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Microsoft to Android OEMs: 'Show me the money'

Redmond carefully considers OIN approach

Exclusive Microsoft has reserved the right to nail firms making Android devices running its Office suite for possible Windows patent infringements.

The giant has decided against signing a licence with Open Invention Network (OIN), a group of 1,300 companies dedicated to defending Linux against patent suits.

Signing an OIN licence could have stopped the practice of Microsoft accusing Android and other Linux makers of infringing on its Windows patents and signing them up to IP licensing deals.

The decision followed a meeting with OIN in December, where the subject of Microsoft signing an OIN licence was apparently discussed.

OIN veteran chief executive Keith Bergelt met Microsoft’s then-new chief of patent licensing and intellectual property, Eric Andersen.

Bergelt told The Reg Monday his meeting had been a courtesy call to discuss differences and that he’d also held such a meeting with Andersen’s predecessor, Horacio Gutierrez.

Proceedings were “constructive”, Bergelt said, but any hopes that Andersen’s appointment heralded a shift in the giant’s shakedown of Linux device makers and software firms were dashed shortly after, when the OIN chief followed up.

“It told me it is not prepared to go through with the process,” Bergelt said. “I don’t think it has a good reason.”

The Reg contacted Microsoft to find out what reasons it had for not signing an OIN licence, and if Microsoft might sign in future, but a spokesperson declined to comment.

The OIN was launched in 2005 to defend Linux against attacks from claims of IP and patent infringement, then primarily from the SCO Group.

SCO had opened a $3bn prosecution against IBM, claiming it had infringed on its patents in Linux, before also opening a front against Novell.

OIN licensees assign relevant Linux or open-sources patents to a common pool. Licensees can use these patents while also granting their use to others on a royalty free basis – without threat of prosecution.

Next page: Microsoft's moves

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