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Motorola Countersues Microsoft Over 16 Patents

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the sue-sue-sudio dept.

Microsoft 62

FlorianMueller writes "As if there weren't already enough patent suits related to smartphone technologies, Motorola just announced its widely anticipated countersuit against Microsoft. Its subsidiary Motorola Mobility filed complaints with two US District Courts (Southern District of Florida and Western District of Wisconsin). Motorola already litigates with Apple in those and other courts. According to Motorola, the patents relate to technologies in the fields of operating systems, video codecs, email, instant messaging, object-oriented software architectures, WiFi, and graphical passwords. Motorola claims Windows, the Live messenger, Windows Phone, Outlook and other Microsoft products infringe. Motorola's action is no surprise given that all of the companies sued over patent infringement by Android — with the exception of Google — have already countersued."

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62 comments

Pew Pew Pew... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34195970)

Its like a giant space battle.. but involving black suits, lots of money and lawyers.

Here's hoping none of them are taken seriously in the courts and all these silly, strategic patents are called what they are, invalid and worthless. (And hope that the technology, on whomevers side doesn't suffer)

One can hope right?

Re:Pew Pew Pew... (0)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196000)

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -Oscar Wilde

Re:Pew Pew Pew... (4, Funny)

Magada (741361) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196106)

Aye! The patent Armageddon our forefathers have predicted is finally coming to pass. Take heart, brothers and sisters, and let the mighty beasts wail and crash each other asunder, for though there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, aye, and many a lost source of income, we will be there at the end, to wage battle with the last, greatest Patent Troll left standing and umm... sic the anti-trust hounds upon it? Again? Oh, wait...

Re:Pew Pew Pew... (3, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196728)

So, do you have particular insight into these patents to back your claim that they are invalid and worthless?

Or are you one of those people who really thinks patents shouldn't exist, but won't just admit it?

Or perhaps you think you get to stipulate the terms of how a patent must be used for it to be valid and have worth, even though the system of patent laws intentionally doesn't do so?

Re:Pew Pew Pew... (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200798)

The reality is that 99% of all software patents are bogus because they fail the tests of being novel, non-trivial, and non-obvious. 90% of them fail all three tests. The problem is that the patent offices are completely incompetent. The simplest fix is to get rid of all software patents.

Patent War I (2, Interesting)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197292)

More than hope. I really do think this is the beginning of the end for software patents.

You have these multibillion dollar companies with gigantic patent portfolios. The implied threat is there. "Don't sue us, or you'll get it in return." And the big players don't sue each other over trivial things that infringe because of the threat of mutually assured destruction. That's always been the rule, until recently.

Gigantic forces in reserve, a tangled web of alliances, then a single shot fired [wikipedia.org] is what started WWI.

Something this inherently unstable as our current state of affairs doesn't take much of a push - we've seen it before.

The only problem is that these multibillion dollar companies place a monetary value on their patent portfolios. When those dry up all these companies will have to revalue themselves in the marketplace. Stocks will tank for a while. It'll be bad.

Re:Patent War I (2, Interesting)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198190)

And yet, WWI didn't end guns and bombs; it merely killed a lot of people. So you draw an analogy to this conflict, where the "weapons" are patents, and think the battle will put an end to the weapon?

This isn't the first, or the last, time that a group of large companies get into a mess where each alleges the other is infringing patents, and it's not the first, or the last, where all probably have some valid claims. If the MAD analogies that keep flying around were valid, and with the first shot fired, you might think the companies would all sink - and maybe you think Congress or the Court will see the effect of the current law as too damaging and step in. But none of those things will happen, because lawsuits have an option that nuclear war doesn't: settlement.

These companies have done nothing but move their standoff from a theoretical issue hidden in their file drawers to a practical matter in court filings. I predit they will reach an agreement where all are licensed to use all of the technology involved, maybe with payments from one to another if there seems to be an imbalance in overall contribution to the IP pool, and that will be that.

Re:Patent War I (2, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 3 years ago | (#34199128)

Granted it's not a perfect analogy; I didn't use a car.

But I still think there are enough points in common to draw a parallel. A tangled web of alliances, a stockpiling of resources, and itchy trigger fingers.

