Microsoft sues Motorola over Android phones

SEATTLE Fri Oct 1, 2010 6:48pm EDT

Signage for Motorola is displayed outside their office building in Tempe, Arizona October 29, 2009. REUTERS/Joshua Lott

Signage for Motorola is displayed outside their office building in Tempe, Arizona October 29, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Joshua Lott

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SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp sued Motorola Inc, alleging patent infringement on the handset maker's line of Android phones, in the latest development in a web of legal actions in the evolving smartphone business.

Microsoft, the world's largest software company, charged that former ally Motorola infringed nine of its patents in the Android-based smartphones, which run on software built by Google Inc.

Microsoft makes its own Windows phone software, which it charges handset makers to use in their phones. Motorola, like some rivals, has shifted toward Google's free Android as a more attractive option, straining the relationship between the two companies.

The suits come 10 days before Microsoft launches the new version of its mobile software, which it hopes will win back market share from Apple Inc's iPhone and Google.

The patents in question relate to synchronizing e-mail, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power, Microsoft said in a statement.

A Motorola spokeswoman said the company has not yet received a copy of the suit, but based on its strong intellectual property portfolio, plans to "vigorously defend itself."

Google said it was disappointed in Microsoft's move, which it claimed would threaten innovation in the sector. "While we are not a party to this lawsuit, we stand behind the Android platform and the partners who have helped us to develop it," the company said in an e-mailed statement.

The suit is the latest in a complicated series of legal actions between various phone makers and software firms over who owns patents to the technology used in smartphones, kicked off by Nokia suing Apple last year, and Apple subsequently suing handset maker HTC Corp. Oracle Corp has also sued Google over Android software.

"Our action today merely seeks to ensure respect for our intellectual property rights infringed by Android devices," said Horacio Gutierrez, deputy general counsel in charge of Microsoft's intellectual property, in a blog post on the company's website. "Judging by the recent actions by Apple and Oracle, we are not alone in this respect."

Microsoft said it filed its actions against Motorola at the International Trade Commission and in federal court in Seattle.

The case is 2:10-cv-01577 Microsoft Corporation v. Motorola Inc, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington.

(Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Robert MacMillan, Gerald E. McCormick, Richard Chang and Gunna Dickson)

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Comments (19)
gregd548 wrote:
One more reason to divest myself of all Microsoft products. Soon will be an all Apple & Android family.

Oct 01, 2010 5:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
manstrato wrote:
I am a design engineer who has been involved in the patent process many times. It seems to me that the attitude of “uniqueness that once surrounded patentable ideas has been lost. Today a company calls the idea of writing code to notify the user that they are running low on battery power a patentable idea. Though there is no perfect analogy to the good old days of Thomas Edison, because they didn’t have computers, I don’t think that a patent inspector of that day would have agreed that these were ideas worthy of patent protection.

There is a concept in patent law that requires the utility, uniqueness and lack of obviousness of an idea be considered before a patent is issued, but it seems today that nothing is considered obvious, and virtually anything is considered unique and useful. At some point Microsoft, Apple, Sun Microsystems, etc. are going to have to realize that running down to the patent office every time someone has some totally obvious idea (like, how about we let people move their contacts, emails and appointments, to/from their computer and mobile phone) that doesn’t mean it deserves a patent. Much of what I see patented today are ideas that a host of people already have thought of, but didn’t think to patent because they just thought it was obvious.

Oct 01, 2010 5:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Trooth wrote:
@gregd548
Apple is 10 times worse about suing everyone than Microsoft. Look up Apple lawsuits and you will see Apple loves to sue for patent infringement, but has yet to pay up to other companies for using other’s technology. They are one of the worst companies for not working well with others, and gouging their consumers.

Oct 01, 2010 6:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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