Two days ago, Google unveiled new licensing terms for Android phones and tablets in the European Union, following the EU's record $5 billion fine. Device manufacturers can now sell phones with heavily-modified builds of Android while also producing normal Android devices with the Play Store, and some apps (like Chrome and Google Search) are now separate licenses. According to a report from The Verge, device makers are still strongly incentivized to ship Search and Chrome, or they could pay as much as $40 per device for access to the Play Store.
About two years ago, we reported that one of the most recognized patent trolls around, Lodsys LLC, had sued game maker Rovio over Angry Birds for Android, claiming that the defendant had "infringed and continues to infringe" on patents controlled by Lodsys.
If you're not up to snuff on your patent troll bestiary, Lodsys is a company that produces no real goods or services, but holds plenty of patents that they are willing to either license or use for legal action.
As David correctly pointed out at the time, Lodsys suit said less for Lodsys' actual claim to the patents they sued over, and more for their overall strategy of intimidation and unsavory utilization of the patent system.
Just one week after bringing Play Music to France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK, Google has reached a major licensing deal with Armonia, a music licensing initiative that represents an alliance of publishers from across Europe. The deal will give Play customers access to Armonia's 5.5 million musical works licensed across over 30 countries.
Google recently updated its SDK license terms for the first time in a long while. While most changes are minor, one change has been grabbing quite a few headlines – Google's proclamation that those using the SDK are disallowed from taking "any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android". Here's the full clause in question:
3.4 You agree that you will not take any actions that may cause or result in the fragmentation of Android, including but not limited to distributing, participating in the creation of, or promoting in any way a software development kit derived from the SDK.
It would appear that the patent battle between HTC and Apple, which has been going on since early 2010, is finally closed, with the two companies agreeing to opt for a ten-year licensing agreement.
The dispute began over two years ago when Apple levied a complaint regarding twenty patents at HTC, claiming infringement. Of course after that the two slapped each other with disputeafterdispute, and the fight has boiled on ever since. The sudden conclusion comes as something of a shock, since – as the Verge reports – HTC Chairwoman Cher Wang said just three months ago the Taiwanese manufacturer had no plans to settle its spat with Apple.
One of the worst phrases a human being can put together is "automatic video editor." The whole thing feels like it's set up for failure. Like "vasectomy in a box" or "snooki's pregnant." Add in "for Android" and, well, let's just say I've been burned before. So it came as an unbelievable shock when I tried out Magisto, which claims to be both of these things, and it was good. I mean, really good. It doesn't offer you any control at all, but it does the job for the regular Joe or Jane in fantastic form.
As most of our readers are surely aware, the Apple vs Samsung case is still boiling, and over the course of nearly two weeks since the trial's beginning, document after document has revealed juicy details from both sides regarding previously unreleased designs, plans, and even sales figures. While so far we've avoided piecemeal coverage of the case's twists and turns, a new development (reported earlier this evening by The Verge) reveals something particularly interesting.
We've known for some time that Apple attempted to sell Samsung on patent licensing back in 2010, but according to a document released today (and the testimony of Apple Exec Boris Teksler), Apple had proposed specific dollar figures per license – up to $30 per Phone and $40 per tablet, to which (according to Apple's slide deck) "Samsung should respond favorably." According to the proposal, Samsung would be responsible for a base rate of $30 per touchscreen phone (including phones running Android, Windows, Symbian, and Bada) and $40 per tablet (which would decrease to just $30 over two years).
Nullsoft, creator of WinAmp, a favorite media player for over 10 million Android users, is adding its premium track directly to the Android Market. Users have previously been able to download the Pro version via an in-app purchase, but now the Pro license is also available directly from the Android Market. So, what do you get for your $5? Here's a look at the feature list:
10-band graphic equalizer
Customizable home screen
Browse by Folder
Support for FLAC playback in Folders View (lossless audio playback)
Personalized station recommendations
Play any streaming audio URL (supported formats only)
Things are getting a bit more interesting in the ongoing fight between Microsoft and Barnes & Noble. You'll remember that earlier this year, Microsoft began suing B&N for refusing to fork over Android-related fees from the Nook Color. Barnes & Noble has responded, alleging in its motion that Microsoft "is using its licensing practices to improperly broaden the scope of its patents in an attempt to dominate mobile operating systems such as Android that threaten Microsoft's monopoly in personal computer ("PC") operating systems." It may sound odd at first that Microsoft would be at Android's throat over PC operating systems, but indeed, it was recently discovered that Microsoft attempted to compel Google to provide its Android strategy, including information about Android's current abilities as a PC platform.
It certainly seems like it. Yesterday, Microsoft announced via blog that it had concluded negotiations with Samsung and reached a licensing deal for the same seven patents it previously licensed to HTC for Android (along with other, smaller Android manufacturers). There were rumblings about just what royalty rate Samsung is paying, but the guess is anywhere from $5 to $15 per handset (it's likely on a percentage-of-MSRP basis - so think about 1-3% per $500 MSRP phone).
When it comes to royalty agreements, rates are usually internally fixed regarding certain categories of IP to avoid confusion about damages in lawsuits, but when there are allegations of continued infringement, the game changes.