But you're right - patents aren't bombs. That's why I predict a different outcome. How many patents are some of these companies sitting on? IBM is granted about 4000 per year. [theregister.co.uk] And now we're seeing squabbles involving a few dozen.

This can't do anything but escalate.

The next idea will be "They're suing us for 6 patents? Nail them for 12. They responded with 15? Go for 20." And so on.

With any luck the courts will see this for what it is. It is anti competitive. These patents don't protect innovation, they're a threat to others. A huge "nuclear option" series of lawsuits might be the best way to finally have the courts see this. If that happens perhaps we'll all get that patent rewrite we all have been hoping for. No better way to show the world something needs fixed than by demonstrating just how broken it is.

Re:Patent War I (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34202876)

These companies have done nothing but move their standoff from a theoretical issue hidden in their file drawers to a practical matter in court filings. I predit they will reach an agreement where all are licensed to use all of the technology involved, maybe with payments from one to another if there seems to be an imbalance in overall contribution to the IP pool, and that will be that.

I hear this argument often, but I don't quite understand it. Consider this.

Patents are public. Therefore, before you sue someone over your patents, you can - and should! - check if they own any which they may counter-sue you on.

Furthermore, before you even sue, you'll probably reach out privately first and make your offer, be it royalties or cross-licensing agreement or whatever. If they feel it's the best they can hope for, they'll take it. We've seen that in practice in Microsoft vs HTC. And if they feel that they have strong patent defense of their own, surely they will point that out when rejecting the offer.

So, if it actually comes to court, presumably this means that both companies believe they will have the upper hand in the fight. Clearly this can't be true, and one of them is badly mistaken. But then why do we have so many cases of "X sues Y, Y counter-sues X" ongoing right now? Isn't that way too many mistakes?

What am I missing here?

This is going to be an interesting one (5, Interesting)

dyfet (154716) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196034)

While not covered well in the press, like IXI, Motorola is also demanding that Microsoft stop shipping "infringing" products, though in this case they speak of virtually the entire Microsoft product line. This can become very interesting. I think Microsoft picked on the wrong company to try and bully and run it's protection racket on this time. They seem to have inherited SCO's footgun...

Re:This is going to be an interesting one (5, Interesting)

frinkster (149158) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196376)

While not covered well in the press, like IXI, Motorola is also demanding that Microsoft stop shipping "infringing" products, though in this case they speak of virtually the entire Microsoft product line. This can become very interesting. I think Microsoft picked on the wrong company to try and bully and run it's protection racket on this time. They seem to have inherited SCO's footgun...

It will be an interesting fight. Don't forget that RIM sued Motorola, Motorola sued back, and they settled the suits out of court confidentially but with a couple pieces of information released to the public:

The financial terms of the Agreement include an up-front payment and ongoing royalties to Motorola. Further terms and conditions of the Agreement are confidential. [motorola.com]

So yes, it is possible that Microsoft picked the wrong company to bully. RIM certainly did. Motorola has been doing high-tech stuff for a very long time...

Re:This is going to be an interesting one (2, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197266)

From an outsider's perspective, I saw the MS lawsuit as a thinly disguised attempt to try fight dirty against Android. While some might think Apple is the biggest competitor in the mobile space, it's really Android. Just like the computer market, MS sells their OS primarily through their partners. Unlike the computer market, their partners have a suitable alternative in Android. Android is not completely free (there are things the handset makers agree to in order to use it) but probably much cheaper than WM6 was. The fear at MS would be if their partners abandoned them for Android (which they can't do for iOS). Short of making their own phone themselves, they will be left without any way to sell their OS. Unfortunately for MS, Motorola has a long history and lots of patents throughout the years.

Re:This is going to be an interesting one (1)

tjhart85 (1840452) | more than 3 years ago | (#34204310)

Android is not completely free (there are things the handset makers agree to in order to use it) but probably much cheaper than WM6 was.

They don't have to agree to anything to use Android at all. If they want to bundle Google software with it and have that device access the Android Market, THEN they need to agree to certain things.

