Friday, June 01, 2012

Google Accuses Microsoft, Nokia Of Conspiring Against Android

Google has filed a complaint with the European Commission (EU), accusing Nokia and Microsoft of patent abuse against the Android platform. At the heart of the complaint is the accusation that both companies are using "patent trolls" or third party companies to bring lawsuits that stifle competition.

"Nokia and Microsoft are colluding to raise the costs of mobile devices for consumers, creating patent trolls that side-step promises both companies have made," a Google spokesman said in a statement. "They should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices."

The complaint isn't an actual lawsuit, but rather informational reports, sent to regulators in the EU that Google hopes will make them aware of actions that they believe are anti-competitive. Google submitted the documents to preempt Microsoft and Nokia from using proxies to wage patent wars against companies that might otherwise use Android.

According to reports by CNet Google's main concern is over patents being sold to third party "patent firms" which make money licensing patents and collecting royalties from other companies (ie patent tolls).

Nokia just sold 2,000 wireless patents and patent applications to a company called Mosaid. A Canadian patent firm that, makes its money by licensing patents and collecting royalties, sometimes via lawsuit. Google worries that the essential patents now held by Mosaid will be used as a tool to fight against Android, rather than being shared on reasonable terms.

Microsoft's response so far is: 

"Google is complaining about patents when it won't respond to growing concerns by regulators, elected officials and judges about its abuse of standard-essential patents, and it is complaining about antitrust in the smartphone industry when it controls more than 95 percent of mobile search and advertising," Microsoft said in a statement. "This seems like a desperate tactic on their part."

CNet says Mosaid is not the only company on Google's radar. Nokia sold 450 patents and patent applications to Sisvel in January. And Rockstar, a consortium that includes Microsoft and Apple, won 6,000 patents and patent applications from Nortel, the bankrupt Canadian telecom equipment maker, and received permission from regulators in March to close the deal.

Honest Opinions From Geek News

Personally I really think these patent wars are going to come to a head and there will be a breaking point. At some point either the companies involved have to come to an agreement or the regulating bodies have to force a compromise. Right now the market is lively and consumers are hungry, we have choices and we are content. If one company wins out and achieves a blockade over another then we might not be and we might see a need for some serious action.

I've said this before, though I'm sure I'll say it again, I don't recall patents being the hot topic they are today. I'm not sure if there was less actionable infringement or just less press? Either way, it would seem as we are keeping an eye open on the goings on with the patent wars more than ever. The worst part is in the end it is the consumer, the everyday Geek that looses out!

Further Reading:
Google alleges Microsoft, Nokia are abusing mobile patents in complaint filed in Europe
Google accuses Microsoft, Nokia of patent 'trolling'
Google Files Complaint in Europe Against Microsoft, Nokia

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