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Microsoft buys Netscape Web patents from AOL to attack Google

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Bob, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. Bob

    Bob Well-Known Member

    By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols | April 9, 2012, 12:06pm PDT

    Summary: Microsoft didn’t just buy AOL’s patents, they bought what was left of its one time fierce Web browser rival Netscape’s intellectual property to use in attacking Google’s Android and Chrome.

    When AOL agreed to sell more than 800 patents to Microsoft for a cool 1.1-billion in cold cash, it didn’t just sell patents. Microsoft seems to have bought, according to AllThingsD, the “underlying patents for the old [Netscape] browser.” However, AllThingsD may not have realized just how incredibly vital those Netscape patents are to all Web services and browsers.

    There was a time when this deal would have been enormous news. Netscape was once a fierce rival to Microsoft. Indeed, it was Microsoft’s illegal attacks on the Netscape browser that led both to Netscape’s eventual decline and death and the Department of Justice’s taking Microsoft down a peg.

    Netscape, today, though is little more than an obscure brand name, a URL and an ISP, which AOL will keep, and little else. Indeed, in AOL’s Security & Exchange Commission 8-K describing the deal, AOL merely states that, in addition to selling Microsoft patents and granting them the right to use all of AOL’s other patents, “The transaction is structured as a purchase of all of the outstanding shares of a wholly-owned non-operating subsidiary of the Company and the direct acquisition of those patents in the portfolio not held by the subsidiary.” What is “that non-operating subsidiary? That would be Netscape.

    Guess what? This is still gigantic news.

    Microsoft certainly doesn’t have any plans to bring back the Netscape browser. AOL stopped developing it years ago. Its code-base eventually became the Firefox Web browser. Netscape’s intellectual property (IP), however also included such universal Web browser mainstays as Secure Socket Layers (SSL), cookies, and JavaScript. It’s these old Netscape patents that Microsoft is paying a billion bucks for. And, you know what? For a mere billion Microsoft got a steal of a deal.

    For example when Netscape patented SSL back in 1997 the company said it had no plans to start charging developers for the source code or to charge for an SSL license. Will Microsoft will take such an attitude towards letting others use this universal Web security standard? Come on! Will the New York Yankees try not to beat the Boston Red Sox?

    Could this deal really be about Microsoft trying to get a bigger share of the online map and directions business?. Maybe. But, the cookie, JavaScript, and SSL patents are so fundamental to the Web that I have to think they’re the real reasons why Microsoft pulled the trigger on this deal.

    Indeed, while AOL and Microsoft would like to see this deal go through within 18-days I expect it will take much longer. I expect lawyers are already at work on briefs objecting to the deal to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at this very moment. How ironic is it that more than a decade after United States vs. Microsoft came to its end that Netscape’s fate will once more emerge as a legal issue for Microsoft. Still, if Microsoft can get the patents, it will be worth the billion plus all the legal expenses they’ll need to pay before the deal is done.

    So what will Microsoft do with these core Web patents? My bet is that they’ll use them, or threaten to use them anyway, against their top rival: Google. Consider, Chrome is on its way to overtaking Internet Explorer as the world’s most popular Web browser.. Microsoft wants Windows 8 to be a major player on tablets and smartphones, and Google’s Android is one of the leaders there. What better way to try to trip their opponent than that early 21st century business favorite tactic: the patent lawsuit?


    Couple other articles about it...

    AOL’s patent sale to Microsoft: stripped clean, or savvy move?

    Microsoft’s purchase of AOL patents may be about a Google map war

    AOL, Microsoft announce $1.056 billion patent deal
  2. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    If you can't beat them, sue them :(
    Reminds me of another lame company :(
    Panupat, TheVisitors and RastaLulz like this.
  3. Bob

    Bob Well-Known Member

    Im surprised there isn't more talk about this. Wonder what MS has in store. Guess we'll find out in a few weeks.
  4. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    Patent wars are here to stay.
    I wonder how much Google offered ? :)

    I think the lack of talk is because people are fed up of Mega Company X trolling for money from Mega Company Y.
    Patent Lawsuit fatigue ?
  5. ManagerJosh

    ManagerJosh Well-Known Member

    Premature assumptions?
  6. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    Calling Microsoft a patent troll is not premature.
  7. Bob

    Bob Well-Known Member

    You do realize this is Microsoft we are talking about lol
  8. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    Actually, to be fair ...