The Samsung Fascinate had some Google products removed (search and maps) by default and Google STILL allowed them access to everything.

Re:This is going to be an interesting one (2, Interesting)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197372)

While not covered well in the press, like IXI, Motorola is also demanding that Microsoft stop shipping "infringing" products, though in this case they speak of virtually the entire Microsoft product line. This can become very interesting.

That's a standard request, and is unlikely to be granted. Because monetary damages are adequate for patent infringement, and because Microsoft isn't a tiny company with no liquid assets, a preliminary injunction is almost certain to be denied.

Re:This is going to be an interesting one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34197472)

You're saying IXI is covered well in the press? What's an "IXI"? I've never even heard of it.

Waiting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34196072)

I think that we are all waiting for Windows Phone SP2 to be released before we take the plunge... Hey that's what Microsoft has trained us to do after all of these years.

Enough Already (2, Interesting)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196110)

We need a "Major Player" summit of the largest technology companies. They can all get together, argue over who gets to sit in which chair, what they'll have for lunch (or brunch if they're feeling really ornery) and then have a knockdown-dragout fight over who's giant projector to use during the meetings. That should keep the suits and lawyers busy so the engineers back in the labs can actually get some work done.

Re:Enough Already (1)

yossarianuk (1402187) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197350)

If a certain CEO of one of the biggest patent trolls are there I imagine he won't be sitting on his chair (he enjoys throwing them apparently...)

Re:Enough Already (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197476)

Until they come out of said meeting with a massive patent sharing agreement that does little but guarantee that there will never be a new competitor in the market ever again.

No surprises (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34196124)

All this patent litigation is going to result in a patent pool, locking new competition out of the smart phone market for 20 years. Hope the tech companies enjoy their little circle-jerk. All it's highlighting to the rest of the world is the stupidity of some of the patents involved.

Re:No surprises (1)

sargon666777 (555498) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196380)

You couldnt have been more right.. it always comes down to a patent pool which is the worst thing that could happen. (e.g. see MPEGLA)

Re:No surprises (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196826)

The question is who gets to be in the pool. Lots of the established names would love to see a pool without Apple and maybe without Google and Microsoft too. If they are all in the pool, then there will still be a question of how much each patent is worth and who is paying to be a member versus who is paid.

I'll make the popcorn (2, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196126)

This is a Mutually Assured Destruction fight, but unlike others with this strategy I'm not going to be hit.

You would have thought that these Fortune 500 companies would figure out that the only winning move is not to play.

Re:I'll make the popcorn (1)

Nemesisghost (1720424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196288)

The only problem is if you want to make money in any market you have to play ball. That's why patents like these are so destructive to the creative process. It makes it impossible for someone to even want to try to outdo what's out there. The costs involved mean that even if I have a good marketable idea, and the money to develop it and bring it to market, it'll never see the light of day because more than likely I'll never have the money to fight off all the patent trolls out there. That is unless I sell my idea to one of the big players already in the game.

Software patents are even worse because we can easily trace our skill sets back in just a few steps to very few people. Not only that, but for the most part we all think alike and put any number of us in different groups and have us come up with a solution to a problem, and every group will probably come up with the same solution, or something that would be covered under a patent of any of the other solutions. Now given that, how is it possible for someone to start a company that would be the next Microsoft, Apple, or Google?

Want FREE Windows Phone 7 Apps? All FREE ? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34196132)

Then read this

http://forums.create.msdn.com/forums/t/65871.aspx [msdn.com]

and have at it. 99 centes too much you say? How about 0 cents, for any app. For all apps. Who says Micrsoft is greedy? They give it all away. Of course, it's not their apps, but that's beside the point.

So a guy walks into a cell phone store ... (2, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196144)

Customer: "I would like to buy a cell phone."

Seller: "Sure! What are you looking for?"

Customer: "I would like to buy a cell phone from a company that is neither suing nor being sued by other cell phone cell companies.

Seller: "Sorry, all serious cell phone manufacturers are either suing, or being sued by other serious cell phone manufacturers."

