Microsoft files EU complaint vs. Motorola, takes Google to task on standards and patents

Updated with Google’s statement below.

Microsoft has filed a formal competition complaint against Motorola Mobility in Europe, saying that Motorola is seeking unreasonable royalties for patents needed to implement WiFi and web video standards in Windows PCs, Xbox 360 consoles and other products.

The Redmond company is also taking aim at Motorola’s soon-to-be parent, Google, for stopping short of promising that it won’t seek injunctions against products that use such “standard essential” patents.

[Update: Microsoft says it also named Google as a defendant in its complaint.]

Microsoft’s complaint with the European Commission follows a similar action by Apple, disclosed by Motorola Mobility in a recent regulatory filing.

In a blog post this morning titled “Google: Please Don’t Kill Video on the Web,” Microsoft deputy general counsel Dave Heiner says Motorola’s royalty demands for 50 patents related to the H.264 video standard would translate into $22.50 for a $1,000 laptop. By comparison, royalties on the other 2,300 patents needed to implement the standard would cost 2 cents, he says.

Isn’t Microsoft trying to do the same thing — using its own patents to get royalties on Android devices? It’s a different situation, Heiner asserts.

“Google says that it is just trying to protect manufacturers of Android devices against patent actions by Microsoft and others. But there are big differences between Google’s approach and Microsoft’s. Microsoft is not seeking to block Android manufacturers from shipping products on the basis of standard essential patents. Rather, Microsoft is focused on infringement of patents that it has not contributed to any industry standard. And Microsoft is making its patents—standard essential and otherwise—available to all Android manufacturers on fair and reasonable terms. In fact, more than 70 percent of Android devices are now licensed to use Microsoft’s patent portfolio.”

It’s the latest in a series of recent public disputes between the companies.

Update, 9:15 a.m.: A Google representative says in a statement: We haven’t seen Microsoft’s complaint, but it’s consistent with the way they use the regulatory process to attack competitors. It’s particularly ironic, given their track record in this area and collaboration with patent trolls.”

  • http://WiredPen.com/ kegill

    They (GOOG and MSFT) remind me of 5-year old boys duking it out in kindergarten recess. Neither company has the high road here.

    That said, monopolies — as well as legacy organizations under pressure from disruptive innovation — always reach for regulatory relief when they feel threatened. Unfortunately there are real economic principles (network effects, public good characteristics) that lead to monopolistic structures in a computer sector that has developed in a (mostly) laissez faire system.

    • Guest

      Surely you’re not suggesting that MS is being disrupted by the innovations of others? Because that’s what Dick Brass said several years ago and MS categorically denied. /s :-)

  • Guest

    If you can’t innovate, litigate. It’s what competitors who couldn’t compete with MS did back in the 90′s. And it’s what MS has been reduced to now.