Microsoft has filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Motorola, alleging that its Google Android smartphones violate nine patents. Android phone makers have been in Microsoft's patent crosshairs.
Microsoft has filed an intellectual-property lawsuit against Motorola,
alleging that the manufacturer's Google Android smartphones violate nine of its
"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, "including synchronizing email, calendars and
contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal
strength and battery power."
Gutierrez added, "Motorola needs to stop its infringement of our
patented inventions in its Android smartphones."
Over the past few months, Microsoft has become more aggressive with
manufacturers about its intellectual property as it relates to Android-powered
phones. On April 27, HTC acknowledged that
it would pay royalties to Microsoft in exchange for the use of "patented
technology" in its Android-powered smartphones.
Since the launch of its IP licensing program in 2003, Microsoft has entered into
more than 600 licensing agreements with companies ranging from Apple to
Hewlett-Packard. Those types of licensing deals allow companies to not only
create partnerships, but also avoid the sort of costly patent-infringement
lawsuits sprouting like mushrooms throughout the tech industry at the moment.
But that HTC agreement, along with the
Motorola lawsuit, suggests that Microsoft is taking an aggressive stance with
regard to patents and open source in the smartphone arena. "We have built
a significant patent portfolio in this field," Gutierrez wrote in an April
statement e-mailed to eWEEK, "and we have a responsibility to our
customers, partners, and shareholders to ensure that competitors do not ride
free on our innovations."
At the same time, he added, "We have also consistently taken a
proactive approach to licensing to resolve IP infringement by other companies,
and have been talking with several device manufacturers to address our concerns
relative to the Android mobile platform."
Android relies on Linux kernel v2.6 for core system services such as "security,
memory management, process management, network stack, and driver model," according
to the Android Developers Website. Linux has been a traditional bone of
contention for Microsoft; in a number of speeches, Microsoft
CEO Steve Ballmer has suggested that the open-source platform violates a
variety of patents.
When news of the HTC agreement first went
public, a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK, "Microsoft's
policy is one of mutual respect for IP and we are committed to licensing our IP
on reasonable terms." Phone manufacturers such as HTC,
the spokesperson added, "are sophisticated businesses that have a track
record of licensing patents to secure the necessary IP rights for their
Android is also slated to face off against Microsoft's upcoming Windows
Phone 7 platform. That alone may be reason for Microsoft to take its aggressive
intellectual-property stance against certain phone manufacturers.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.