Microsoft takes on Google directly in German patent lawsuit

Microsoft takes on Google directly in German patent lawsuit

Summary: Microsoft has finally taken its battle against Android directly to the source. In a German courtroom today, Microsoft's lawyers announced they were adding Google as a defendant in a patent-infringement lawsuit against Google subsidiary Motorola Mobility.


Today, in a German courtroom, Microsoft told the judge that it plans to amend its patent infringement lawsuit against Motorola Mobility to name Google as a defendant.

German patent blogger Florian Mueller reported on the development after attending the first hearing in Munich I Regional Court on Microsoft’s complaint against Motorola Mobility over European patent EP0845124, covering a "computer system for identifying local resources and method therefor." (The same technology is covered in U.S. Patent No. 6,240,360.)

Mueller notes that the latest German lawsuit, which was filed in April, targets Android's Google Maps app:

At today's three-hour hearing, Motorola Mobility doggedly denied Microsoft's infringement contentions without specifying how Google's server infrastructure operates. Toward the end of the court session, Microsoft's lead counsel [announced that] Microsoft will amend this complaint in order to add Google Inc., Motorola Mobility's parent company and operator of the server infrastructure that powers the Google Maps Android app, as an additional defendant.

Microsoft has been relentless (and successful) in its attempts to get Android handset makers to sign license agreements. LG, Samsung, and HTC, among others, have all signed licensing deals that put up to $15 in Microsoft’s coffers for every Android device they sell.

Google hoped that its acquisition of Motorola Mobility would change the dynamics of the patent fight, but that hope appears to have been misplaced. Motorola is the largest holdout from Microsoft’s patent demands and thus the biggest target of Redmond’s crack legal team.

In an e-mailed statement, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the news:

It became necessary to add Google to this particular case because Motorola maintains that it lacks sufficient information about actions occurring on Google’s servers. We continue to hope Motorola will join the vast majority of Android device makers by licensing Microsoft’s patented inventions.

Previous victories in German patent actions by Apple and Microsoft have already led Motorola to pull all of its tablets and virtually all of its smartphones from German store shelves.

Today’s action is a significant escalation in Microsoft’s effort to convince Android handset makers that the Android OS isn’t really free and that maybe Windows Phone would be a worthy alternative. Previously, as Mueller notes, Google has been subpoenaed as a third party in Android lawsuits in the United States. Google’s decision to acquire Motorola makes it a direct party in this case.

I've asked a Google spokesperson for comment and will update when they respond.

Topics: Google, Android, Microsoft, Patents

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  • TomTom, Garmin, and lots of others... should be scared, too?

    I took a look at this patent and it looks like this owns the solutions that are used in all today car navigation systems. I don't remember whether there were any such devices before 2000 year, but at least I remember that there were some, just not with a screen, but only with voice. And at least lots of this technology should have been used in military service. I don't know whether this can be treated as prior art - we'll see how it develops in Germany. The problem may be for Microsoft that when it loses, it may be the beginning of the end of its extortion policy against all other companies.
    • Good point about the military

      Doesn't the tomahawk cruise missile use something similar with TERCOM ?
      Alan Smithie
    • LMFAO

      "The problem may be for Microsoft that when it loses, it may be the beginning of the end of its extortion policy against all other companies."

      Some people are just so sadly out of touch. Microsoft has been destroying Motorola/Google in court in Germany and the United States. There have been 17 patent violation victories against Android so far and countless Motorola phones and tablets banned in Germany and the United States. Meanwhile Motorola's FRAND extortion over Xbox has completely backfired and now a US court will determine for Motorola a FRAND licensing agreement with Microsoft. Meanwhile Motorola is under investigation in the US and EU for extorting FRAND terms against Microsoft.

      It is hard to imagine a scenario where Motorola could lose more definitively against Microsoft than what has been happening in the last year. At this point it is fair to speculate that Google wasted over $13 billion on a company that continues to lose millions for them every year. Has Google made any profit off of Android when you factor in the money they completely wasted on Motorola?

      And over 70% of Android manufacturers now pay Microsoft directly for every Android device sold. Other than Samsung, Microsoft might be the only other company significantly benefitting from Android currently.
      • After Tax Considerations

        The actual cost to Google was considerably less ($4bn I seem to remember). I believe Zdnets very own Larry Dignan did a good breakdown of the acquisition a while ago.
        Alan Smithie
    • Doesn't seem like it.

      Most maps do not update over the www as the patent specifies so Offline maps are likely not included.
    • Reality Microsoft

      Microsoft patent Troll !
      Josy Vieira
      • Reality Microsoft

        microsoft patent Troll
        Josy Vieira
  • Two monsters square off: Microsoft vs. Google in a German courtroom

    To many Germans, this clash must be a bit like the classic battle between Godzilla and King Ghidorah was to the Japanese in 1991:

    And, like the Japanese flick, there will likely be sequels in courtrooms elsewhere.

    May the best monster win.

    P.S. 1 Don't assume by the name ordering that I have cast Microsoft as Godzilla and Google as King Ghidorah.

    P.S. 2 I'm a little surprised that Apple and Google didn't square off first. I half-expected that Apple would add Google as a defendant in its California northern district court battle with Samsung. Perhaps if there is a retrial ...
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • Uh, cause Apple relies on Google maps...

