This morning, Microsoft filed formal competition law charges with the European Commission against Motorola Mobility in relation to its 'abuse' of Standard Essential Patents, on the heels of Apple's EU Antitrust complaint against the company.
The Standard Essential Patents issue has been discussed in great detail in light of the announcements by the U.S. Justice Department and European Commission regarding the Google/Motorola Mobility transaction, and now that two industry leaders have lodged complaints, the matter is unlikely to be taken lightly.
It is reasonable to assume that a formal investigation into the issue is looking more certain.
Microsoft has taken this step as 'Motorola is attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, the Xbox game console and other products' -- the offence in itself being that these products allow users to view videos on the Internet and connect wirelessly through industry standards.
As much as technology users may take this common access for granted, it was made possible due to industry leaders collating to define common technical standards that every firm can implement and develop within their individual product lines for both video and WiFi connectivity.
However, patent issues were likely to lurk on the horizon due to this agreement. Therefore, according to Dave Heiner, Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Corporate Standards & Antitrust Group, Microsoft:
"Motorola and all the other firms that contributed to these standards also made a promise to one another: that if they had any patents essential to the standards, they would make their patents available on fair and reasonable terms, and would not use them to block competitors from shipping their products.
Motorola has broken its promise. Motorola is on a path to use standard essential patents to kill video on the Web, and Google as its new owner doesn’t seem to be willing to change course."
If every industry leader took the same line, it can be assumed that industry standards and the wireless technology we have come to expect within our devices could become a thing of the past -- expensive or restricted patents rendering intellectual property operable by a limited amount of companies.
Motorola is currently demanding that Microsoft takes its products off the market; citing that the 'standards-based ability' to play video and connect wirelessly belongs to it through its patented technology.
The European Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice are now involved. Apple's complaint has begun the process, Microsoft's has the potential to compel the authorities to launch a formal inquiry.
Whereas Microsoft, Apple and Cisco have stated that they will not seek injunctions against other firms on the basis of standard-essential products, Google has not done so.
According to Foss Patents, Joaquin Almunia, the European Union’s Competition Commissioner, said:
"I can assure you that the Commission will take further action if warranted to ensure that the use of standard essential patents by all players in the sector is fully compliant with EU competition law and with the FRAND commitments given to standard setting organisations."
If FRAND terms are rejected, and corporations including Google chose not to enter the discussion concerning such patent worries, the 'everywhere, anytime' connectivity we have become used to may be in jeopardy.
- Apple files EU antitrust complaint over Motorola patents
- Apple wins injunction against Motorola slide-to-unlock phones
- Chinese authorities reviewing Google, Motorola merger
- Google/ Motorola deal okayed: Time for Motorola Nexus line
- Android now paying the price for iOS similarities