These days it seems that Google and Microsoft, in one way or another, are almost constantly at war with one another. Adding to the drama, on Wednesday Microsoft lodged a formal complaint with the EU’s competition regulator against Motorola, which is soon to be part of Google.
The reason? According to Microsoft (and even Apple), Motorola has aggressively enforced it patents in ways that are highly anti-competitive. While Microsoft often brings lawsuits against its competitors in order to protect its copyrights, Microsoft and Apple both say that Motorola is overcharging for their patents. Unfortunately the patents in question are needed to cover technologies that are important to wireless streaming and Internet.
These technologies are needed in Windows PCs, the Xbox and many other products. Motorola is using its patents to kill off video on the web and Microsoft says Google doesn’t seem interested in changing this policy.
There have been past concerns even from the European Commission that Motorola’s aggressive patent enforcement might become a problem. Apparently the patent fees Motorola is asking for amounts to about 2.25% of the total cost of the products MS are trying to sell. Considering there are over 50 patents that Motorola has hold over in regard to video standards on the web, this could add up quickly.
Considering both Apple and Microsoft’s history of suing about everyone who crosses their path to protect their own copyrights, I’m sure there are many folks out there that might feel that MS and Apple are getting their just desserts.
I sometimes feel that companies are too eager to sue over patents that are largely minor and unimportant, but I also understand the need to protect your intellectual properties. For Motorola though? I really think they are taking things a little too far.
Copyright protection is about getting paid for your hard work and not letting others steal it without giving you some kind of royalty in return. When it becomes a control mechanism that can help enforce a form of patent bullying? Then its a real problem.
Personally, if I were in charge of Google, I’d want to show consumers and other companies out there that I disagree with Motorola’s current patent policy and affirm that it is going to loosen under Google.
There was a time that I didn’t quite care for Microsoft, but much of my negative views on the company have been lifted over the years (for the most part). Google on the other hand, I feel is slipping down a path that I’m not completely ecstatic about. Though I do like Android, despite some pretty big security flaws.
What do you think about Motorola’s patent policies? Do MS and Apple have a legitimate reason to be complaining? Should Google make certain that these policies change? Share your thoughts below.