Android and Everything After

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2010-12-23 Print this article Print


Smartphone Lawsuits

Microsoft also became more aggressive with manufacturers about intellectual property as it related to Android-powered smartphones. In April, HTC announced it would pay royalties to Microsoft in exchange for use of "patented technology" in its Android devices. Later in the year, Microsoft filed an intellectual-property lawsuit against Motorola, alleging the manufacturer's 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, 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."

Microsoft's push into that Android-related area, of course, came as the company was ramping up to the release of Windows Phone 7, the revamp of its smartphone operating-system franchise and a direct competitor to both Android and the Apple iPhone. In theory, a cut of royalties from Android smartphones would profit Microsoft no matter which direction the mobile market takes. The fact that manufacturers such as HTC also build Windows Phone 7 devices, however, probably turns any legal discussions into a complex dance.

For its part, Microsoft seems to regard its lawsuit action as a consequence of a rapidly evolving industry.

"It is not surprising that at a time when there is an explosion of innovation in the technology industry-particularly in the rapidly evolving hand-held-devices space-there would be a frenzy of activity in both patent-related litigation as well as licensing," Microsoft's Gutierrez opined in a Dec. 17 statement e-mailed to eWEEK. "This is consistent with the pattern that has taken place in the past when new products resulting from technological convergence have entered the market and companies take steps to protect their inventions."

And there's more to come, Gutierrez wrote: "We expect 2011 to be an eventful year in the patent space and we are looking forward to it."


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.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel