Microsoft, Google, & software patents

Glynn Moody notes that Barnes & Noble have acceded to Microsoft’s demands to license the patent rights it claims are infringed by Android, while Microsoft invests $300 million in a joint venture controlled by Barnes & Noble: while the details are not disclosed, it seems clear that the net result is Microsoft paying Barnes & Noble to pretend to pay for the patent licenses, so that Microsoft can keep up the business of threatening suit against open source users, making them feel insecure.

Moody then says

… I’ve no idea what Google will do here; it might decide that it’s had enough, and simply take a pragmatic view that it’s easier to sign now and get it all out of the way. Or it may choose to fight on. I hope it’s the latter, since acquiescence would represent a victory for Microsoft’s shabby strategy…

Here’s betting that Google will settle, like Barnes & Noble letting Microsoft pay to “win” (they’ll have to find something more than a little cash to sweeten the pot for Google, of course). Google is a big company and, in the end, it too benefits from giving the open source software market an oligopoly structure via patent claims; like IBM, it has a countervailing patent portfolio to keep its peers in line, and deep enough pockets to defend itself against pure patent trolls.


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