make its case but has a massive list of items that infringe on its IP, with which it has been able to extract royalties from vendors.

From patent 5579517, which is titled 'Common Name Space for Long and Short Filenames', to patent 0035758 which covers plug and play device redirection for remote systems, the list covers a wide variety of scenarios, which is why many vendors have little recourse to fight Microsoft.

Microsoft is estimated to make $1-2 billion a year from these royalties, so it’s not a trivial sum of money for the corporation and justifies why they are pursuing these vendors.

Google tried to protect its Android OEMs by acquiring Motorola Mobility for their patents, but that attempt did nothing to inhibit Microsoft’s pursuit of Google’s business partners.

Source: China’s Ministry of Commerce via Ars Technica

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