      Apple figures in the other way around. One of Microsoft's extortion tools is using previous victims as proof of the legitimacy of their claims. Apple and MS though have a special relationship. They pay each other a billion dollars to license each other's patents. So, it 's like this. I give you a dollar. You give me a dollar. We both still have a dollar. Then, we each go to a judge and offer each other's dollars as evidence for why our neighbors should be compelled to give us dollars.
      • No more google maps on Apple products.

        Starting with iPhone 5 and all new iProducts(including updates on old products) will replace google maps with Apple maps.
        • Well that explains....

          why apple dropped Google maps because they don't want to risk have give $15 for each iPhone 5 (though they could probably afford ten times that and still make a profit. As far as I am concerned Microsoft and Apple are now the bad guys and google should get together with all the other mobile phone companies and try to screw them both over. How can you claim a patent on maps for goodness sake - there have been maps around for years and navigating them on mobile devices is an obvious use that probably they all thought of - why should the first one on the block claim any rights - it is a colossal waste of the money that we put in their banks.
          I am coming to the conclusion that patents should not be issued to or owned by large companies at all - they are big enough to defend their place in the market - patents should exist to protect the actual inventor and once he makes his money by selling the patent it should then expire.

          These companies should spend what they pay to their lawyers, to third world countries and the poor in their own country. Please don't come back and say they do this because I know they do BUT they could do many times more than they do.
          • Explains what?

            Cymru999 said, " patents should exist to protect the actual inventor and once he makes his money by selling the patent it should then expire."

            So who would buy a patent from the inventor if after buying the patent it expires? I invent something, a company buys it for a million dollars and then the patent is no longer vailid and so all companies can use it! Think before you type!
          • Its a retarded system, but cymru999 made a retarded comment.

            You hit nail #1 on the head bcallen when you pointed out that "patents should exist to protect the actual inventor and once he makes his money by selling the patent it should then expire." is a stupid idea. It essentially means that if the system was altered to work that way the only reason to purchase a patent would be to avoid related fees, but as soon as you do everyone now avoids those fees because the original inventor and owner of the patent no longer owns it. Who wants to make the plunge and pay any more than a $1.99 for a patent that has not only no monetary value the instant you purchase it, but also opens the doors to all your competitors to use the very same tech you paid for free.

            It just goes to show you how people around here are more than willing to open their mouth on a subject they know absolutely nothing about and think they have something close to enough brains to solve the ridiculous problem that exists with a simple post on ZDNet.

            Life doesn’t work anything close to what it seems far too many people think it does. The system itself is only ridiculous because it’s a problem with no easy solution. People who can see its ridiculous had better also see it ridiculous because nobody can figure out how to fix it.
          • In once sense I agree

            Most of our current systems are based on greed. I can see how patents protect excessive profits what I cannot see is how they benefit mankind in general, and that should always be the purpose of law.

            I remember years ago there was a rumour rife that someone had invented a cheap sustainable alternative to Petrol and that the motor industry had bought the patent and secured it away. Ok I realised at the time that this probably. wasn't true, but theoretically it could have been and that could have been against the wider interest of mankind.
          • Not even theorectically close.....

            If the oil companies had bought a patent for a cheap sustainable alternative to Petro then they would have been happy making billions selling that to us instead of oil.
          • Exactly

            And everyone, including the oil companies, would benefit.
          • Microsoft takes on Google directly in German patent lawsuit

            cymru999's problem is a complete lack of understanding of free market economics.
          • Fischer–Tropsch process

            WW II vintage coal or natural gas to high grade fuel. Worked for the NAZI. Lost sight of it after WW II now it has resurfaced and there are several plants that use it. Of course the coal to oil US plant was dismantled by Reagan and sold after being built it was prevented from operating and dismantled hopefully to never challenge oil again. There are vested interests like who gets how much money. Better to drive the price high by artificial shortage. You need to know that innovation can upset the status quo. That is an important idea, status quo drives civilization not innovation..
      • RE: Uh, cause Apple relies on Google maps...

        Nope, not maps. Here's a link to an article (and an excerpt) that hints at a potential Google vulnerability with Android's Quick Search Box:
        "Apple claimed that the Quick Search Box used on the Nexus infringes one of its patents. But this search box is a feature of Android, not something specific to the Nexus. "The release of the allegedly infringing version of the Android platform predates the release of the Galaxy Nexus, but Google is not a defendant in this suit," the appeals court said.

        And a link to another article that hints at potential Google vulnerabilities with the Samsung Nexus 4 GS smartphone:
        o claim 19 of the '381 utility patent (bounce-back or rubberbanding)
        o claim 8 of '915 utility patent (distinguishing between one-finger scroll and two-finger zoom)
        o design patent D'677 (rounded rectangle, edge-to-edge glass, thin bezel, horizontal speaker for phone)
        o design patent D'087 (home button, rounded corners, front edge border for phone)
        o design patent D'305 (grid icon layout, icon dock at bottom)

        Remember that Google's Nexus devices are sold and supported by Google.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
  • In other words

    M$ wants to see how G does things, things they do much better than M$ they can steal the tech.