Microsoft and Apple patent pact could drive Android prices up, warns Google


Microsoft and Apple patent pact could drive Android prices up, warns Google

Jenny Williams

Google claims a pact between Microsoft and Apple to acquire patents threatens to increase the cost of Android devices.

Writing in a blog post, David Drummond, senior vice president and chief legal officer at Google, said Android's success has caused companies like Microsoft, Oracle and Apple to create an organised campaign, "waged through bogus patents".

"Our competitors are waging a patent war on Android and working together to keep us from getting patents that would help balance the scales," he wrote.

"We're also looking at other ways to reduce the anti-competitive threats against Android by strengthening our own patent portfolio. Unless we act, consumers could face rising costs for Android devices - and fewer choices for their next phone," he said.

Drummond said the companies have banded together to acquire Novell's and Nortel's old patents as well as "seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device".

He added the company is "encouraged" that the Department of Justice is looking into whether Microsoft and Apple acquired the Nortel patents for anti-competitive means.

Microsoft defended its actions, saying it invited Google to bid jointly for the patents.

In a Twitter message, Brad Smith, general counsel and senior vice president of legal and corporate affairs at Microsoft, said, "Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no."

But Drummond replied, saying a joint acquisition of the Novell patents, giving all parties a licence, would have eliminated any protection that patents could offer Android against attacks from Microsoft and partners.

"We didn't fall for it," he said.

Google faces a total of nine anti-trust complaints which EU regulators are now investigating, two sources said on Tuesday, according to a report from Reuters.

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