Google vs Microsoft: The Patent Wars


Yesterday on Google‘s official blog, aptly called the Google Blog, David Drummond, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer released a scathing blog about how there is a concerted effort on the part of Google’s competitors to wage a very hostile and organized campaign to stop Android, Google’s mobile platform. And with stats like this: Nearly 40% of the “all important” US market share and nearly 50% of the market share worldwide and 550,000 daily activations through a network of 39 manufacturers and 231 carriers, its really no wonder that the competition is pulling out all the tricks to keep Android down.

David Drummond states on his blog post entitled When Patents Attack Android, about how tech companies Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and others conspired to keep the Novell patents(under the group name CPTN) and the Nortel patents(under the group name Rockstar)away from Google. These same companies are currently suing Google and Android handset manufacturers over some dubious patents.  Drummond states Google needs these patents to defend itself from these patent trolls companies looking to sue Google. The entire blog can be read at the link above.

Microsoft, however, has released a statement today stating that Google had been invited to join this consortium to purchase the patents but declined to join. Here are Microsofts responses:

The first came from Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith, who tweeted: “Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no.”

Then came this from Microsoft head of communications Frank Shaw, who posted an image of an e-mail conversation between Smith and Kent Walker, SVP and general counsel at Google. It reads:

Brad –

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you —I came down with a 24-hour bug on the way back from San Antonio. After talking with people here, it sounds as though for various reasons a joint bid wouldn’t be advisable for us on this one. But I appreciate your flagging it, and we’re open to discussing other similar opportunities in the future.

I hope the rest of your travels go well, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

– Kent

Google, of course, via David Drummond quickly responded:

UPDATE August 4, 2011 – 12:25pm PT

It’s not surprising that Microsoft would want to divert attention by pushing a false “gotcha!” while failing to address the substance of the issues we raised. If you think about it, it’s obvious why we turned down Microsoft’s offer. Microsoft’s objective has been to keep from Google and Android device-makers any patents that might be used to defend against their attacks. A joint acquisition of the Novell patents that gave all parties a license would have eliminated any protection these patents could offer to Android against attacks from Microsoft and its bidding partners. Making sure that we would be unable to assert these patents to defend Android —and having us pay for the privilege —must have seemed like an ingenious strategy to them. We didn’t fall for it.

Ultimately, the U.S. Department of Justice intervened, forcing Microsoft to sell the patents it bought and demanding that the winning group (Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, EMC) give a license to the open-source community, changes the DoJ said were “necessary to protect competition and innovation in the open source software community.” This only reaffirms our point: Our competitors are waging a patent war on Android and working together to keep us from getting patents that would help balance the scales.

While we’re patiently waiting for the next chapter in the Patent Wars, I have to say, probably to the detriment of the numerous Microsoft and Apple fanboy sites that masquerade as tech/news sites, that Mr. Drummond and Google have a point. Apple, and especially, Microsoft are failing to stop Android’s momentum. It’s getting painfully obvious that they cannot compete through product or innovation, so they have to compete through litigation. It’s also suspious that Microsoft and Apple, who’ve  never joined together on anything, joined together in collusion against Google. It’s suspicious, yet again, that Oracle waited years before bringing any lawsuit against Android, and in fact, was happy about the fact that Android contained some code of linux(which Oracle owns)in the beginning. I wonder what could have changed their minds? Perhaps its the fact that the heads of Microsoft and Oracle are good friends? Hmmm… But that, my friends, is for another post. 

About The Author

Kamil M Abdullah has been a self proclaimed techie and bonafide smart phone expert nearly half of his life. Starting with the very first Sidekick(not necessarily a smart phone but close enough) to Blackberry to Symbian to Windows(Mobile & Phone 7) to Web OS to Android, he has used virtually every smart phone operating system. Kamil has also worked with computer programming in Bloomberg's Data Center and Backup Operations on their proprietary software. In his quest for further knowledge in mobile operating systems, Kamil voraciously devours any reading material on the subject he can find. Kamil is also a hip hop head to the fullest, having fallen in love with the art form from the very first "a hip hop the hibby to the hibby the hip hip the hop" and tr808 beat. He promises to use his vast powers and knowledge only for the good of mankind.