Anti-lawsuits patent battles have always found their way into news headlines these recent months, with biggies in tech – from Microsoft to Google, Apple to Oracle, all accusing one another for patent infringement. This time it’s Google that’s filed complaints with the European Commission against the two main contributors to Windows Phone, Microsoft and Nokia, of mobile patent abuse.
The Mountain View company has filed a complaint against Microsoft and Nokia with the European Commission (EC) and the U.S. competition regulator, declaring that the concentration of their patents affect free competition in the mobile industry. Google said the two companies are distorting competition by colluding around the provision of patents to Mosaid, a Canadian company specializing in the exploitation of intellectual property law.
Last year, Mosaid acquired 2,000 wireless patents from Nokia. The company makes money by collecting royalties and licensing patents. Later, the company entered an agreement with Microsoft and Nokia to share parts of its revenue earned from patents.
Nokia announced in February 2011 a comprehensive strategic agreement with Microsoft to incorporate the Windows mobile operating system in order to compete with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.
“Nokia and Microsoft are colluding to raise the costs of mobile devices for consumers, creating patent trolls that side-step promises both companies have made,” a Google spokesman said in a statement. “They should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices.”
“1,200 of those patents are standard-essential patents, meaning they must be licensed fairly and reasonably to others, including smartphone rivals, because they are vital for compatibility across the smartphone industry,” Google said.
Microsoft called the Google complaint as “a desperate tactic.”
“Google is complaining about patents when it won’t respond to growing concerns by regulators, elected officials and judges about its abuse of standard-essential patents, and it is complaining about antitrust in the smartphone industry when it controls more than 95 percent of mobile search and advertising,” Microsoft said.
Nokia representatives said Google’s acquisitions are wrong and “waste of time and resources.”
“Nokia has made regular patent divestments over the last five years. In each case, any commitments made for standards essential patents transfer to the acquirer and existing licenses for the patents continue,” a Nokia spokesman said. “Had Google asked us, we would have been happy to confirm this, which could then have avoided them wasting the commission’s time and resources on such a frivolous complaint.”
Google fears that Microsoft and Nokia will make money from the patents by collecting royalties rather than being shared on reasonable terms. In the long run, Google sees this as a strategy to blunt Android’s growth and revenue potential.
Microsoft against Motorola
Google is facing a fair share of legal trouble on its own. The European Commission opened a patent case against Motorola (Now a Google company) after Microsoft and Apple alleged patent infringement.
Microsoft has the patent rights relating to navigation and how websites display content, which is widely used by Google’s Android and Chrome platforms.
Microsoft’s allegation was that Motorola is using its messaging patent in communicating multi-part messages between cellular devices using a standardized interface. Just last week a Munich court ruled that Android-based Motorola devices infringe on a Microsoft messaging patent.
“We’re pleased the court agreed today that Motorola has infringed Microsoft’s intellectual property, and we hope Motorola will be willing to join other Android device makers by taking a license to our patents,” David Howard, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel at Microsoft, said after the win.
Oracle against Google
Oracle is fighting another anti-trust suit against Google for allegedly infringing Oracle’s Java patents and used them in the development for the Android platform. Google has already claimed victory as the jury and the court today decided in favor of Google in several key issues regarding Oracle’s accusations.