Lawsuit Untanglement (2, Funny)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196162)

With Motorola, Mircosoft, Nokia, and Apple having launched various lawsuits and counter-lawsuits against each other, I think that untangling this mess in the proper order is quickly starting to become an NP-complete problem.

Re:Lawsuit Untanglement (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196852)

Visualisation to the rescue! The Guardian has a map of the lawsuits [guim.co.uk]. It's missing this one, so the Microsoft to Motorola arrow should have an arrow at the other end too.

Re:Lawsuit Untanglement (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198580)

Haha, that's hilarious! And the Lawsuit Network was even larger than I could imagine!

Re:Lawsuit Untanglement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34199844)

The Lawsuit Network provides more coverage than the component networks combined.

This is MAD I tell you. (4, Funny)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196232)

Yeah, I could see this sort of thing coming when I heard that the whole point in building up a patent portfolio was to keep others from suing you in some sort of MAD deterrence setup.
They can't sue us because we'll sue them in retaliation? When has a lawyer EVER said "no, you can't sue them, that'd be stupid"?

Head for the hills! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34196490)

Its a patent story! The swpat guy will be here any minute! with links! WITH LINKSS!!!!!1

Southern District of FL (1)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196504)

Anyone know why Motorola chose this court??

Re:Southern District of FL (3, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196656)

I think that if you don't make products you take your patent troll business to Texas. Evidently if you actually use your patents for making things you have to go elsewhere.

Re:Southern District of FL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34197018)

Complete guess, but Motorola has some offices in south FL, might be their lawyer works out of one of them?

Re:Southern District of FL (3, Informative)

kervin (64171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197068)

Anyone know why Motorola chose this court??

Motorola has a very large presence in Fort Lauderdale Florida.

Re:Southern District of FL (1)

dtmos (447842) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197614)

Motorola has a large plant in Plantation, Florida, a suburb of Ft. Lauderdale, where a lot of the engineering for portable products (including iDEN phones) is done and which also has a corporate IP office. It may be that they saw advantage in having the inventors and relevant attorneys in close proximity to the court.

Object-oriented software architectures? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34196540)

Who's out there!?! Codewarrior! [wikipedia.org] But I thought you were dead!!!

Judges should game the system back (5, Insightful)

awkScooby (741257) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196870)

If all of these judges would put temporary injunctions in place, banning the cell makers in their case(s) from selling infringing phones, the cell industry would come to a screeching halt. That's what the cell industry has effectively asked for, by everyone suing everyone else for patent infringement. Just take them all at face value, and stop all of these infringers from shipping anything. These patents are mutually assured destruction, right? Let the MAD begin!

They'll never resolve this tangled mess (1)

pyalot (1197273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34196930)

This whole cyclic undirected graph of lawsuits with varying levels of reference cycles will never be resolved. At some point pretty soon it'll just deadlock out, unable to move one suit forward because it depends cyclically on another suit.

Will this stop Nissan LEAF from using Windows? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34197206)

The Nissan Leaf has a cell phone data connection, but it could be much more functional using a Linux kernel preferably Android :P

Let the big boys go at it... (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197240)

For once , a few of the big boys are at odds with each other, which can only mean profit, for the consumer. As it stands, each time the big ones go at it, they end up going into bloodlusts, that provoke better sales on items that normally are overpriced, and will tend to bring down the overall price point the companies tend to look for....

M$ vp1>Our 7 phone is not doing well
M$ vp2>Might be becuase google is coming out with android and apple is too
M$ vp1>We also have those nasty patents cases coming, what are we to do...
M$ aggressive vp3>We make the 7phone half the price it normally would be, like the xbox at first (price war casualty again) we were selling them at a loss to gain market shares, as PS3 were being sold at a loss too, so we could do the same thing...
M$ vp1 & M$ vp2>Arrrr, yes, bring on the war, we'll get them......

