Google, Microsoft agree to end years-long patent war

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2015
Google and Microsoft have agreed to settle an ongoing patent feud concerning communications and video technology, bringing an end to about 20 lawsuits lodged in the U.S. and Germany, the companies said Wednesday.




While financial terms were were not disclosed, the companies released a joint statement confirming that a resolution was reached over a patent infringement struggle dating back to 2010, part of which stemmed from Google's former Motorola subsidiary, reports Bloomberg.

"Microsoft and Google are pleased to announce an agreement on patent issues. As part of the agreement, the companies will dismiss all pending patent infringement litigation between them, including cases related to Motorola Mobility," the joint statement reads. "Separately, Google and Microsoft have agreed to collaborate on certain patent matters and anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers."

The first legal volley came from Microsoft, which in 2010 claimed smartphone makers using Google's Android should pay royalties as the mobile operating system infringed on certain patents. Motorola was specifically targeted in one case and countered with its own assertions that Microsoft's PC, mobile and Xbox products used patented Wi-Fi and video compression technology.

Google was dragged into the mix after purchasing Motorola Mobility. The Internet search giant ultimately sold the unit to Lenovo in 2014, but retained a bulk of Motorola's technical patents as part of the deal.

Part of the argument involved Motorola's alleged abuse of deemed standards-essential patents, which are meant to be licensed on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) basis. Microsoft won a ruling worth $14.5 million in damages in 2013. Motorola also lost a case over FRAND patent abuse asserted by Apple that same year.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    ronboronbo Posts: 669member
    I know what I *think* the answer to this is, but does this agreement mean MS gets to keep collecting money from Android device makers?
  • Reply 2 of 21
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    Giggle thought they were smart when they purchased Motorola. I remember an article that said Apple was doomed because Giggle's Motorola patents would dismantle iPhone for good.

    None of that worked.

    This is what happens when you're evil.
  • Reply 3 of 21
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    ronbo wrote: »
    I know what I *think* the answer to this is, but does this agreement mean MS gets to keep collecting money from Android device makers?

    MS' smartphone sector just isn't working. They aren't gonna give up their android licensing fees.
  • Reply 4 of 21
    No more Scroogled?
  • Reply 5 of 21
    ronboronbo Posts: 669member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cali View Post





    MS' smartphone sector just isn't working. They aren't gonna give up their android licensing fees.



    That's what I figure.

  • Reply 6 of 21
    cali wrote: »
    MS' smartphone sector just isn't working. They aren't gonna give up their android licensing fees.

    What difference does it make if their smartphones aren't selling? Companies are using Microsoft IP, so they want to get paid for it.
  • Reply 7 of 21
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    What difference does it make if their smartphones aren't selling? Companies are using Microsoft IP, so they want to get paid for it.

    That was my point. He asked if they gave up the fees or not and I basically said I doubt it.
  • Reply 8 of 21
    cali wrote: »
    Giggle thought they were smart when they purchased Motorola. I remember an article that said Apple was doomed because Giggle's Motorola patents would dismantle iPhone for good.

    None of that worked.

    This is what happens when you're evil.

    I agree with you 100%!
  • Reply 9 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,889member
    cali wrote: »
    Giggle thought they were smart when they purchased Motorola. I remember an article that said Apple was doomed because Giggle's Motorola patents would dismantle iPhone for good.

    None of that worked.

    This is what happens when you're evil.
    IF there was ever such an article claiming Google was trying to destroy the iPhone with Moto patents, which I personally doubt, it would have been a dumb one. My guess is your memory is faulty. Google has never said, much less ever attempted to do anything to harm Apple's iPhone. On the contrary they go to great lengths to extend their services (and revenue sources) to MULTIPLE platforms, especially Apple's. It would make no business sense to do otherwise. So why buy Moto in the first place? Two reasons. Moto was threatening other Android licensees probably as a means of increasing their worth since they planned to sell that segment of the company. Secondly to slow down the attacks from other well-armed techs trying to nip Google Android in the bud. Neither Apple nor Microsoft has been willing to go toe-to-toe with them since on new patent claims so that seemed to have worked out. Google doesn't use their patents offensively to begin with but the threat that they might break with tradition may be enough to give pause.

    So IMO the whole Google attacking Apple meme is just that. . . a meme from a vivid imagination used by a certain segment of the fanbase to stoke the flames. Makes great bait tho.

