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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

June 1, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Google’s latest EC complaint vs Microsoft: Another patent skirmish

Google on Thursday filed a complaint with the European Commission, alleging that Microsoft and Nokia colluded in getting patents into the hands of what Google called a “patent troll” firm, raising the costs of mobile devices for customers

Google’s complaint centers on 2,000 wireless patents that Nokia and Microsoft sold in September to MOSAID Technologies, a patent acquisition and licensing company, according to the Associated Press, which has more details here.

Google says Nokia and Microsoft “should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices.”

Microsoft has called the complaint a “desperate tactic” on the part of Google, which is facing regulatory scrutiny.

It also appears that Google itself purchased $11 million worth of patents from MOSAID last year, according to a Reuters article.

Florian Mueller, an intellectual property consultant who does consulting work for Microsoft, says on his FOSS Patents blog that the issues Google raised in its complaint to the EC were the same ones that Barnes & Noble had raised before with the U.S. International Trade Commission back when it was fighting a patent battle with Microsoft. The ITC had dismissed those complaints, saying were no antitrust or patent misuse issues involved, Mueller said.

A Google spokesman said Friday that it’s unlikely Mueller has actually read Google’s complaint since the company has not provided it to anyone other than the EC and the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission, which got copies of the EC complaint.

Though Microsoft and Google have been wrangling over patent issues for a while now, it’s largely been a battle by proxy, with Microsoft fighting companies such as Motorola and Barnes & Noble, and working out licensing deals with the likes of Samsung and HTC, which pay Microsoft royalties for the Android products that they produce.

This EC complaint by Google is one of the few battles in which Google is directly involved by name.

Among the other patent fights involving Microsoft and Google that will be coming up in the next several months:

In July, courts in Germany are scheduled to decide on several patents in lawsuits that Microsoft has brought against Motorola.

In August, a final ITC decision is expected on whether MIcrosoft’s Xbox infringes on some of Motorola’s patents. An ITC judge had made an initial ruling that the Xbox does infringe on four of five Motorola patents. A six-member commission will issue the final ruling.

Sometime before a scheduled November trial, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart is expected to issue a decision on whether Motorola breached its agreement to provide to Microsoft access to some of its standards-essential patents at reasonable rates.

[This article has been updated to include more specific information about the Google purchase of patents from MOSAID.]



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