Motorola is apparently willing to consider the merits of Microsoft’s Windows Phone, despite the well-publicized patent issues between the two companies.
“I would have to consider whether defocusing from Android to Windows will be the right thing for us to do,” Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha said during a speech at the Oppenheimer Technology & Communications Conference in Boston, according to the Inquirer, “but if the capabilities on Windows are such that [it] is the right thing for us, I think we will consider it.”
That willingness might come as a surprise to anyone following the patent wars currently gripping the tech industry, where for the past year Microsoft and Motorola have been more than happy to fire intellectual-property lawsuits against one another. Microsoft launched its first salvo in October 2010, alleging that Motorola’s Android smartphones violated nine 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, said at the time.
Motorola shot back with a legal broadside alleging infringement of 16 patents by Microsoft’s PC and Server software, Windows mobile software, and Xbox products. The case is still winding its way through the system.
Even as Microsoft began to lock horns with Motorola, it pursued a stark strategy with manufacturers of Android devices such as smartphones and tablets: pay royalties, or face a patent-infringement lawsuit. Some companies have chosen to take Option A. In April 2010, HTC announced that it had agreed to pay Microsoft in exchange for the use of “patented technology” in its Android-powered smartphones. In the wake of that, Microsoft entered into similar agreements with a host of smaller startups that produce Android devices.
But other companies, including Motorola, have decided to fight back. Barnes & Noble, whose Nook e-reader uses Android, filed a countersuit against Microsoft after the latter sued it for patent infringement.
The bookseller’s counterclaim, filed April 25 with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle, described Microsoft as repeatedly arguing that its patent portfolio would “entirely preclude the use of Android Operating System by the Nook,” and mentions that both HTC and Amazon have entered into patent-licensing deals with Redmond.
Yet despite those ongoing patent issues, and its clear reliance on Android as part of its business model, Motorola seems willing to at least consider Windows Phone.