Google accuses Microsoft, Nokia of patent 'trolling'

Summary:The patent wars hit another twist: Google says Microsoft and Nokia are colluding to fire the patent cannon through a third-party, while the smartphone partners accused Google of "abuse".

Google has accused Microsoft and Nokia of conspiring to use their patents against their smartphone rivals --- including the search giant --- and has complained to the European Commission.

Yep, another antitrust suit.

The search and mobile giant said in its complain to Europe's regulators that Microsoft and Nokia transferred 2,000 patents to the MOSAID group. The intellectual property company has been dubbed a "patent troll" that aggressively seeks litigation against alleged infringers.

Google said it had kept the U.S. Justice Dept. and the Federal Trade Commission in the loop.

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.

It's no surprise Google is worried. Some of the patents cover the Linux Kernel --- used by Google in its market share busting Android operating system --- and could cause future harm to the software if litigated on.

MOSAID may be in breach of a 2005 regulatory agreement Nokia signed where it said Linux Kernel-related patents would not be enforced, Google said.

Microsoft and Nokia teamed up in 2011 to bring Windows Phone to Nokia's Lumia hardware. Nokia has already had its foot in the patent lawsuit door, and is now enlisting the help of its smartphone partner to join in with the patent-slinging party.

In May, Google was given the all-clear by Chinese antitrust regulators, paving the way for an acquisition of Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. In the deal, Google acquired more than 17,000 mobile patents.
The timing of this seems to indicate an ongoing case of patent oneupmanship.

Google has been accused of throwing stones from its glass house --- again. Microsoft fired back calling Google's move a "desperate tactic". Nokia said in a statement, despite it not seeing the complaint, that Google's assertions are "wrong."

"Google is complaining about antitrust in the smartphone industry when it controls more than 95 percent of mobile search and advertising," Microsoft said in an emailed statement to Reuters. It noted Google's length of legal battles regarding patents and accused it of standard-essential patent "abuse".

Image credit: CNET.

Related:

Topics: Nokia

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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