Great, Now Microsoft is Suing Motorola

By  |  Friday, October 1, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Microsoft has announced that it’s suing Motorola for making Android phones that violate Microsoft patents. I’ve lost track of all the phone-related suits out there, but off the top of my head: Apple is suing Nokia, Nokia is suing Apple. Apple is suing HTC, HTC is suing Apple. and Oracle is suing Google. Oh, and Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen is suing…well, pretty much everyone except Microsoft, but I’m not sure if any of the patents in question relate to phones.

Microsoft VP Horacio Gutierrez has a blog post up in which he says:

Our action today merely seeks to ensure respect for our intellectual property rights infringed by Android devices; and judging by the recent actions by Apple and Oracle, we are not alone in this respect.

I dunno–I’m in favor of intellectual property, but I’d like someone (ideally someone who isn’t in the process of suing anyone else) to explain how the current patent system and its impact on the technology industry helps the industry, consumers, or the country. Is it possible to root against everyone involved?

Also, can someone explain to me how this suit will help Microsoft become relevant again in the phone business, or why it’s a better investment of time and money than pouring as much effort as possible into Windows Phone 7?

 
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7 Comments For This Post

  1. John Baxter Says:

    I don't know about the other claims, but how did Microsoft manage to patent 'single name space for long and short filenames' when Unix, Apple, and many others did that long before Microsoft broke away from 8.3 names? (I think that claim will go away.)

  2. JohnFen Says:

    “can someone explain to me how this suit will help Microsoft become relevant again in the phone business, or why it’s a better investment of time and money than pouring as much effort as possible into Windows Phone 7?”

    It won’t help them become more relevant, of course. What it does is to try and ensure they get an unearned slice of everybody else’s pie, thus setting up a revenue stream in the space. Relevance is not necessary.

    This may be a better investment than WinPhone7, if they’re really sure that WinPhone7 isn’t going to take off anyway.

  3. David Says:

    Strictly speaking, the Win phone 7 developers are not in court, so it isn't like MS can't write software and sue at the same time.

  4. Richard Brodie Says:

    So after being sued by everyone else in the world for 15 years or so, Microsoft finally joins the ranks of companies suing over their software patents, and you blame Microsoft?

  5. petrock Says:

    You say you are in favor of "intellectual property". This term is vague and therefore meaningless. What is it you are in favor of? In this case, we are dealing with software patents. Are you in favor of software patents? If so, could you explain why?

  6. Mike Cerm Says:

    The aggregate effects of Microsoft (and Oracle, Apple, and others) suing Android handset makers (and Google directly) will be to turn Android from something "free" into something with substantial licensing costs. Ultimately, the cost for a handset maker to bring an Android handset to market could end up being the same or higher than a Windows Phone 7 handset.

    Even if ALL of the suits can be somehow settled, and licensing fees negotiated, Android will still more difficult to implement. Microsoft is probably banking on the fact that some of the handset makers would rather write a single check (for a WP7 license) than deal with paying royalties to each of the Android litigants, while still remaining open to further lawsuits down the road. (Nokia and Palm haven't brought suits yet, and they've probably got a few patents that are being infringed by Android.)

  7. JohnFen Says:

    @Mike Cerm:

    I disagree. First, Android isn’t intended to be “free” in the monetary sense (and isn’t really “free” in the freedom sense, either, but is closer to it than the alternatives.)

    But even if everyone manages to get a piece of it in terms of royalties, it is likely that handset makers will still only have to write a single check and be protected from lawsuits. It will follow the standard model for this type of situation: a single industry-wide holding group will handle the various royalties. Makers will write a single check to them, they will divvy it up to the various patent-holders. It’ll be the same as WP7, except the middleman won’t be Microsoft. This is how such things have always been handled (witness Blu-Ray, music royalties, etc.)