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Apple, Microsoft are patent bullies: Google [Telecom] [Times of India]
[August 06, 2011]

Apple, Microsoft are patent bullies: Google [Telecom] [Times of India]

(Times of India Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) NEW DELHI: Google on Thursday said Microsoft, Apple and Oracle have joined hands and are trying to kill Android operating software through litigation.

"Microsoft and Apple have always been at each other's throats, so when they get into bed together you have to start wondering what's going on," David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, wrote at the company's official blog. "Android is on fire. More than 550,000 Android devices are activated every day... But Android's success has yielded something else: a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents." Recently, when Google tried to purchase patents from Nortel, a Canadian firm, to strengthen its portfolio, Microsoft and Apple, along with four other companies, formed a group and outbid the search engine giant by paying $4.5 billion for Nortel's patents.

"A smartphone might involve as many as 250,000 (largely questionable) patent claims, and our competitors want to impose a 'tax' for these dubious patents that makes Android devices more expensive for consumers. They want to make it harder for manufacturers to sell Android devices," wrote Drummond.

There are reports that Department of Justice, which can investigate anti-competitive practices by companies in the US, was taking a close look at the manner in which Nortel patents were bought.

With personal technology undergoing a massive shift, various companies are trying to carve out lead position. Amidst heightened competition, they are increasingly resorting to litigation. Apple is currently embroiled in bitter legal wrangle with HTC and Samsung, two leading Android phone makers. The Cupertino-based company was also involved in a patent case with Nokia before June this year when the two companies reached an agreement.

Recently, International Trade Commission in the US said in an initial ruling that HTC infringes on two patents held by Apple. The ruling has to be approved by a six-member commission before it can be enforced.

Microsoft, meanwhile, as part of an agreement with HTC, takes $5 from the Taiwanese company for every Android phone that company sells. It has now reportedly asked Samsung to pay $15 for each Android phone manufactured by it or risk a patent suit.

Oracle and Google are already slugging it out in the court. Oracle, which bought Sun in 2009 and consequently acquired several patents related to Java, claims that Android violates some of these patents.

"Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it," wrote Drummond. "We're not naive... we're determined to preserve Android as a competitive choice for consumers, by stopping those who are trying to strangle it." Drummond added that Google will fight back by "strengthening our own patent portfolio". The company, after failing to buy nearly 6000 Nortel patents, recently bought over 1000 patents from IBM.

Update: Microsoft's General Counsel Brad Smith has disputed Drummond's version on the Novell patent issue on Twitter. Smith tweeted in response to the blog, "Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no." (c) 2011 Bennett, Coleman & Company Limited

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