John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Microsoft Accuses Google, Motorola Mobility of FRAND Patent Abuse

Allegations of standards-essential patent abuse are piling up against Motorola Mobility.

This morning, Microsoft said it has filed a complaint with the European Commission against the company alleging it is not offering some of its standards-essential patents on FRAND (fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory) terms.

“In legal proceedings on both sides of the Atlantic, Motorola is demanding that Microsoft take its products off the market, or else remove their standards-based ability to play video and connect wirelessly,” Microsoft vice president and deputy general counsel Dave Heiner wrote in a blog post today. “The only basis for these actions is that these products implement industry standards, on which Motorola claims patents.”

Heiner notes that Motorola is demanding royalties of $22.50 on every midrange laptop that makes use of its portfolio of 50 patents on the H.264 video standard. In contrast, Microsoft pays a group of 29 companies just two cents per laptop for license to use their pool of 2,300 H.264 patents. His implication: Motorola’s FRAND terms are vastly inflated compared to the rest of the industry.

Which is something we’ve heard before. Apple recently lodged a complaint with the European Commission against Motorola Mobility claiming the company was demanding royalites of 2.25 percent of Apple’s sales of wireless devices for use of certain standards-essential patents — terms Motorola Mobility’s new owner Google has endorsed. It also petitioned the European Telecommunications Standards Institute to create for the telecom industry a consistent licensing scheme that would set “appropriate” royalty rates for the patents necessary to make wireless devices.

“Motorola has broken its promise,” Heiner concluded. “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. … For a company so publicly committed to protecting the Internet, one might expect them to join the growing consensus against using standard essential patents to block products. … Google’s unwillingness so far to make this commitment is very concerning.”

Reached for comment, Google criticized Microsoft for the move. “We haven’t seen Microsoft’s complaint, but it’s consistent with the way they use the regulatory process to attack competitors,” a company representative said. “It’s particularly ironic, given their track record in this area and collaboration with patent trolls.”

Motorola issued an even more terse response: “We are yet to receive a copy of the complaint, but Motorola is committed to vigorously defending its intellectual property.”

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald