Microsoft found itself accused of patent infringement by Motorola, a day after it filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer.
Microsoft's legal battles with Motorola entered a new stage Nov. 10, with
the latter's Motorola Mobility subsidiary filing patent-infringement complaints
against the software giant with the U.S. District Courts for the Southern
District of Florida and the Western District of Wisconsin.
Motorola is complaining that Microsoft's PC and Server software, Windows
Phone software and Xbox products violate 16 of its patents. The patents
themselves seem wide-ranging, allegedly involved in everything from Microsoft's
e-mail technology and Bing maps to the Xbox's digital video coding and WiFi
Motorola's legal action seems to be a response to Microsoft's
lawsuit filed Nov. 9 against the manufacturer
, alleging that it violated
agreements to license at "reasonable rates" patents related to H.264
video compression and wireless LAN.
In that lawsuit, Microsoft argued that Motorola had made patent-related
commitments to both the IEEE-SA (Institute
of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers Standards Association) and ITU
(International Telecommunications Union).
"Motorola broke its promise to IEEE-SA and its members and affiliates
by refusing to offer Microsoft a license that is consistent with Clause 6 of
IEEE-SA Standards Board Bylaws, instead demanding royalties that are excessive
and discriminatory," reads a section
from Microsoft's lawsuit
, which was filed with the United States District
Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle.
"Microsoft broke its promise to ITU and
its members and affiliates by refusing to offer Microsoft a license that is
consistent with the Common Patent Policy of the ITU,
instead demanding royalties that are excessive and discriminatory."
In the case of the Microsoft lawsuit, the products in question include PCs
loaded with Windows 7, Windows Phone 7 smartphones and the Xbox 360 console.
Microsoft claims that Motorola wants its patent royalties adjusted to the price
of those end products, as opposed to the component software-a demand far too
arduous to let stand, argued the company's attorneys.
Motorola has positioned its newest lawsuit as one of straight-up patent
"Motorola's R&D and intellectual property are of great importance
to the Company and are renowned worldwide," Kirk Dailey, corporate vice
president of intellectual property at Motorola Mobility, wrote
in a Nov. 10 statement posted on Motorola's corporate Website
. "We are
committed to protecting the interests of our shareholders, customers and other
stakeholders and are bringing this action against Microsoft in order to halt
its infringement of key Motorola patents."
Dailey then alluded to Microsoft's lawsuit against Motorola: "It is
unfortunate ... that Microsoft has chosen the litigation path rather than
entering into comprehensive licensing negotiations, as Motorola has mutually
beneficial licensing relationships with the majority of technology companies
In October, Microsoft filed an intellectual-property lawsuit against
Motorola, alleging that the manufacturer's line of Google Android smartphones
violated nine of its patents. "The patents at issue relate to a range of
functionality embodied in Motorola's Android smartphone devices that are
essential to the smartphone user experience," Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's
corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of intellectual property
and licensing, wrote
in an Oct. 1 statement
At the time, Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha
indicated publicly his willingness to continue working with Microsoft.
Nonetheless, each new legal salvo threatens to further darken the relationship
between the companies.