Microsoft files patent suit against Motorola over Android

Microsoft files patent suit against Motorola over Android

Summary: Microsoft said today that it has filed suit against Motorola for patent infringement related to Motorola's Android smartphones. Microsoft filed the suit in U.

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Microsoft said today that it has filed suit against Motorola for patent infringement related to Motorola's Android smartphones. Microsoft filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Washington and also filed a complaint to the International Trade Commission.

Details of the exact patents listed in the complaints weren't immediately unavailable but, in a statement, Horatio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing for Microsoft, said:

The patents at issue relate to a range of functionality embodied in Motorola’s 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. We have a responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to safeguard the billions of dollars we invest each year in bringing innovative software products and services to market. Motorola needs to stop its infringement of our patented inventions in its Android smartphones.

The complaints are not the first targeted at the makers of Google's Android mobile operating system. In March, Apple sued HTC for infringing on 20 patents related to the iPhone "user interface, underlying architecture and hardware."

However, with Apple going after HTC and Microsoft now going after Motorola - and both filing formal complaints with the ITC - it's clear that there's a bigger target out there: Google.

In a blog post that elaborated on his official statement, Microsoft's Gutierrez said:

Our action today merely seeks to ensure respect for our intellectual property rights infringed by Android devices; and judging by the recent actions by Apple and Oracle, we are not alone in this respect.

In August, Oracle filed a patent infringement suit against Google, alleging that the company developed Android and "directly and repeatedly infringed Oracle's Java-related intellectual property.

While the Apple-HTC suit and now Microsoft-Motorola suits both sound they have beefs with Android, neither have gone directly after Google, choosing instead to take the device makers to court.

In April, Microsoft and HTC reached an agreement on a licensing payment for HTC's use of patented technology being used in phones running Android.

Interestingly enough, the suits are piling up on the heels of reports about Android's growth momentum. Last month, ComScore said that Android was the only smartphone platform to see a market share gain in July, a five percent jump from April.

At the same time, Windows Phone 7 - the platform for Microsoft's next wave of smartphones - could be released as early as this month.

In an increasingly crowded category that appears to be a two-company race - Google vs. Apple - and with market leader RIM working hard to hang on to its lead and relevance, there's been little mention of Microsoft as a contender in a category that it's re-entering well behind the others.

Related:

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones

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115 comments
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  • I'm sure this is less about dollars

    and more about gaining access to yet another company's patent portfolio. But this further demonstrates how we need to stop giving patents to obvious ideas but rather save them for real innovation.
    Michael Kelly
    • Agreed...

      As these patents do not appear to be innovative.

      "...including synchronizing email, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power."

      None of the above are innovative. All are obvious. These patent(s) will not hold up in court. I hope Motorola doesn't settle and counter-sues Microsoft for attorney fees. Somebody needs to invalidate these rubber-stamped patents. Would be nice if an industry watchdog put the patent office on notice.

      Would be a neat trick to sue THEM (yes, USPTO) for whatever it costs to defend against these crazy patents. Perhaps THAT will wake them up to the harm they are causing.

      -Mike
      SpikeyMike
      • I totally agree.

        @SpikeyMike
        This is like Ford complaining that other automobile companies are using a gasoline engine, steering wheel, and glove compartment. Or like saying that I can patent my driving rout to work and nobody else can take that same route.
        smug1@...
      • RE: Microsoft files patent suit against Motorola over Android

        @SpikeyMike
        so tell me who had automatic synchronization before Microsoft?

        Know what was one of the most profitable automotive patents ever? Automatic windshield wipers. Another object taken for common that made a lot of money based on patents were Phillips head fasteners. Why do you think there are so many types of heads on fasteners? It was cheaper/better to engineer a new way that to pay Phillips.
        mswift@...
      • RE: Microsoft files patent suit against Motorola over Android

        @SpikeyMike

        Somebody must have patented one of those little battery testers at some point, right? They should sue the crap out of Microsoft! Windows has gauged battery strength for laptops for over a decade!
        tkejlboom
      • RE: Microsoft files patent suit against Motorola over Android

        @SpikeyMike

        It's not about what is obvious, it's about how you do it. The issue here is the ActiveSync protocol. The same protocol that Microsoft puts in it's mobile devices and the same protocol that Apple licenses for Snow Leopard and the iOS. It's also the same protocol that Linux developers have been trying to reverse engineer for years and still can't get right. So instead of Android-based phone companies paying Microsoft a royalty for implementing ActiveSync, they'd rather implement a shoddy, reverse-engineered version of it.
        jmiller1978
      • RE: Microsoft files patent suit against Motorola over Android

        @SpikeyMike

        They may be obvious now, but they may not have been at the time the disputed patents (and we've been given no idea of what they may be) were applied for.

