Originally published: October 3, 2011
Last updated: October 3, 2011 - 8:43pm
Samsung, the largest maker of Android products, will pay Microsoft an undisclosed fee for every smartphone and tablet it makes that uses Google’s free operating system. Google sees Microsoft as the ringleader in a shady cabal of competitors – “a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents,” said David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer.
Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, said what is happening with patents in the smartphone market is merely a rerun of similar episodes in the past. When Microsoft moved beyond personal computers into corporate, data-center computing, it licensed technology from its predecessors in the business market. The rise of the smartphone has added a new layer of patent licenses for the cellphone business. The first layer – or “stack” of technology – was the basic radio technology for cellular communication.
The largest patent beneficiary in the radio layer is the leader in that technology, Qualcomm. The company collects about $20 on every smartphone produced, Mr. Smith estimates.
The second layer was media technology, allowing music and video to play on modern smartphones. Those patent-licensing fees are about $3 to $5 a phone, and go to a variety of companies, Smith said.
The next layer, he said, is the software layer – the computing operating systems that animate smartphones. The companies that have been working on that technology for years, like Apple and Microsoft, went first and developed software ideas that Android builds upon, according to Microsoft and Apple. And Android uses Java software technology, developed by its Sun unit, Oracle contends.
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