    As for questioning whether MS would now terminate royalty agreements with Android device makers that's kinda silly too IMO. LG isn't Google. Nor is Samsung. Nope, not Moto either who never did believe Microsoft had valid claims. They all simply license an OS made by Google. Those patent claims MS has may not even read on Android itself despite what Microsoft insinuates. There's a reason MS won't allow those patent claims to be revealed. I suspect the patent reality is far less intimidating than they'd like potential licensees to believe it might be.
  • Reply 10 of 21

    Hah, now why the big guys are fighting?! of-course Microsoft will fight to keep Android in her pocket there phones are a failure! anybody tried and was satisfied by their smartphones?!

  • Reply 11 of 21
    d4njvrzfd4njvrzf Posts: 797member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by cali View Post



    Giggle thought they were smart when they purchased Motorola. I remember an article that said Apple was doomed because Giggle's Motorola patents would dismantle iPhone for good.



    None of that worked.



    This is what happens when you're evil.

    They could have chosen worse. Motorola is just about the only Android OEM that pushed back against Microsoft (and with some success: e.g. http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/13/12/07/1241221/german-court-invalidates-microsoft-fat-patent) instead of simply folding. 

  • Reply 12 of 21
    sirlance99sirlance99 Posts: 1,086member
    cali wrote: »
    Giggle thought they were smart when they purchased Motorola. I remember an article that said Apple was doomed because Giggle's Motorola patents would dismantle iPhone for good.

    None of that worked.

    This is what happens when you're evil.

    You could not be more wrong.
  • Reply 13 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,889member
    Here is the known list of patents that Microsoft claims Android licensees are infringing. Gleaned from a court filing in a case where Microsoft inexplicably failed to get a signed NDA prior to negotiations unlike every other agreement with Android licensees. In general they are all either out-dated (going back to 2002), likely or proven invalid, or more importantly not applicable to the Android OS itself.

    - U.S. Patent No. 5,889,522
    - 5,778,372
    - 6,339,780
    - 6,891,551
    - 6,957,233

    Of important note Microsoft shortly thereafter dropped that lawsuit and instead contributed a fairly substantial amount of money to the company in a supposed new partnership with them. Payoff? Quite possible IMHO
  • Reply 14 of 21
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by cali View Post



    Giggle thought they were smart when they purchased Motorola. I remember an article that said Apple was doomed because Giggle's Motorola patents would dismantle iPhone for good.



    None of that worked.

     

    Except the part where Google kept all of the applicable IP from Motorola, which consolidates much of their IP defense internally, and likely contributed to this truce with MS.

  • Reply 15 of 21
    nikon133nikon133 Posts: 2,599member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    Here is the known list of patents that Microsoft claims Android licensees are infringing. Gleaned from a court filing in a case where Microsoft inexplicably failed to get a signed NDA prior to negotiations unlike every other agreement with Android licensees. In general they are all either out-dated (going back to 2002), likely or proven invalid, or more importantly not applicable to the Android OS itself.

    - U.S. Patent No. 5,889,522
    - 5,778,372
    - 6,339,780
    - 6,891,551
    - 6,957,233

    Of important note Microsoft shortly thereafter dropped that lawsuit and instead contributed a fairly substantial amount of money to the company in a supposed new partnership with them. Payoff? Quite possible IMHO

    I believe patents are usually valid for 20 years... so patents from 2002 will have a shelf life until 2022.

    As of applicability to Android, I agree with you - they might not be applicable. But they can still be applicable to Motorola (and other) handsets. With MS's own history in PDAs and smartphones, and additional portfolio of Nokia patents - I believe there were over 8000 mobile phones related patents that changed ownership from Nokia to Microsoft - I think they still have a lot of big guns. I'd expect that their patent portfolio is bigger than what Motorola brought to Google, but who knows?

    I don't know anything about "contributed a fairly substantial amount of money to the company in a supposed new partnership with them". Haven't noticed any MS-related news that could relate to this. In fact, according to articles like this:

    http://www.computerworld.com/article/2988981/technology-law-regulation/recent-court-ruling-may-have-nudged-google-microsoft-to-settle-patent-disputes.html

    It looks like that things were going Google's way less than Microsoft's way:

    "On Sept. 15, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied Motorola's appeal for a full-bench rehearing on its petition.

