The patent wars between mobile technology providers got personal on Wednesday when Google’s (News - Alert) Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond, publicly ripped Apple (News - Alert), Microsoft and Oracle for banding together and participating in “a hostile, organized campaign against Android.”
In a post on the company’s official blog, Drummond suggested that its competitors – which are normally “at each other’s throats” – decided to come together and purchase a war chest of “bogus” patents from Nortel and Novell (News - Alert) for the sole purpose of making it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android.
“Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it,” he wrote. “Instead of competing by building new features or devices, they are fighting through litigation.”
Drummond called the strategy “anti-competitive,” and said that the consortium that won the Nortel (News - Alert) patents at auction overpaid drastically. He wrapped up the rant by reaffirming Google’s commitment to preserving Android by doing whatever it takes to stop those who are attempting to “strangle” it.
This strategy will involve strengthening Google’s own patent portfolio and crossing their fingers and hoping that the Department of Justice imposes restrictions on the owners of the Nortel patents, similarly to what it did following the Novell deal.
So that’s where it ended, right? Not even close.
Microsoft (News - Alert) fired back on Wednesday with an interesting fact: It asked Google to join the consortium of bidders on the Novell deal and Google declined.
“Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s General Counsel, tweeted as a retort.
Don’t believe him? Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s Head of Communications, followed up Smith’s comment with a tweet of his own that contained the proof.
“Free advice for David Drummond – next time check with [fellow General Counsel] Kent Walker before you blog,” the tweet read.
Shaw’s message contained a picture of an email allegedly sent from Walker to Smith on October 28, 2010, in which Google politely declined Microsoft’s offer to get in bed with them on the Novell deal.
Boom. Although the patent wars are getting a bit ridiculous, Drummond’s post came off as a bit of sour grapes from the start. The fact that Google actually passed on the Novell deal makes the argument even more ludicrous.
Stay tuned for round 3. This is getting good.
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Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell