According to a report by Citi analyst Walter Pritchard, Microsoft may be making more money off Google’s Android operating system than it makes off its own Windows Phone platform five times more, in fact. Pritchard states that as a result of a patent settlement, HTC is required to pay Microsoft $5 for every Android phone sold. Analyst Horace Dediu estimates that HTC has sold 30 million Android smartphones to date, which adds up to $150 million in the bank for Microsoft. Dediu notes that Microsoft has reported Windows Phone sales totaling 2 million licenses to date, and he estimates the company’s license fee to be $15 for a total of just $30 million. Pritchart notes that Microsoft is currently suing other Android phone makers for infringements on the company’s intellectual property, and is seeking between $7.50 and $12.50 per device sold. As much money as the company is making on sales of HTC’s Android phones, it’s easy to see why Microsoft is pursuing other cell phone makers with similar suits.
Earlier this month a company called Lodsys began sending letters to iOS app developers using Apple’s in-app billing system, asking each to license its technology separately. In a blog post on May 15th, Lodsys explained on its website that “the scope of [Apple's] current licenses does NOT enable [Apple] to provide ’pixie dust’ to bless another (third party) business applications.” On Monday Apple issued a response to Lodsys explaining that iOS developers are safe under its licensing program. “Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patents and the App Makers are protected by that license,” Bruce Sewell, Apple’s senior vice president and general counsel, said. “The technology that is targeted in your notice letters is technology that Apple is expressly licensed under the Lodsys patents to offer to Apple s App Makers.” It sounds like developers that have received the notification letters can breathe easy knowing that Apple appears to be offering some support. Hit the jump for more from Sewell’s letter to Lodsys.
The “is Android open?” question is one that constantly fades in and out of focus on blogs and in the tech media. The latest snippet that will undoubtedly reinvigorate the argument was revealed this past weekend, and this time it’s not a pretty one for Google. As part of Skyhook Wireless’ lawsuit against Google, which alleges that the company interfered with a contract that placed its services on Android phones sold by Motorola, several internal emails have been made public by a Massachusetts state court. Collectively, the emails provide various insights into the business strategies employed by Google’s Android team. One email in particular, however, is attracting a great deal of attention. In it, Android Open-Source & Compatibility Program Manager Dan Morrill writes, we are using compatibility as a club to make them do things we want. In other words, we’re brought right back to the earlier revelation that Android partners can do whatever they want with the platform, but only those that play ball with Google’s compatibility requirements get preferential treatment, such as early access to new Android builds. Of course this time, the sentiment comes straight from the horse’s mouth in a relatively gruff manner, which doesn’t exactly do a service to Google’s repeated “open” claims.
It didn’t take a crystal ball to see this move coming Samsung on Friday filed multiple patent infringement suits against Apple. Just four days following Apple’s filing of a lawsuit alleging Samsung smartphones like the Galaxy S “copy Apple’s technology, user interface and innovative style,” Samsung has filed three separate suits alleging infringement of a total of ten patents. The suits were filed in Seoul Central District Court, Korea; Tokyo, Japan; and in Manheim, Germany. In a statement, Samsung said it is “responding actively to the legal action taken against us in order to protect our intellectual property and to ensure our continued innovation and growth in the mobile communications business.” Ebb and flow… yin and yang… suits and countersuits.
On Monday The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple filed suit against Samsung for intellectual property violations in its Galaxy S, Galaxy Tab, Nexus S, and Epic 4G devices, and now, Samsung is fighting back. “Samsung will respond actively to this legal action taken against us through appropriate legal measures to protect our intellectual property,” the company said in a statement obtained by Korea’s AFP. “Apple is one of our key buyers of semiconductors and display panels. However, we have no choice but respond strongly this time,” one Samsung official explained. Furthermore, the Korea-based firm may file a lawsuit of its own. “We think Apple has violated our patents in communications standards,” Chung Jae-woong, a spokesperson at Samsung Electronics, told Yonhap News. “We are considering a counterclaim.” Apple said on Monday that Samsung’s aforementioned Galaxy family of products copied its user interface and “innovative style.”
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Cupertino-based iDevice manufacturer Apple, Inc. has filed a lawsuit against Korea’s Samsung Electronics for intellectual property violations on a host of devices. “Rather than innovate and develop its own technology and a unique Samsung style for its smart phone products and computer tablets, Samsung chose to copy Apple’s technology, user interface and innovative style in these infringing products,” reads the complaint. Apple has taken exception to the technologies used by Samsung’s popular Galaxy S, Nexus S, and Epic 4G smartphones as well as the Galaxy Tab tablet. Neither Apple nor Samsung has publicly commented on the freshly filed suit, but we’re sure this isn’t the last you’ll be hearing about this particular case.
The business of smartphone production is starting to look more like the a John Grisham legal novel. While handset makers try to out-innovate each other with high-end, spec-heavy handsets consumers will flock to, lawyers are trying to out-flank each other with patent suits and red-tape. No longer can you have an armada of talented engineers and a driven executive team, you also must possess a war chest of hardware and software patents to prevent your company from entering litigation limbo just Google the words Nokia, Apple, and patent if you don’t know what we’re talking about.
Research In Motion has reached an agreement with Intellectual Ventures that will provide the Canadian BlackBerry manufacturer with access to the company’s library of over 30,000 patents. With other technology giants engaged in a seemingly endless loop of lawsuits , RIM is hoping to provide itself legal cover for future smartphone innovations by purchasing the rights to this war chest of intellectual property. “Intellectual Ventures offers an efficient way to access the invention rights companies need to stay competitive within the market,” said Mario Obeidat, Intellectual Ventures’ head of telecom licensing. The patent holding company was founded by former Microsoft CTO, Nathan Myhrvoid, in 2000, and boasts both Samsung and HTC as its other high-profile, mobile clients. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Redmond software giant Microsoft has announced it will file suit against Barnes & Noble, Foxconn, and Inventec for patent infringement. The three, seemingly unrelated companies collaborate to manufacture the Barnes & Noble branded, Android-based eReader. “The Android platform infringes a number of Microsoft’s patents, and companies manufacturing and shipping Android devices must respect our intellectual property rights,” said Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft’s Deputy General Counsel. Microsoft has setup a patent licensing program for Android vendors to mitigate instances of infringement upon the patents in question Taiwanese company HTC subscribes to said program. “We have tried for over a year to reach licensing agreements with Barnes & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec” Gutierrez added. “Their refusals to take licenses leave us no choice but to bring legal action to defend our innovations.” The full press release is after the break.