Microsoft, Motorola Willing to Work Together, Despite Lawsuit

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha have both suggested they're open to collaboration, despite Microsoft's patent lawsuit against Motorola.

Microsoft may have filed an intellectual-property lawsuit against Motorola, alleging the manufacturer's Google Android smartphones violate nine of its patents, but the two companies seem determined not to burn their bridges with each other.

"I am open to finding ways to work with Microsoft," Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha reportedly told The Wall Street Journal Oct. 6. "But it has to be a compelling offering." He also seemed somewhat blas??« about Microsoft's lawsuit: "I would much rather have done without that lawsuit, but it doesn't always work out that way."

Jha is quoted as saying that Motorola will "consider all of our options" with regard to Microsoft, and that lawsuits within the wireless industry are inevitable: "There's a wholesale sorting out of everyone's position in the space ... We believe that we have patent portfolios that cover a broad range of stuff. We will just let those play out."

For his part, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer also reportedly told a European press conference Oct. 6 that "we are always [excited] to collaborate with anybody who wants to collaborate with us." He was responding to a question about whether Microsoft would work with Motorola on Windows Phone 7 devices, despite the lawsuit.

Over the past few months, Microsoft has become more aggressive with manufacturers about its intellectual property as it relates 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. But Motorola seems ready to fight the issue in court.

"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."

Microsoft will launch Windows Phone 7 in a New York City event Oct. 11. The platform will have to compete not only against the Apple iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry franchise, but also the growing tribe of Android smartphones. If Microsoft can leverage manufacturers into paying it royalties on those Android devices, though, it stands to make money no matter how the mobile market shifts over the next several quarters.