Why innovate when you can litigate? That seems to be the attitude of some companies in tech these days, and it shows signs of desperation because they can't be competitive enough to stop their competitor's growth.
This usually happens to old companies who are starting to get beaten by younger ones in the market, and when they see they are losing ground, they decide to throw whatever lawsuit they can at them, so they can stop them or at least slow them down. They don't care if they are right or wrong, or if it's moral or not to sue these companies. They care only if they can slow down their decline and make money from them.
Microsoft is one such company. In the past year or so they've started doing exactly what any other patent troll would do. They went after companies selling Android and they basically told them it's cheaper to accept the licensing deal with them, than enter a lawsuit. Plus, they started going after the smaller companies first to build their "list", that they could later use to show to larger companies like Samsung, and make them think paying them is inevitable, so why fight it?
Of course, I don't think Samsung lost any money in that deal, because Microsoft could've easily offered them WP7 or Windows 7 discounts (Samsung is a laptop maker, too), if they agreed to pay for the Android license. But even if Microsoft broke even on that deal, it was still a big win for them, because now they get to flaunt it in the face of all the other companies, who still have doubts about whether they should pay those license fees.
Obviously, that was pretty smart of Microsoft, and also downright evil. They think exactly like a patent troll, and nothing really separates them from one. Sure, they do have some technology themselves, but are they licensing any of that technology to these companies? No, they are licensing "patents", that are probably useless for those companies, once they pay for them, which is why you'll always see these deals to be made for "undisclosed terms and money" and with "undisclosed patents".
If Microsoft cares so much about others infringing on their patents, then why aren't they coming out and showing which those patents are? That's because they know their patents are very bogus, and wouldn't stand to scrutiny. As soon as other companies' lawyers would see those patents, they'll probably start telling Microsoft they aren't going to pay, and that they'd rather see each other in Court.
I keep wondering, for how long is Microsoft going accept the bad PR they are getting from this, seeing how there are 200 million Android users right now, and a lot of them are Microsoft customers. But if they keep this up, and start going after their favorite companies, how willing will these people be to use Microsoft's products in the future?
I for one, am already starting to consider Android with a Transformer like device, as a laptop replacement in the next 2 years or so, once the ARM chips become more powerful, and Android's app ecosystem becomes more mature. I wonder how many people are starting to think the same way because of Microsoft's attitude towards Android.