Editor in Chief
- Jan 5, 2011
Here's a potential case of pure hypocrisy. Microsoft is now backing up Apple's stance, and is taking things a step further by filing an anti-trust lawsuit against Motorola Mobility in the EU. MS and Apple claim that Moto is "abusing its standard-essential patents, impeding fair access to patents that are fundamental to regular device function -- this time dealing with video streaming and wireless connectivity." Microsoft further elaborated that they have a problem with Motorola's current patent pricing scheme. Microsoft claims that Motorola is setting an impossibly high royalty of $22.50 for a $1,000 laptop, which only covers fees for H.264 licensing. Here's a quote from the Engadget article with some more details,
Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Dave Heiner has posted an appeal to the company's TechNet blog, outlining the issue and explaining that "Motorola is attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, our Xbox game console and other products," further claiming that "Motorola is on a path to use standard essential patents to kill video on the Web, and Google as its new owner doesn't seem to be willing to change course."
This is all coming from the company, mind you, that has been charging just about every Android OEM on the planet for its own patent licensing issues. However, just for the sake of fairness and clarity, we should definitely mention the flip side to this argument. While Microsoft's actions do smack of hypocrisy, it isn't to the degree that one might initially think. In fact, MS might actually have a legitimate complaint this time. Apparently, the patents for which Motorola is asking high royalties for are "fair-use standard-essential patents". These are fairly common patents, that are not anything very innovative, and typically other companies would be asking a much smaller amount for.
It definitely appears as though Motorola is using these patents to be "spiteful" against Microsoft for all of the patent licensing fees that have been extorted from them and other Android manufacturers in the past. Technically, it really is a possibility that these patents are being abused under the FRAND standard. FRAND stands for "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms" licensing, and it was established to stop patent holders from unfairly abusing their patents to hinder market competition. (Hmmm... that sounds like Apple doesn't it?) At any rate, it is entirely possible that Motorola doesn't really plan on getting these exorbitant licensing fees from Microsoft, but is really just using their situation as leverage to force MS into working out some different deals of their own. Of course, this could back-fire on them, and several different folks in the industry are unhappy with Motorola, and by extension Google... Motorola for taking this aggressive stance, and Google for not getting them to back down during the buyout process.
Regardless, even if it turns out that Motorola is being unfair in this new patent warfare battle, it still seems like the "pot calling the kettle black".