Microsoft files EU complaint over Google, Motorola

BRUSSELS/NEW YORK Wed Feb 22, 2012 3:15pm EST

A variety of logos hover above the Microsoft booth on the opening day of the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 10, 2012. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A variety of logos hover above the Microsoft booth on the opening day of the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas January 10, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

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BRUSSELS/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp has asked EU antitrust regulators to intervene in a patent dispute with Google Inc and Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc as it stepped up its battle against Google.

Microsoft complained that Motorola Mobility was charging Microsoft too much for use of its patents in Microsoft products a week after the European Commission -- the EU's executive arm -- and the U.S. Justice Department approved Internet search leader Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of mobile phone-maker Motorola.

Google had pledged to license Motorola patents on fair and reasonable terms if the deal were allowed to go ahead in the week before EU approval for the deal, which is still being reviewed by China's regulators.

But Microsoft argued that "Motorola has refused to make its patents available at anything remotely close to a reasonable price" in a blog posted by its deputy general counsel Dave Heiner on Wednesday.

As a result Heiner said Microsoft had filed a formal competition law complaint against Motorola Mobility and Google.

"We have taken this step because Motorola is attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, our Xbox game console and other products," he said in the blog.

Heiner had initially named just Motorola Mobility in the blog post but in an update said the complaint also included Google.

Heiner said Motorola had filed lawsuits in the United States and in Europe demanding Microsoft take its products off the market, or else remove their standards-based ability to play video and connect wirelessly.

"Motorola is on a path to use standard essential patents to kill video on the Web, and Google, as its new owner, does not seem to be willing to change course," Heiner said.

Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for competition affairs at the EU Commission, said the regulator has received the complaint and will examine it.

Neither Motorola nor Google commented on the specific allegations. Motorola Mobility spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson said Motorola had not received a copy of the complaint but was "committed to vigorously defending its intellectual property."

Google dismissed the complaint as "just another example of their attempts to use the regulatory process to attack competitors." It did not give other examples in an emailed statement from a spokeswoman.

Apple Inc has also complained to the EU Commission about Motorola Mobility's patent charges, Motorola Mobility said in a regulatory filing last week.

EXCESSIVE CHARGES?

Microsoft said that Motorola asked it to pay a royalty of $22.50 for a laptop computer worth $1,000 for its use of 50 Motorola patents that apply to a video technology standard.

This compares with a 2 cent royalty charged by a group of 29 companies that offer the use of more than 2,300 patents for products following the same video standard, according to Microsoft.

Motorola Mobility makes cellphones and television set-top boxes and does not compete in the market for game consoles and computer operating systems.

The Microsoft complaint follows a Cisco Systems Inc appeal of the EU approval of Microsoft's own purchase of Internet communications provider Skype.

EU regulators are also investigating whether Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has infringed EU antitrust rules in its patent disputes with Apple in courts across Europe.

This was Microsoft's second complaint with EU antitrust regulators involving Google. Last March, it accused the company of systematically thwarting rivals.

Microsoft was the target of antitrust action for two decades in Europe and the United States. EU regulators imposed fines of more than a billion euros on the company for breaching EU antitrust rules.

(Editing by Charlie Dunmore, David Cowell and Gerald E. McCormick)

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Comments (2)
Geek_News wrote:
This is getting old, its playing out like nothing more than a bunch of little spoiled rotten kids arguing on the playground. The sad part is that Motorola, and now Google, are getting shafted because the “Standard-setting organizations” decided that their tech should be adopted as a standards where as most of what MS and Apple sue to block companies over are not.

At some point this all need to come to a head and some serious changes need to be made to fix this broken system.

Feb 22, 2012 3:29pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Poquitoloco wrote:
If you have a patent on something, you should be able to get what you can for it. Period. This should be a pure market result. Whether you get $0.02 or $20.00 should be up to the market. This would actually drive competition, causing companies to try to innovate around the patent in question.
Enter the main problem: the wholesale granting of patents/copyrights on virtually anything applied for, uniqueness not being one of the requirements. Hence, the litigation hell we currently see in the high-tech world has no end in sight. Reform, therefore, is needed.
The hypocrisy of these companies chasing their tails is so amusing, though I realize that I, as a consumer, am paying for it.

Feb 22, 2012 8:31pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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