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Legal Technology: Microsoft Sues Motorola over Patent Infringement by non-US Made Phones

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August 29, 2011

Microsoft Sues Motorola over Patent Infringement by non-US Made Phones

By Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor

Excuse me if Hurricane Irene induced cabin fever has made me cranky. However, I did get a perverse chuckle over a PCWorld item that popped up while I was hunkered down August 28 that started with, “Microsoft has joined the technology litigation party and launched a suit to prevent the sale of Motorola mobile phones in the U.S.”

No offense, but it is hardly the case that they are just jumping into the patent war pool for the first time.  Just for grins I put into Google (News - Alert) the following term, “Microsoft Sues Google.” Here are the top five on the first page:

  1. Microsoft sues Google for 'search biasing' - Technology - GMA News ... › Infotech - Cached. Apr 5, 2011 – In an ironic twist of fate, dominant software maker Microsoft is accusing Internet giant Google of biasing search results on its Internet search ...
  2. Microsoft sues Google (again), this time via Barnes & Noble's Nook - Cached. Mar 21, 2011 – Microsoft is once again filing suit against Google's Android mobile operating system, this time through Barnes & Noble's Nook eReader. ...
  3. Microsoft sues Google before EU body for unfair competition | ... - Cached. Mar 31, 2011 – Microsoft sues Google before EU body for unfair competition. ... Microsoft Corp. on Thursday filed an antitrust suit before the European Union's ...
  4. Microsoft sues Google Android indirectly – a conspiracy to flip - Cached. Mar 22, 2011 – Microsoft sues Google Android indirectly – a conspiracy to flip support?
  5. Microsoft sues Google, files antitrust lawsuit | The Money Times. - Cached. Microsoft sues Google, files antitrust lawsuit. by Yasser Ali - April 1, 2011 - 0 comments Bookmark and Share. In its complaint against Google, the ...Similar - Add to iGoogleSimilar

There are plenty more. In fact, this is not even the first time Microsoft is suing Motorola and not even the first time it involved Android related issues. In other words, not only is Microsoft not a stranger to such actions, it seems to enjoy suing Motorola and Google who are soon to be one -- regulatory weather permitting.

What the good folks in Seattle are up to this time

I will be brief. Microsoft’s latest move is to ban a number of Motorola phones in the United States which Microsoft claims infringe upon seven patents. These include ways to synchronize calendars and contacts as well as notifying applications of changes to signal strength. Some of the handsets that are covered in the litigation include the Droid 2, Droid X, Cliq XT, Devour, Backflip, and Charm.

Microsoft feels the International Trade Commission will rule in its favor, enabling it to enforce similar actions outside of the U.S.

This is all getting way too complicated. Here is just a sample:

  • Microsoft is suing Motorola which will soon be owned by Google, which Microsoft is also suing.
  • Microsoft has already won a suit against HTC and its Android phones.
  • HTC has filed a major patent infringement case against Apple.
  • Apple, in turn, is suing Samsung (News - Alert) and has filed multiple lawsuits against HTC.
  • Google and Oracle are in a war over possible Andorid infringement of Java.

At this point, there is not a major mobile device manufacturer who is not engaged in a legal tussle. The same can probably said for any entity with display, OS, synchronization or a host of other capabilities —one of the reasons Kodak (News - Alert) is being eyed for its camera and visualization patents.

Who knew two months ago when I started with that a legal degree would be almost as valuable as the 30+ years of industry experience I have accumulated. What a shame.

As I have stated on more than one occasion --though it’s certainly not an original thought -- billions of dollars diverted to divide up the spoils between multi-billion dollar companies is, in a word, a DISGRACE.  It is time for the Congress of the U.S. to get on with the business of reconciling the two similar version of patent reform. And, more importantly, it is time for the business people to get back to the business of innovation and real competition. Enough already!  

Goodnight Irene.

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Peter Bernstein is a technology industry veteran, having worked in multiple capacities with several of the industry's biggest brands, including Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent, Telcordia (News - Alert), HP, Siemens, Nortel, France Telecom, and others, and having served on the Advisory Boards of 15 technology startups. To read more of Peter's work, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves



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