With too much at stake when it comes to smartphones (the high-margin game), it is not surprising for Microsoft to sue Motorola for patent infringement. The Seattle, Washington based software giant claims that Motorola’s Android-based smartphones infringe upon its patents.
“Microsoft filed an action today in the International Trade Commission and in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against Motorola, Inc. for infringement of nine Microsoft patents by Motorola’s Android-based smartphones. The patents at issue relate to a range of functionality embodied in Motorola’s Android smartphone devices that are essential to the smartphone user experience, including synchronizing email, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power.”
We doubt if Microsoft managed to rattle any cages in Chicago, Illinois, where Motorola is head quartered. Remember, Microsoft cut a deal with HTC, which makes smartphones running on both Android and Windows Phone operating systems, to share IP and help HTC stand against Apple, which had sued it for patent infringements. Motorola, on the other hand, is devoted to Android alone (at least for the time being) and hence, is a potential threat to Microsoft. Smartphones from HTC, LG and Samsung, running on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 devices are expected to be launched later this month.
This is also Microsoft’s ploy to warn others that using an open source operating system will make them vulnerable to such IP-related lawsuits. Unlike Google, Microsoft licenses Windows Phone 7 operating system to manufacturers which frees them from getting hassled with these lawsuits.
Just when we thought Android was on a roll, a bottleneck appears down the road. Oracle has sued Google as it believes that its Android operating system infringes upon seven Java-related patents. In January this year, Oracle bought Sun Microsystem, which developed the Java platform. Java is one of the most popular software platforms for writing applications and has attracted more than 6.5 million developers.
According to the complaint, Oracle claims “The Android operating
system software “stack” consists of Java applications running on a Java-based object-oriented application framework, and core libraries running on a “Dalvik” virtual machine (VM) that features just-in-time (JIT) compilation. Google actively distributes Android (including without limitation the Dalvik VM and the Android software development kit) and promotes its use by manufacturers of products and applications.
On information and belief, Google has purposefully, actively, and voluntarily distributed Android and related applications, devices, platforms, and services with the expectation that they will be purchased, used, or licensed by consumer…”
HTC today filed a complaint against Apple with the United States International Trade Commission to halt the import of Apple iPhone and iPad, claiming that the products infringed on HTC’s patents. While HTC did not mention which patents the products infringe, but the action comes weeks after Apple sued HTC for patent infringement. With the industry in such turmoil, the next couple of years are going to be action packed as we believe that many of these patent infringement cases are likely to be settled out of court – some involving exchange of money while others getting resolved by cross-patent licensing agreements. But if things keep going on the way they are, most smartphones will start looking and behaving the same. So much for innovation and competition.
Last week, Nokia sued Apple yet again, alleging that Apple’s iPhone and iPad 3G infringe on five of Nokia’s patents. While it has been an ongoing process with both companies suing each other over patent infringement. However, this time it is interesting to note that one of the patents in question is related to “innovations in antenna configurations that improve performance and save space, allowing smaller and more compact devices.” While we did not cover the next generation iPhone leak story due to ethical reasons, one of the things that its tear down revealed was that Apple had reduced the footprint of internal circuitry to house a bigger battery inside. Did Nokia just included a patent that Apple might infringe upon in a product that it has not yet launched?
This is one puzzling news release to come out from Microsoft. The software giant has signed a patent agreement with HTC, under which HTC will pay royalties to Microsoft for its portfolio of Android phones. The release does not mention what fuctions these patents relate to but we have a sneaking suspicion that this agreement would somehow help HTC to take on Apple in the patent infringement lawsuit the Cupertino-based company has filed against the Taiwanese smartphone manufacturer.
The patent wars continue. After Nokia and Apple suing and counter-suing each other, it is now HTC’s turn to face the heat with Apple suing the Taiwan-based smartphone manufacturer for infringing 20 patents “related to the iPhoneâ€™s user interface, underlying architecture and hardware. The lawsuit was filed concurrently with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and in U.S. District Court in Delaware.”
â€œWe can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. Weâ€™ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO in a press release.
The press release goes on… Apple reinvented the mobile phone in 2007 with its revolutionary iPhoneÂ®, and did it again in 2008 with its pioneering App Store, which now offers more than 150,000 mobile applications in over 90 countries. Over 40 million iPhones have been sold worldwide.
TechCrunch got hold of the actual complaint and claims that the complaint is more about Android than HTC. It’s surprising that Apple did not name Google as one of the defendants. Well, could it be because of the ‘good relations’ that Google maintains it has with Apple? Who knows…
After Nokia sued Apple for alleged patent infringement and getting counter-sued by Apple, it is now Motorola’s turn. The US-based handset vendor, which is attempting one of the bravest turn-around ever in the industry, has filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission against RIM, alleging that the manufacturer of BlackBerry handhelds infringes on five of Motorola’s patents.
The patents in question are related to Wi-Fi access, application management, user interface and power management and Motorola claims in a press release that “RIM’s continued unlicensed use of Motorola’s patents, RIM’s use of delay tactics in our current patent litigation, and RIM’s refusal to design out Motorola’s proprietary technology, Motorola had no choice but to file a complaint with the ITC to halt RIM’s continued infringement.”
This is going to be yet another long drawn battle, which might or might not result in RIM having to pony up several million dollars in an out-of-court settlement. But we have a few years on our hands to report that story.