[Follow-up: Microsoft says Google declined an invitation to bid together on Novell patents.]
Google is fighting back publicly against what it calls “a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.”
Those are the words of David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, in a post today on the Official Google Blog. As evidence of the organized campaign, Drummond points to Microsoft’s lawsuits against Barnes & Noble and other Android device makers; as well as Apple, Microsoft and others teaming up to acquire the patent portfolio of bankrupt Nortel Networks — which has reportedly sparked a U.S. Justice Department investigation.
The goal, Drummond writes, is to use the patents to impose a tax (in the form of a patent licensing fees) that makes Android devices more expensive, for example. Microsoft is reportedly getting $5 on every Android device sold by HTC, through a patent licensing deal, and seeking more in its talks with other Android handset makers.
“Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it,” Drummond writes, describing the tactics as anticompetitive.
We’re not naive; technology is a tough and ever-changing industry and we work very hard to stay focused on our own business and make better products. But in this instance we thought it was important to speak out and make it clear that we’re determined to preserve Android as a competitive choice for consumers, by stopping those who are trying to strangle it.
We’ve asked Microsoft for comment, and we’ll update this post depending on the response.
Technology patents were put into a national spotlight recently through a This American Life investigation into Intellectual Ventures, the patent licensing firm and invention house run by Nathan Myhrvold, the former Microsoft technology chief.