Motorola Countersues Microsoft as Patent Fight Escalates
Motorola Mobility is countersuing Microsoft in the tech industry's latest patent dispute. Motorola filed complaints against the software giant in the U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of Florida and the Western District of Wisconsin. The suits allege infringement of 16 patents by Microsoft's PC and server software, Windows Mobile, and Xbox products.
On the PC and server front, Motorola said Microsoft violated its patents with the Windows OS; digital video coding; e-mail technology, including Exchange, Messenger and Outlook; Windows Live instant messaging; and its object-oriented software architecture.
For Windows Mobile, Microsoft allegedly infringed on Motorola patents with its Windows Phone Marketplace and Bing maps. Finally, Motorola said, Microsoft also infringed on its patents with Xbox digital coding, Wi-Fi technology, and graphic passwords.
Motorola's Big Beef
Motorola Mobility asked the court to force Microsoft to stop using its patented technology and provide compensation for past infringements. Kirk Dailey, corporate vice president of intellectual property at Motorola Mobility, made it clear that Motorola is committed to protecting its interests and filed suit to that end.
"Motorola has invested billions of dollars in R&D to create a deep and broad intellectual-property portfolio, and we will continue to do what is necessary to protect our proprietary technology," Dailey said. "It is unfortunate that Microsoft has chosen the litigation path rather than entering into comprehensive licensing negotiations, as Motorola has mutually beneficial licensing relationships with the great majority of technology companies industrywide."
On Tuesday, Microsoft sued Motorola in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The software giant claimed Motorola sought unreasonable and discriminatory royalties for its technology. Microsoft also accused Motorola of breaching commitments made to standards bodies for "reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms and conditions" in patent licenses.
Once strategic partners in software, Microsoft also filed suit against Motorola on Oct. 1 because the company allegedly infringed on nine Microsoft patents with Android-based smartphones.
"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, including synchronizing e-mail, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power," said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of intellectual property and licensing at Microsoft.
Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, said the situation between Microsoft and Motorola is typical when two patent-heavy companies battle. Motorola is using what Enderle calls the "mutually assured destruction" defense.
"This suit does continue to showcase a weakness with Android because typically if this was a Microsoft licensee, Microsoft would indemnify against it. Google cannot," Enderle said. "Motorola can defend itself in these legal matters with a heavy patent portfolio. But it may be difficult for other companies."