Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

Summary: In the latest round in the never-ending patent wars, Microsoft has filed an antitrust complaint in the EU over Motorola Mobility's video-patent-licensing terms.

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On the heels of Apple filing an antitrust patent complaint against Mototrola Mobility, Microsoft has done the same in the European Union.

On February 22, Microsoft officials said they'd filed a formal complaint over Motorola Mobility's -- and parent Google's -- policies around making standard, essential patents available on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms. Microsoft specifically is targeting the amount Motorola Mobility's is seeking Microsoft to pay for licensing video patents.

Here's the back story: In November 2011, Microsoft sued Motorola again over wireless and video coding patents that are used by the Xbox and smartphones. In the latter case, Microsoft claimed that Motorola is charging excessive royalties for its patents. Motorola retaliated with its own countersuit shortly thereafter, claiming infringement of 16 of its patents by Microsoft’s PC and server software, Windows Mobile and Xbox products.

From a blog post noting the EU antitrust filing from Microsoft's Vice President & Deputy General Counsel David Heiner:

"We have taken this step because Motorola is attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, our Xbox game console and other products. Their offense? These products enable people to view videos on the Web and to connect wirelessly to the Internet using industry standards."

Heiner said in the post that for a $1,000 laptop, Motorola is seeking Microsoft pay $22.50 in royalties for licensing 50 patents around the H.264 video standard. (Motorola is seeking significantly higher royalties for more expensive laptops, he said.) He contrasted that with the considerably lower royalties that Microsoft and other companies are charging for their own H.264 patents on FRAND terms.

Microsoft recently publicized its stance that it won't seek injunctions against other firms’ products on the basis of standard essential products.

Heiner also used the ocassion of the new antitrust suit filing to take another Android-patent-related swipe at Google, which recently obtained antitrust clearance to buy Motorola Mobility. From Heiner's post:

"Google says that it is just trying to protect manufacturers of Android devices against patent actions by Microsoft and others. But there are big differences between Google’s approach and Microsoft’s. Microsoft is not seeking to block Android manufacturers from shipping products on the basis of standard essential patents. Rather, Microsoft is focused on infringement of patents that it has not contributed to any industry standard. And Microsoft is making its patents—standard essential and otherwise—available to all Android manufacturers on fair and reasonable terms. In fact, more than 70 percent of Android devices are now licensed to use Microsoft’s patent portfolio."

Update: A Google spokesperson gave Geekwire the following statement about Microsoft's legal action today: "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.”

Topics: Legal, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Mobility, Security

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

    googorola. patent troll 2.0
    neonspark
    • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

      @neonspark

      So MS happily charge android oems extortionate amounts, but don't want to pay up for licences themselves? Stay classy M$.
      Sultansulan
      • You should try Staying classy yourself

        @Sultansulan <br><br> I see it's not working.
        William Farrel
      • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

        @Sultansulan
        Just wondering...are MS's patents part of a communciations standard or other infrastrucucture.
        global.philosopher
      • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

        @Sultansulan
        Also wondering if MS patent agreement are a set fee or a percentage. Isn't the problem that a if you put in a component that costs 20 cents into a device that is say a $3,000,000 mainframe why should you pay 2.25% x $3,000,000 = $67,000
        global.philosopher
    • googorola

      Well "googorola" has at least a sense of humor. Remember the Webm/H.264 discussions. Here only a few titles out of the many on this site.
      - By dropping H.264, is Google avoiding a trap or walking into one?
      - Google Chrome to drop H.264 support; roadblock to HTML5?
      - Microsoft adds H.264 support to Google Chrome
      - Google prepares to ruin Chrome browser
      - A closer look at the costs (and fine print) of H.264 licenses
      - Google's WebM video standard - Help or hindrance?
      and especially:
      - First legal shots fired at Google's VP8 codec
      And now we hear some screaming about killing video playing. Should it perhaps not sound more like killing a cash-cow form of video playing?
      Motorola Mobility accused for antitrust behavior. But this could well end up in blocking the big company's behind H.264 in making it in to a industry standard. A cash collecting industry standard. Collecting from us, the users.
      Suggest a few solutions.
      MS removes H.264 and supports WebM and it's development.
      A nice deal, the group can use Motorola's patents and Google can use the same number of H.264 patents from the group.
      Google and the group will not attack each other in court about patents.
      OK, this is all very premature, no free HTML 5 yet, but still quite funny.
      somereader
  • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

    The EU will largely ignore the complaint because its from Microsoft. EU has a known history of doing this.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

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  • this is outrageous!

    M$ is trying to appropriate or steal Motorola's innovations. The people should stand up and demand the end of this mockery of justice.<br>M$ must pay the piper for using others ideas!
    The Linux Geek
    • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

      @The Linux Geek

      "Pay the pepper?"
      msalzberg
      • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

        @msalzberg
        fixed it. that does not change the message intent.
        The Linux Geek
    • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

      @The Linux Geek

      They want to but if every other licensee is paying at a maximum $0.20 why should MS pay $22.50?
      the.nameless.drifter
      • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

        @the.nameless.drifter
        because M$ is greedy and does not play nice with FOSS.
        The Linux Geek
      • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

        @the.nameless.drifter : Why bother. the Geek has a one track mind. WAnts everything for free but scr?w anyone who is against Linux.
        Gisabun
    • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

      @The Linux Geek

      No, nor does it change the fact that you don't seem to understand the concept of Standards Essential Patents or of Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory agreements.
      msalzberg
      • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

        @msalzberg
        FRAND applies only to non aggressors.
        The Linux Geek
      • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

        @The Linux Geek

        FRAND only applies to non-aggressors? Really? Can you cite the law that states that?
        msalzberg
      • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

        @msalzberg: Neither does MS, that charges unreasonable amounts for supporting filenames longer than 8:3 in FAT file systems...
        Natanael_L
      • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

        @Natanael_L

        If Microsoft has a patent that isn't part of a FRAND agreement, they can charge whatever they want for royalties for the use of their intellectual property. That's the reward for innovation.
        msalzberg
    • RE: Microsoft files antitrust patent complaint in EU against Motorola

      @The Linux Geek by your definition of greedy, then Motorola is beyond greedy, exceedingly so.
      grayknight-22253692004129760887070084760051