    Manager Josh:
    Microsoft is a company "from the 80s" who made Operating System and Office Software before the web made those things redundant. Their website is still up - www.microsoft.com

    I'm old school and know more about Microsoft, let me know if you have any questions or try the waybackmachine.com
  9. ManagerJosh

    ManagerJosh Well-Known Member

    I'm quite familiar with Microsoft, thank you very much. I am saying "premature" because this in my opinion, seems more of a calculated move to stop the hemorrhaging Google has caused over the last few years and slow Google's advancement.
  10. aiman.h.kallaf

    aiman.h.kallaf Active Member

    the more tension between them, the more headache they gain and better services we receive . so by all means lets them kill each others for all what matter
  11. Bob

    Bob Well-Known Member

    It not only effects google, but ALL Browsers sans IE that are using any of the patents. They spent 1.1 Billion on it.. they ARE going to do something, so its not premature to talk about it.
  12. ManagerJosh

    ManagerJosh Well-Known Member

    Actually, a mea culpa on my part. I should have been more clear. I think it is premature to believe Microsoft intends to sue everyone and anyone who uses their new patent portfolio.
  13. Bob

    Bob Well-Known Member

    I don't think they will either, but I believe they will attempt to do anything they can against google lol
  14. Kevin

    Kevin Well-Known Member

    They spent 1.1 Billion on it but not just it ("it" being the old Netscape patents) but rather a package of 800~ patents. In regards to the patents affecting browsers, the article linked below highlights some of the most notable patents and why, for now at least, there really isn't too much reason to speculate until when & if Microsoft decides to make their move but they better move fast since some of the patents are coming up for expiration.

    Personally I wouldn't be surprised to see nothing at all come out of the purchase; after all, Microsoft does have a history of spending a large chunk of change on troubled companies.
  15. Bob

    Bob Well-Known Member

    and the last paragraph of that article..

  16. Kevin

    Kevin Well-Known Member

    Yes, which clearly shows that nobody at this time knows what Microsoft is planning on doing, just speculating.
  17. Bob

    Bob Well-Known Member

    Which takes us back to.. " Wonder what MS has in store. Guess we'll find out in a few weeks ".. Wasn't aware that we can't discuss what they might be up to based on what they have done in the past in regards to patents.

    I personally hope that what ever MS is planning to do that it backfires miserably because I can't stand them.
  18. Kevin

    Kevin Well-Known Member

    You can do whatever you feel, nobody has said or inferred otherswise... still doesn't change the fact that for now any conjecture, as ManagerJosh pointed out, is premature assumptions.

    Kind of how I feel about Apple; that newest federal lawsuit sure looks interesting, was a bit surprised to see Jobs specifically mentioned.
  19. Bob

    Bob Well-Known Member

    Thank you, I know you are not the type of person that tells other what they can and can not post. btw, Josh clarified what he meant and he did not mean that it was to early to discuss what they might do.. he meant that it was to early to state for a fact they they will sue everyone (which is his opinion/guess/assumption).
  20. Adam Howard

    Adam Howard Well-Known Member

    An internal memo (not so long ago leaked) suggest Internet Explorer 10 will be the last IE Browser.... Or at least the last one named, Internet Explorer.

    At the time of it's leak, people didn't know what to make of it and most thought it was just a spoof. But now that this has come to pass.... I'm reminded of it and you have to wonder.....

    Microsoft to all its pros and cons, has faulted on the browser in terms of security, useability, and stability. Its been long thought among the tech world, that they really can't keep patching it or developing it's core. But rather would need a complete fresh starts, from the ground up.

    That's not something they would technically get away with using Internet Explorer, since after all everyone (user and developer) would want IE 11 to be compatible to IE 10, 9, 8 .... So a "cheat" would be to say, IE is being discontinued and replaced with, Netscape.

    It's all in the name and perhaps the perception. What would a Microsoft Netscape mean in the tech world or the old school consumer?

    It's only speculation and perhaps this is mostly unlikely. But there is that "vague" internal memo that makes you wonder... What are they up to?

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