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Microsoft royalty demands for Android and other non-Microsoft software

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Since their 2006 deal with Novell, Microsoft has been demanding that software distributors pay for permission to use unspecified patents. When Microsoft announces these deals, the press releases usually mention free software or GNU/Linux, seemingly in an attempt to create uncertainty around their competitor. Microsoft's activity is characterised by some as patent trolling (although they wouldn't fit the narrower term of non-practising entity).

It is worth noting that users of Microsoft software are also paying patent tax.[1] These costs get passed on to the users.


List of companies paying


Mark Shuttleworth of Canonical Group has characterised this activity as racketeering:

Microsoft is asking people to pay them for patents, but they won’t say which ones. If a guy walks into a shop and says: “It’s an unsafe neighbourhood, why don’t you pay me 20 bucks and I’ll make sure you’re okay,” that’s illegal. It’s racketeering.[15]

Reasons why companies sign

This is maybe best explained with an excerpt from a story from Forbes magazine. When Sun told IBM that their claims of patent infringement were unfounded, IBM replied:

maybe you don't infringe these seven patents. But we have 10,000 U.S. patents. Do you really want us to go back to Armonk [IBM headquarters in New York] and find seven patents you do infringe? Or do you want to make this easy and just pay us $20 million?"

IBM got their money. (source Forbes: Patently Absurd)

Related pages on en.swpat.org


  1. http://www.softwarefreedom.org/resources/2007/patent-tax.html
  2. http://blog.internetnews.com/skerner/2009/07/microsoft-signs-linux-patent-d.html - http://www.informationweek.com/news/software/linux/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=218500894&subSection=News - http://boycottnovell.com/2009/08/03/microsoft-extorted-melco/
  3. http://news.cnet.com/2100-1014_3-6169454.html
  4. http://news.cnet.com/2100-1014_3-6177381.html
  5. http://www.linux-watch.com/news/NS9611526832.html - http://stephesblog.blogs.com/my_weblog/2007/06/microsoft_messa.html - http://boycottnovell.com/2009/06/15/xandros-patent-protection-sale/ - http://www.itwire.com/content/view/25661/1231/
  6. http://blogs.siliconvalley.com/gmsv/2007/06/another_firm_bows_to_microsofts_patent_threat.html
  7. http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/03/30/1853219
  8. http://web.archive.org/web/20100103123725/http://linux-watch.com/news/NS6121484436.html
  9. BROKEN LINK, working copy in Google cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:dOa4j5g0dXYJ:www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2010/apr10/04-27mshtcpr.mspx
  10. http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/press/2010/apr10/04-27MSHTCPR.mspx
  11. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2363175,00.asp
  12. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/05/microsoft-gets-5-from-htc-for-every-android-phone.html
  13. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/27/microsoft_patent_android/
  14. http://informationweek.com/news/windows/microsoft_news/232400234
  15. http://mybroadband.co.za/nephp/6672.html

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