Skip to comments.Microsoft Sues Motorola Over Android Smartphones
Posted on 10/04/2010 7:59:37 AM PDT by ShadowAce
Microsoft has been talking smack to Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) of late, charging the search giant's Android operating system isn't as "free" as the company says it is and hinting that Android could end up entangled in a patent infringement lawsuit.
But talk is cheap. On Friday, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) took a much bolder step, suing Motorola (NYSE: MOT) for allegedly infringing nine of the software titan's patents in its Droid mobile handsets, which are powered by Android.
"Microsoft filed an action today in the International Trade Commission and in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against Motorola for infringement of nine Microsoft patents by Motorolas Android-based smartphones," Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft deputy general counsel, said in a blog post.
"The patents at issue relate to a range of functionality embodied in Motorolas Android smartphone devices that are essential to the smartphone user experience, including synchronizing email, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power," he added.
A Motorola spokesperson had no immediate comment.
"Motorola has not received a copy of the complaint, therefore we cannot comment at this point," the spokesperson said. "Motorola has a leading intellectual property portfolio, one of the strongest in the industry. The company will vigorously defend itself in this matter."
Besides suing Motorola in U.S. District Court, Microsoft also launched a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission. The commission has the power to ban imports of products if they're found to be infringing.
Microsoft's suit requests treble damages, compensatory damages, and court costs, as well as a permanent injunction. That last item could completely undercut support for Android unless Motorola moves fast.
Motorola makes the popular Droid line of smartphones. In July, Motorola held 20 percent share of the U.S. market for smartphones, the third-largest, following LG (21 percent), and Samsung (23 percent), according to analytics firm comScore (NASDAQ: SCOR).
Android is based on the Linux kernel, so the message seems obvious.
Microsoft has been rattling its legal saber for more than three years about some 235 patents it claims that Linux vendors are infringing. However, the company has yet to sue any Linux vendors to date over the patent claims.
A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that the suit against Motorola and the Android operating system is directly related to the earlier Linux discussion.
"Yes but lets be clear. This action is directed at a commercial entity, not a community. Technology companies that utilize open source software in their commercial products are sophisticated, revenue-generating businesses and as such, have the ability to license patents to secure the necessary IP rights for their products," the spokesperson told InternetNews.com.
The lawsuit comes at a time when Microsoft is about to launch Windows Phone 7, its challenger to Android-based smartphones and the iPhone.
As recently as August, Microsoft executives had been banging on their shields, proclaiming that Android isn't free, and that one of the benefits to both developers and customers if they go with a Microsoft solution is that the software giant will indemnify anyone who gets sued for intellectual property violations related to the company's products.
"Our action today merely seeks to ensure respect for our intellectual property rights infringed by Android devices; and ... we are not alone in this respect," Gutierrez said in a post to the Microsoft on the Issues blog Friday.
Microsoft's move is the latest attack on Android. In August, Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) sued Google for infringing several of its Java patents in Android.
But Microsoft's actions worry Florian Mueller, an opponent of software patents.
"These patent suits brought forward by industry giants with massive patent portfolios unmatched by Google are dark clouds over Android. Google must now act constructively and try to work out amicable arrangements with those right holders," Florian Mueller, founder of the NoSoftwarePatents campaign in Europe, said on his blog following Microsoft's filing.
"Otherwise I'm afraid that third-party application developers investing their money, creativity and hard work in the Android platform will be harmed because of an irresponsible approach to intellectual property in a market in which patents have always played an essential role," Mueller added.
I wonder if Microsoft has patented the blue screen of death?
why is that success always breeds endless lawsuits?
In fact, I cannot remember the last time one of my personal computers crashed.
Ah yes, Microsoft, going where companies go that can’t compete in the open market.
Now maybe if MS ever released a product that didn’t still need a year or two of beta testing....
This Microsoft suit just says "We're WAY behind in the market, so we're going to sue you to slow you down so we can catch up."
Way back I said the Microsoft deal with HTC was so HTC could avoid a lawsuit. Looks like I was right. Moto didn't settle and pay Microsoft any
protection licensing money, so got sued.
To be fair to Microsoft, the only BSoD I’ve ever seen were due to hardware failures; the fault of Intel and PNY, but not Microsoft.
Me neither...4 running xp and 1 using vista running all day long.
Most “blue screens of death” that I have seen on Windows XP machines were related to the low quality memory that was used or to the owner buying memory at Office Max. I build my computers and did not see any BSOD on my XP machines or my Windows 7 machines.
I believe they have, as well as the your system has become unstable an needs to be restarted pop up window......
Microsoft: Suing the companies SCO won’t sue!
Can’t beat ‘em, sue ‘em!!!
I truly believe MS sees the writing on the wall regarding smart phones - Android and Apple’s iOS blow the doors off of the Windows Mobile platform, making that antiquated mobile OS look like a kludge. MS cannot compete without directly copying those other two, so instead - send up a lawsuit and see what they can do...
I woulda bet that Apple owned that patent.
The BSOD I used to see in NT/2K/XP were from driver or installer problems not the Windows kernel. You can’t
blame MS for third party priveleged code.
I have no problem paying them 10% on the zeroes, but the ones...not so much.
US Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, a.k.a., the Copyright Clause, "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."
I'm starting to think that all patent and copyright lawsuits should first go through an arbitration board. Make it a $100 filing fee and a maximum filing of two pages, plus one page per claim. The first job of the board will be to see whether the lawsuit within the whole of the situation fits the aims of the above clause. If not, the suit is dismissed. Next, the board could make a summary judgment, if there is obvious merit and infringement, immediately award to the plaintiff, and vice versa. Otherwise, direct to trial. Staff the board with copyright experts and patent examiners. Make them all extensively read the writings of Jefferson and Madison (the two who most shaped the Copyright Clause) before taking their positions.
You can blame Microsoft for allowing third party code that privileged access as of NT 4, where previously it did not have such access. OS X does this too, but then all that privileged code goes through or is written by Apple for its known set of hardware.
Computers are fast enough now that I think it's time to finally go to the microkernel architecture. We have so much computing power we can afford to waste some of it to gain that robustness.
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