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By Greg Mills
I carefully read the almost-daily Foss Patents emails when they come. Florian Mueller, the well known German patent attorney has excellent insight and carefully follows the Apple nuclear war against the Android gang. Check out his web site at fosspatents.com .
Apple and HTC recently settled their differences out of court with a 10-year cross-licensing deal. Courts generally like out-of-court settlements as they are taken out of the loop and are not responsible for appeals and the like. Far better for the parties to come to a conclusion they both are willing to settle for, than have a judgment against them they hate.
Ironically, Apple settling with HTC for a financial deal might come back to bite Apple in the hind quarters. Samsung convinced a Federal judge that since Apple settled with HTC and made a patent licensing deal for each HTC phone sold, the sale of Samsung Android phones couldn't be worthy of an injunction completely prohibiting the sale of Samsung products in the US.
Apple argues it is really none of Samsung's business, but the judge agreed with Samsung, so the cat is out of the bag. The question is this: would Samsung be willing to settle for similar terms? Also, would a settlement between Apple and Samsung preclude the giant judgment against the South Korean company.
This is sort of like a war, where one country waves the white flag and the UN declares that the other belligerents are entitled to a similar peace deal. Apple does not want its deal with HTC to undermine settling with other Android handset makers on their own merits.
Only time will tell what negotiations are already underway to settle the worldwide patent fight that the late Steve Jobs started with his declaration that Android was a stolen product. A reason each Android handset maker needs to make their own peace with Apple is that in a cross licensing deal, such as the HTC deal, Apple gets a license to HTC patents and then licenses Apple patents to the other company. Money equalizes the deal with more money going to the company with the more valuable technology. It is estimated that HTC will pay Apple about 10% of the wholesale value of HTC Android phones.
The more a smartphone sells for, the greater the royalty due the owner of the licensed technology. Thus each company will have to make a deal based upon the reciprocal patents they offer, the wholesale value of their phones and, of course, the number of phones sold.
I can not emphasize enough that it ought to be within the power of Apple to make deals within its discretion with the various handset companies. The ownership of patent rights gives the right to arbitrarily give a better deal or none at all to various competitors. HTC might have gotten a better deal since they were the first to settle with Apple and were not quite so antagonistic as Samsung.
It is also Apple's right to not be willing to license certain of their patents at all, keeping them proprietary to Apple's products. While the HTC deal might indicate to a judge that some financial arrangement as an alternative to an outright import ban has been acceptable to Apple, it need not follow that Apple must accept a similar deal with everyone.
On another subject, I recently ran into my acquaintance Shawn, the Electronics guy at my local Sam's Club. Shawn was eager to tell me about his personal experience loading his PC with the latest operating system offering from Microsoft: Windows 8. What he told me was about what one could expect from the gang that can't shoot straight up in Redmond.
Shawn told me he has spent the best part of a couple of days now trying to get his PC to boot. He explained that when he first loaded the Windows 8 operating system it booted okay, but he really didn't like the interface. Then he noticed his optical drive was not working. He fumbled around in the preferences and discovered the drive wasn't even being recognized by the operating system (the words "operating system" as used in this story should not be taken literally)
When the Win system failed to identify the optical drive, he did what most PC users are used to doing: he reloaded the operating system software. While apparently successfully reloaded, now the PC wouldn't even boot at all. After countless attempts at getting Windows 8 to boot, he gave up and pulled the hard drive out to try to recover his files so he could wipe the hard drive and reinstall Windows 7, which he prefers based upon the short period Windows 8 was actually working. Windows 8 is going back to the store from which he bought it with a few well chosen words, I am pretty sure.
Multiply this by a few hundred thousand and, as the stories of disaster spread, Windows 8 becomes Windows Vista all over again. Just in time for Christmas. PC hardware makers who have their PCs returned to the store due to people hating Windows 8 are sure to raise a ruckus in the tech world. Already, well know PC publications are warning people to avoid Windows 8 like the plague. I am certainly aware of the health warnings and won't touch a PC without surgical grade rubber gloves (the mask and gown are actually overkill if don't breathe the PC fumes directly)
In the past I have suggested that PC users with similar issues soak their PC in epson saltwater overnight and buy a Mac in the morning. It has been suggested that someone might actually do that first part and then blame me when my advisce didn't work. So I must tell PC users that I'm just joking to avoid liability.
That's Greg's Bite for today.