The battle between Google and Microsoft used to be a back room affair. In the last year, it’s turned into an very ugly and public war of words.Now, Microsoft is upping its legal war against Google as well.
This isn’t the first time Microsoft has used the law to fight Google.
Microsoft seeks licence fees from Android resellers and is willing to sue those who don’t comply. Last March, Microsoft added its name to an antitrust complaint against Google that had already been filed by other, smaller companies.
But the new complaint is an escalation.
The complaint accuses Motorola of breaking its promise to licence its patents under “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) terms. Basically, Microsoft is accusing Motorola of charging way too much for using some patents related to the H.264 video standard, which is used for most video on the Web today. Microsoft says it licenses a basket of more than 3,000 patents from 29 other companies for a cost of about $0.02 on a $1,000 laptop.
Motorola wants to charge $22.50 for its 50 patents.
Apple has filed similar complaints against Motorola in Europe.
There is some irony in Microsoft’s charge, as Microsoft allegedly asks for some pretty hefty licensing fees from Android resellers. According to Barnes and Noble — who refused to pay up after using Android on the Nook tablet, and drew a lawsuit from Microsoft in response — Microsoft charges more for licensing 6 patents used in Android than it does to licence the entire Windows Phone platform that it built.
But the situation is a little different there, because Microsoft never licensed these patents for use in a broadly available standard. When patents are used in a standard, they generally are supposed to be made available under FRAND terms.
Google was quick to point out the irony, saying in a statement, “We haven’t seen Microsoft’s complaint, but it’s consistent with the way they use the regulatory process to attack competitors. It’s particularly ironic, given their track record in this area and collaboration with patent trolls.”
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