        Hindsight is 20/20.
        msalzberg
      • RE: Microsoft files patent suit against Motorola over Android

        @SpikeyMike
        You don't understand. The actual patent is more specific than that.
        illegaloperation
      • RE: Microsoft files patent suit against Motorola over Android

        @SpikeyMike

        Agreed, it is all about lawyer greed, too many law suits popping up more to make money for lawyers than to defend real patent infringement issues.

        MORTGAGE-FREE-HOMES.com
        MobileCellCash
      • To create sync framework is not a joke..

        @SpikeyMike
        They are using micrsoft patented sync framework.Hence ,this lawsuit.

        There is no lawsuit against BB. and yeah, aaple ,HTC ,Samsung are already paying license fees to use ActiveSync..
        nileshmsu
    • RE: Microsoft files patent suit against Motorola over Android

      @Michael Kelly
      Its always about money.

      From InformationWeek:

      The company's board cut CEO Steve Ballmer's bonus due to Microsoft's loss of mobile phone market share and failure to match Apple's iPad.

      Hooay!
      daikon
    • RE: Microsoft files patent suit against Motorola over Android

      @Michael Kelly An open letter to Microsoft. You have had a monopoly on the operating system almost as long as I lived. Now after many years, there suddenly appeared a competitor, then you become scared and try to sue to protect yourselves. What you do not realize is that you are hampering the development of IT.

      I think a lot has tracked in that it has only been an operating system of choice. You have made money in abundance because of that you basically had a monopoly situation. I must say that Microsoft is so low that it makes me puke. Now take your senses and withdraw the lawsuit against Motorola and start competing on equal terms. If you do not, I hope many of us try to choose products other than from you.
      This leads to more expensive and inferior products. It inhibits the development. And you might ask do you want openness and democracy?

      I want it.
      Sultansulan
    • RE: Microsoft files patent suit against Motorola over Android

      @Michael Kelly
      M$ must be spripped of all its patents and investigated by DOJ!
      Linux Geek
      • And what will this accomplish?

        @Linux Geek n/t
        athynz
  • Google not only steals from Apple

    now they're stealing from Microsoft and Oracle. Sounds like Google needs to be investigated -- the sooner the better.
    iPad-awan
    • RE: Microsoft files patent suit against Motorola over Android

      @iPad-awan I would disagree. These lawsuits have not yet proceeded, so there is no proof anybody stole anything from anybody else.

      The more interesting thing here is everybody attacking the fastest-growing entity, trying to slow it down via lawsuite - how boring and how unimaginative. Apple is the only one that can be respected as they are innovating and have something to protect.

      Microsoft sounds disingenuous - protecting their customers and partners? From what? Microsoft left nothing to protect! They don't exist in this market - they seek to catch up by forcing Google to hand over their intellectual property in a settlement we see all to often in this type of case.

      They can't possibly be serious about suing over email synchronization, et. al? They sure did not invent Email, and they sure did not invent synchronizing it - others did.

      Microsoft - you will not get your customers back by suing the successful! You will get them back by putting innovators back in charge and putting product out again like you used to!
      kroels
      • RE: Microsoft files patent suit against Motorola over Android

        @kroels
        Microsoft innovate? That, sadly, would be a first.
        Joe@...
      • RE: Microsoft files patent suit against Motorola over Android

        @kroels

        Why do you respect Apple? They are doing the same thing as Microsoft-- Litigating instead of innovating.
        chemist109
      • RE: Microsoft files patent suit against Motorola over Android

        @kroels
        The patent is more specific than that. I am sure it's the way something is implanted.
        illegaloperation
    • Surely you jest?

      @iPad-awan <br>I understand Oracle's position - Google basically made an incompatible JRE - Kinda like Microsoft did. See: <a href="http://www.javaworld.com/javaworld/jw-01-2001/jw-0124-iw-mssuncourt.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.javaworld.com/javaworld/jw-01-2001/jw-0124-iw-mssuncourt.html</a><br><br><br>As for Google/Motorola 'stealing' from Microsoft - surely you understand that the USPTO is understaffed and has no competence in these matters. The concepts that Microsoft patented will not stand up to review, once the experts get involved.<br><br>Software patents, in general, are a very bad idea. This, from a software developer. Copyright is the only thing that should be allowed, anything else is just silly.<br><br>-Mike
      SpikeyMike