    The appeals court had earlier upheld an order of a district court in Seattle setting royalty rates for Motorola's standard essential patents in the areas of H.264 video-coding standard and the 802.11 WLAN standard, at rates lower than expected by Motorola. The appeals court also upheld a subsequent jury verdict finding breach of contract and awarding Microsoft $14.5 million in damages, including $3 million in attorneys’ fees because of Motorola's “conduct in seeking injunctive relief” for Microsoft's use of the patents in some of its products".

    And also:

    "The lawsuits over SEPs had brought Google some trouble on other fronts, including from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. A complaint of the FTC alleged that the company and Motorola engaged in unfair methods of competition by breaching its commitments to standard-setting organizations to license its SEPs in the areas of cellular, video codec, and wireless LAN standards on FRAND terms. "Google violated its FRAND commitments by seeking to enjoin and exclude willing licensees of its FRAND-encumbered SEPs," according to the complaint".

    I still might be missing something. Care to share?
  • Reply 16 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,889member
    nikon133 wrote: »
    I believe patents are usually valid for 20 years... so patents from 2002 will have a shelf life until 2022.

    As of applicability to Android, I agree with you - they might not be applicable. But they can still be applicable to Motorola (and other) handsets. With MS's own history in PDAs and smartphones, and additional portfolio of Nokia patents - I believe there were over 8000 mobile phones related patents that changed ownership from Nokia to Microsoft - I think they still have a lot of big guns. I'd expect that their patent portfolio is bigger than what Motorola brought to Google, but who knows?

    I don't know anything about "contributed a fairly substantial amount of money to the company in a supposed new partnership with them". Haven't noticed any MS-related news that could relate to this.
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303916904577375502392129654

    On pure patent numbers you mentioned 8000 going from Nokia to Microsoft. I'll take your word for it as I haven't checked but I thought the IP ownership remained with Nokia. Moto contributed approx 17K including applications to Google.
    (EDIT: I see that Microsoft did get 8500 DESIGN (not utility) patents when they bought parts of Nokia. )

    Regarding the strength of patent portfolios Google supposedly comes out ahead of Microsoft.
    http://www.ambercite.com/index.php/amberblog/entry/apple-vs-microsoft-vs-google-who-has-the-strongest-patent-portfolio
  • Reply 17 of 21
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 29,497member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by nikon133 View Post





    I believe patents are usually valid for 20 years... so patents from 2002 will have a shelf life until 2022.



    As of applicability to Android, I agree with you - they might not be applicable. But they can still be applicable to Motorola (and other) handsets. With MS's own history in PDAs and smartphones, and additional portfolio of Nokia patents - I believe there were over 8000 mobile phones related patents that changed ownership from Nokia to Microsoft - I think they still have a lot of big guns. I'd expect that their patent portfolio is bigger than what Motorola brought to Google, but who knows?



    I don't know anything about "contributed a fairly substantial amount of money to the company in a supposed new partnership with them". Haven't noticed any MS-related news that could relate to this. In fact, according to articles like this:



    http://www.computerworld.com/article/2988981/technology-law-regulation/recent-court-ruling-may-have-nudged-google-microsoft-to-settle-patent-disputes.html



    It looks like that things were going Google's way less than Microsoft's way:



    "On Sept. 15, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied Motorola's appeal for a full-bench rehearing on its petition.



    The appeals court had earlier upheld an order of a district court in Seattle setting royalty rates for Motorola's standard essential patents in the areas of H.264 video-coding standard and the 802.11 WLAN standard, at rates lower than expected by Motorola. The appeals court also upheld a subsequent jury verdict finding breach of contract and awarding Microsoft $14.5 million in damages, including $3 million in attorneys’ fees because of Motorola's “conduct in seeking injunctive relief” for Microsoft's use of the patents in some of its products".



    And also:



    "The lawsuits over SEPs had brought Google some trouble on other fronts, including from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. A complaint of the FTC alleged that the company and Motorola engaged in unfair methods of competition by breaching its commitments to standard-setting organizations to license its SEPs in the areas of cellular, video codec, and wireless LAN standards on FRAND terms. "Google violated its FRAND commitments by seeking to enjoin and exclude willing licensees of its FRAND-encumbered SEPs," according to the complaint".



    I still might be missing something. Care to share?