Rates of Innovation (1)

emilmont (1938770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197674)

“In industries where the dynamics of technological change display a cumulative and incremental character, the protection of “commons” of freely accessible knowledge is likely to yield much higher rates of innovation than the enforcement of strong intellectual property rights.” - A. Nuvolari

The cell phone industry (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34197808)

The cell phone industry was going along just fine until outsiders started to use there weapon of choice "Patents" Apple,MS,Google are outsiders who bought there way into the cell phone industry. I should have been a lawyer because when its all said and done there the ones laughing all the way to the bank.

en.swpat.org (1)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198140)

Here's some background on this and other phone cases:

* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Microsoft_v._Motorola_(2010,_USA) [swpat.org]
* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Phone_patent_litigation [swpat.org]
* http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Patent_non-aggression_pacts [swpat.org]

Besides phones being a growth market, this problem is aggravated by the fact that a bunch of big hardware companies are suddenly in the same market as a bunch of big software companies. Unlike their usual competitors, these buy guys don't yet have patent non-aggression pacts, so they just go to war instead.

Nuclear patent armageddon (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198410)

Well, we all knew that patents have been used in business as a nuclear deterrent against being sued for patent infringement. But now that someone has broken their "cold war" stance, we are seeing a nuclear crossfire that is just about to get interesting.

After we see all this going on, perhaps we will see some of the big players come out against software patents to end the chaos. It's going to become very expensive... even for the big players.

Just remember, it's your taxpayer money burning (2, Interesting)

pyalot (1197273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34198702)

Because the judicial system is paid for by you, the taxpayer. So instead of doing important things, like processing violent crime, the courts get DDOSed now by a bunch of companies who like to play games with the system and you pay for it to happen.

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34199188)

Would you rather these companies go galt? they spent the time and money developing their products, so they have the right and the duty to protect theor PRIVATE PROPERTY. Fuck all you statists who want to steal from me to pay for your health care, but refuse to allow companies to protect their intellectual property.

Re:So? (1)

pyalot (1197273) | more than 3 years ago | (#34200816)

You know protecting whatnot is all good and fine. I'd just like it to happen in a fashion that doesn't clog up court time and does not cost the taxpayer money. But besides that, suing each other isn't accomplishing anything other then to finance the Lawyer industry. The issue, if you want to put it so succinctly is, that you Americans stopped doing stuff (like cars, electronics, etc.) and increasingly rely on an industry of imaginary property and lawsuits. The issue with that is that ultimately imaginary property and lawsuits do produce nothing of tangible inherent worth. You'll figure that out sooner or later I'm sure.

Re:So? (1)

losfromla (1294594) | more than 3 years ago | (#34201546)

way to take a brave stance on behalf of corporations Mr. AC. Go to galt? Is that like a tourist destination? Some new name for heck?

It's about damn time... (2, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34199018)

Finally, they've decided to use these patents for their intended purpose, to stifle innovation!

If only the PTOs publicly advertised patents as munitions against competition instead of insurance for inventors, it would simplify the whole process...

Judge: Everyone, roll for initiative. Ok, Motorola, your OOP patent does 2D8 x 10 million dollars of damage, and has a litigation speed of 8. Microsoft, what's your armor class?

The world is not sitting still... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34199102)

I don't expect the developing world will just sit on its thumb as US companies waste their resources playing political games with patents rather than focusing on delivering innovation.

What goes around... ? (1)

eyenot (102141) | more than 3 years ago | (#34199592)

Is this where Bill Gates has to hand back all his ill gotten gains and call it a wrap, move back into a garage? One that opens automatically when the owner approaches the door?

So MAD breaks finally down. (1)

Hasai (131313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34207128)

For those who didn't live through the Cold War, MAD stands for "Mutually Assured Destruction." Just like the Cold War, and for that matter WW-I, everyone in the tech industry has been stockpiling weaponry (patents) for years in order to protect themselves from each other. The argument for the situation is always that only a lunatic would dare upset the status quo. Unfortunately, it only takes one lunatic.

de rigeur (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34317252)

Indeed, patent litigation [generalpatent.com] has become almost "de rigeur" among the tech heavyweights. Two resulting concerns are, of course, (1) issues of antitrust, and (2) actual innovation getting sort shrift in favor of, as some have put it, "the biggest patent patent portfolio." Thank goodness USPTO Director David Kappos has reportedly made a commitment to maintaining high patent quality, in the midst of this patent arms race. Let's hope he and his agency stick to their guns.

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