Xiaomi feeds Microsoft patent troll -- pays patent toll

Rabbits, white rabbits. It’s IT Blogwatch…

Xiaomi Microsoft patent troll
Ketzirah Lesser & Art Drauglis (cc:by-sa)

Xiaomi and Microsoft get cozier. They’re announcing an unusual patent deal, which also sees Xiaomi pre-installing Microsoft Office and Skype onto its Android devices.

[Developing story. Updated 1:11 am PT with more comment]

Some say it involves a traditional licensing of patents. But others insist Xiaomi has actually purchased 1,500 patents from Microsoft. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers scratch their heads in utter confusion.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: Let’s build a new, post-romantic future

What’s the craic? Jeremy Wagstaff reports—Microsoft sells patents to Xiaomi:

Microsoft Corp is selling about 1,500 of its patents to Chinese device maker Xiaomi. [It] also includes a patent cross-licensing arrangement.

Wang Xiang, senior vice president at Xiaomi said [the patent coverage] included voice communications, multimedia and cloud computing. ... Jonathan Tinter, corporate vice president at Microsoft...declined to go into detail about the patent deals.

This is confusing. But Mary Jo Foley knows all about it—Xiaomi buys 1,500 patents from Microsoft:

Microsoft is both continuing to collect patent royalties from Android [and defending] antitrust charges in China. ... Some outlets are saying Xiaomi "bought" these patents [not] licensed them.

Where’s that Xiaomi guy who’s always good for a quote? Global VP Hugo Barra tweets:

Xiaomi-Microsoft partnership. ... IP cross-license and patent transfer agreement.

Hmmm, “transfer”. I’m none the wiser. Andrew Martonik gins it up: [You're fired -Ed.]

Microsoft has struck plenty of app pre-load deals with other manufacturers...and has also managed to work out patent cross-licensing deals...particularly in lieu of payments for...intellectual property. ... Xioami may be able to leverage this...deal to launch its devices in more regions...where the threat of litigation is higher.

Stand by for the complaints about shoveled ****ware. Here comes Mark Richey:

One of the biggest complaints about Windows Phones is the lack of Google apps. But I suppose that at sometime, in a different dimension, Google and Microsoft struck a deal that would have put Google apps on Windows Phones out of the box, there would have been general cheering, rejoicing and balloons and cake for all. And the same people here complaining about not being able to uninstall Office or Skype would still be complaining.

Update: Some commentators are concerned for Xiaomi’s future. Such as this Anonymous Coward:

Has a phone deal with Micro$oft ever worked out for anyone? Other than the competitors, of course.

It may not be as simple as Xiaomi thinks. So says glitch!:

I have to wonder if these patents are even enforceable, or just accepted. Will China enforce these patents against supposed infringing products leaving the shipping docks?

Or will it be up to Xiaomi to find "infringers" and take them to court? In China, or USA? This seems like a big bucket of worms.

Who has the case for the defense? goombah99 does:

Microsoft gets a lot of money from other people's phones.

This deal is about finding a way to squeeze every other Chinese vendor even harder. Microsoft can't sue from the outside...but if a Chinese company sues another one, that's a whole different ball game.

MS gives Xiaomi some exclusives and now they...want to keep them exclusive. Xiaomi is an ambitious hungry company that is competing...not just for phones but for all the components of the integrated electronic living space. Microsoft is offering them a way to...compete not just on price but on being better. And they will want to protect that advantage for themselves.

[And] now MS has a club to beat up all the other non-paying patent violators [in China].

And what else is in it for Microsoft? Here’s default luser:

There is no such thing as the Google Play Store in China (yet). So Xiaomi has filled the void with their own Mi Store.

Now's a perfect time for Microsoft to catch a ride on the hottest smartphone train outside iOS. Google Play will be joining the fight later this year, so this is a move by Xiaomi to strengthen their position before that.

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You have been reading IT Blogwatch by Richi Jennings, who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don’t have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or itbw@richi.uk.
Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

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