    A design patent lasts for 14 years and a utility patent lasts for 20. Many of the patents that Steve Jobs had were design patents.

  • Reply 18 of 21
    nikon133nikon133 Posts: 2,599member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303916904577375502392129654

    On pure patent numbers you mentioned 8000 going from Nokia to Microsoft. I'll take your word for it as I haven't checked but I thought the IP ownership remained with Nokia. Moto contributed approx 17K including applications to Google.
    (EDIT: I see that Microsoft did get 8500 DESIGN (not utility) patents when they bought parts of Nokia. )

    Regarding the strength of patent portfolios Google supposedly comes out ahead of Microsoft.
    http://www.ambercite.com/index.php/amberblog/entry/apple-vs-microsoft-vs-google-who-has-the-strongest-patent-portfolio

    Hmm... I'm not convinced.

    Your 1st article - I'm guessing your connection is regarding Nook using Android as a platform for their readers? Article is from 2012. That is way before Google/MS settlement, and this partnership ended in December 2014 anyway... which is still way before settlement. Also... there was a Nook app on Windows tablets which still works, though I think it is not being updated anymore (Nook apps on Android and iOS are, again to my knowledge). In addition, Nooks were using forked Android and were not part of Google's platform - no access to Google's Store and such (without rooting), if memory serves. I wouldn't really call them Google's ally.

    In short, MS deal with B&N was about MS getting into ePublishing, not about helping Android.

    You are right about MS buying 8500 design patents... however the whole patents thing is a bit shady for me, and I'm not sure what to make out of this (which is referring to remaining 30,000 utility patents from Nokia):

    "Microsoft also bought the rights to license Nokia’s robust patent portfolio for 10 years. Microsoft is specifically buying 8,500 of Nokia's design patents, and will also make its patents available to Nokia for its HERE Maps unit. Nokia will also transfer its patent licensing agreements, including its big one with chipmaker Qualcomm, to Microsoft. Other patent agreements transferred to Microsoft includes those with IBM, Motorola Mobility (owned by Google), Motorola Solutions. Nokia also passes on patent agreements with Apple, LG, Nortel and Kodak to Microsoft". http://readwrite.com/2013/09/03/what-microsoft-did-and-didnt-buy-with-its-nokia-acquisition

    Does this mean that MS is licensing Nokia utility patents to Motorola and others - for the next 10 years since the deal was done - or what? I wouldn't expect that Nokia would let lucrative licensee like Google/Motorola off the hook easily, so if Nokia is not gunning after them directly, it would make sense that MS got the "honors".

    Re the patent portfolio strength, your link is comparing total patents, not only patents related to mobile telephony and smart devices. Three strongest Google patents are all about advertising... I'm guessing many more are too. In addition, MS has more patents in the last 10 years (where I would presume most smart-devices relevant patents are) and more patent citations in the last 5 years, albeit less citations per patent. Add to that all the Nokia mobile telephony related patents that MS should have access to... I don't know, but I still think that they have bigger guns than Google when it comes to smart devices and mobile telephony in general.

    I hope we will eventually get some details about this settlement.
  • Reply 19 of 21
    nikon133nikon133 Posts: 2,599member

    A design patent lasts for 14 years and a utility patent lasts for 20. Many of the patents that Steve Jobs had were design patents.

    OK, thanks. I did some reading in the meantime, too - amazing how useful the skill of reading still is! ;)
  • Reply 20 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,889member
    nikon133 wrote: »
    Hmm... I'm not convinced.

    Your 1st article - I'm guessing your connection is regarding Nook using Android as a platform for their readers? Article is from 2012. That is way before Google/MS settlement, and this partnership ended in December 2014 anyway... which is still way before settlement. Also... there was a Nook app on Windows tablets which still works, though I think it is not being updated anymore (Nook apps on Android and iOS are, again to my knowledge). In addition, Nooks were using forked Android and were not part of Google's platform - no access to Google's Store and such (without rooting), if memory serves. I wouldn't really call them Google's ally.
    I'm guessing you've confused my posts with someone else's? I've not suggested the MS Google truce has anything to do with Android licensees. Actually I've said just the opposite. This has no effect on the OEM's and their licensing agreements with either Google or Microsoft. IMO it likely doesn't have any effect on Android the OS either. I personally have doubts there's any MS patents that Google Android infringes.
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