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Microsoft targets Motorola and Google in patent claim

Warwick Ashford

Microsoft has lodged a complaint with European competition authorities against phone maker Motorola Mobility, which is in the process of being acquired by Google in a $12.5bn deal .

Microsoft’s complaint states that Motorola Mobility is trying to block sales of Windows PCs, Xbox consoles and other products that use the internet to view video on the web by overcharging for essential industry standard patents that it promised to licence on a fair basis to all.  

“In legal proceedings on both sides of the Atlantic, Motorola is demanding that Microsoft take its products off the market, or else remove their standards-based ability to play video and connect wirelessly,” wrote Dave Heiner, deputy general counsel for Microsoft’s corporate standards and antitrust group in a blog post.

Heiner also alleges that Google, through acquisition target Motorola Mobility, is trying to force Android competitors off the market using these patents.

Apple has also filed a complaint with the European Commission (EC) regarding Motorola Mobility's attempts to enforce patents related to various industry standards.

News of the acquisition sparked speculation that Google, which will get access to more than 17,000 patents held by Motorola Mobility, could use them to provide patent protection to device makers using its Android mobile operating system.

The complaints by Microsoft and Apple are aimed at prompting the EC into acting on concerns it has already expressed over patents being used to abuse market power, according to the Financial Times.

Last week, regulators in the US and Europe approved Google’s planned acquisition of Motorola Mobility, but said they would will continue to keep a close eye on the behaviour of all market players, particularly the increasingly strategic use of patents.

When the acquisition deal was announced, Google chief executive Larry Page said that Motorola Mobility would remain a licensee of Android, and Android will remain open, with Mobility run as a separate entity.

However, the US Department of Justice said that while Apple and Microsoft had made clear commitments over licensing of standard essential patents (SEPs) for use in smartphones, Google's commitments were "more ambiguous and do not provide the same direct confirmation of its SEP licensing policies".

The EC acknowledged that it had received a complaint from Microsoft and that it would investigate the matter.


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