I’ve always been a little bit of a mafia history buff, to the tune of doing my senior project in high school (in the early 90’s) on La Cosa Nostra. I at first got an F because of the content and then it was changed to an A after a bitter dispute with the school board…
In doing all of that reading, and even reading today like “I heard you paint houses”by Charles Brandt, I’ve learned a lot about racketeering. In a nutshell, one of the activities in this “racketeering” is when those in organized crime use their force to basically make a company pay them to do business in their territory. From where I sit, although many call it “licensing”, it looks like Microsoft may be flirting really close with racketeering.
More after the break
Basically with racketeering the most common racket is when organized crime would come into a business and demand protection money from crime that could essentially come from others in the same organization. Mircosoft basically says you pay us now so we don’t sue you later. Sure the US Government allows this practice and Microsoft has been granted patents that they could sue over but is it fair?
Although the Barnes & Noble Nook’s are only officially “built on Android” they have emerged as Android’s biggest defender from this practice. According to Bloomberg on Tuesday morning, Barnes & Noble has asked US regulators to investigate whether Mircosoft is seeking a monopoly in the mobile space by demanding royalties from OEM’s running Google’s Android operating system.
“Microsoft is embarking on a campaign of asserting trivial and outmoded patents against manufacturers of Android devices,” Barnes and Noble wrote in a letter to The Department of Justice’s chief counsel on competition policy. They went on to say “Microsoft is attempting to raise its rivals’ costs in order to drive out competition and to deter innovation in mobile devices.”
Microsoft has accused Barnes & Noble of violating five of it’s patents. It’s clear that Barnes & Noble doesn’t want to sit back and sign up for the same racket that Samsung, HTC and others have already agreed to pay to Microsoft.
Microsoft responded in a statement saying:
“Microsoft has taken licenses to patents for Windows and we make our patents available on reasonable terms for other operating systems, like Android. We would be pleased to extend a license to Barnes & Noble.”
Apparently Steve “Sweaty Pits” Ballmer (thats our made up mafia name) doesn’t agree with Barnes & Noble