Barely Legally

Confessions of a Moot Court Bailiff

Microsoft's Phone Has a Patent Troll

If you’re reading news articles about software patents written by anyone other than Nilay Patel, you’re probably doing it wrong. Patel, writing for The Verge:

Microsoft’s been touting its Live Tiles concept ever since Windows Phone 7 launched two years ago, but the launch of Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and particularly the Surface tablets appear to have given a company called SurfCast an opening to file a patent lawsuit over the concept. Microsoft’s held high-profile launches of all three products lately, so news of the case is being reported widely — but a basic examination of SurfCast’s patent reveals Microsoft’s move into selling its own PCs is the key to the complaint.

And as with all patent troll lawsuits, the company in question makes no products, has no assets other than a handful of patents, and was set up shortly after the patent was filed. The fact is that this patent is lousy, the lawsuit is lousy, and Microsoft will throw a few bucks at these guys just to get them to go away.

Patel details exactly why the patent is so lousy, and why the case isn’t going to do anything. The fact is that without the kind of Samsung/Apple animus that keeps these two companies at each others’ throats years beyond the point where rational companies would settle, these kinds of patent troll suits are just a waste of everyone’s time.