Over a dozen years of litigation finally comes to end
There's been no love lost between Rambus and Micron over the years. The two have been mired in litigation since 1990, which is when Rambus first sought license fees and threatened infringement lawsuits against memory makers who turned to the popular SDRAM standard over its own proprietary RDRAM spec. Rambus contended that its patents and inventions also applied to SDRAM, but as far as things are concerned with Micron, it's now a moot point.
Google's Android platform is a potential goldmine for whichever companies can harvest the most mobile mojo out of it, but would you have thought that the not-so-little green machine would be capable of lining Microsoft's pockets with dough? It's true, thanks to the wonder of patents. Squeezing even more money out of the open source platform, Microsoft and Hon Hai Precision (Foxconn's parent company) just inked a patent licensing agreement in which the Redmond outfit will receive royalties for devices running Android and Chrome OS that use technology for which Microsoft owns a patent.
You may not be aware, but Qualcomm holds a number of patents on modern 3G cellular technology. Any company making a 3G cell phone has to pay patent royalties to Qualcomm. Analyst Sanford Bernstein pointed out in a report this week that Apple appears to be taking advantage of a licensing loophole to avoid paying all those fees for the iPhone. The loophole is estimated to save Apple $290 million in fiscal 2009 alone.
Licensees must pay 5% of the wholesale price of a 3G device to the patent owner. Qualcomm’s website lists over 145 companies that have licensed their 3G technology. The list includes all major makers of 3G handsets. The one notable exception? Apple. One surprise on the list is Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturer of the iPhone.
The Bernstein report says that Qualcomm is being paid royalties not on the price Apple charges (average $590), but on the unit price Apple pays Foxconn, a mere $244. So instead of making $23.60 per iPhone, Qualcomm is only seeing $9.70. Apple is able to get away with this because the entire manufacturing process is done externally. Qualcomm seems fine with the arrangement. After all, $9.70 per iPhone is pretty good considering how they fly off the shelves.
Whenever we recommend a build list for new systems, we inevitably turn to Windows OEM editions for the OS. They are bit for bit just as powerful as their retail cousins, but may require a bit of telephone tag with Microsoft when upgrading and you were stuck with nobody to call if you need support. Overall the experience wasn't so bad given the discount, but an important, albeit subtle change in the Windows 7 EULA could permanently alter this recommendation. The specific clause found in prior OEM editions of Windows is as follows:
"OEM system builder software packs are intended for PC and server manufacturers or assemblers ONLY. They are not intended for distribution to end users. Unless the end user is actually assembling his/her own PC, in which case, that end user is considered a system builder as well."
As you can see from the above passage, prior versions clearly made allowance for those that assembled their own system, sadly, this is no longer the case in Windows 7. Assuming this isn't a mistake (and when do lawyers ever make mistakes), then Windows 7 OEM editions can legally only be installed on machines you intend to sell. I suppose you could always pawn off your new machine to a family member for a song, then politely ask them to return it, but Microsoft clearly wants to push more home users over to the retail edition.
You can still buy OEM editions as easily as before from online retailers such as Newegg, but if your moral compass points true north, you'll need to buy retail editions on new systems you aren't selling from now on. Will this stop you from using OEM editions?
Open-source licensing can be a tricky beast. But it's not just aspiring software developers that need be concerned about the nuances of OSS licensing (or freeware licensing, for that matter). If you offer up apps on a CD or a Web site for others to grab, you're just as impacted by the parameters of licensing as anyone else. If you're just a downloader who's thinking, "why me? I just install cool programs," it behooves you to understand the differences between legitimate and illegal distribution models for the programs you fancy. While you, yourself, cannot be held accountable for another's licensing violation when you go to download software, you shouldn't encourage their efforts either. Playing by the rules is the only way to keep the spirit of open source alive.
That doesn't make open-source licensing any less confusing, however. Click the jump to find out why!
The Free Software Foundation filed suit in U.S. District Court today, alleging that networking giant Cisco violated FSF copyrights by not giving its users the ability to share and modify the open-source software it uses as the basis for some of its hardware. That's a mouthful, so here's what happened: According FSF, the company found that Cisco was using a GNU-licensed version of Linux to power its firmware. Only, Cisco wasn't giving its customers the full access to the source code that the GNU license specifies as a condition of use!