Microsoft files antitrust lawsuit against Motorola Mobility


22 Feb 2012

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Microsoft has filed a competition law complaint with the European Commission against Motorola Mobility, claiming the firm is attempting to use essential patents to block its products.

Dave Heiner, vice-president and deputy general counsel of Corporate Standards and Antitrust Group at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post that the Google-owned Motorola Mobility is demanding that Microsoft needs to remove its ‘standards-based’ ability to play video and connect wirelessly on products such as PCs and Xbox consoles or stop selling them.

Heiner said Motorola claimed it has patents on these standards and is accusing Motorola of ‘breaking its promise’ by applying its patents against technical standards used to build products with video and internet connectivity.

"You probably take for granted that you can view videos on your smartphone, tablet, PC or DVD/Blu-ray player and connect to the internet without being tied to a cable,” said Heiner.

“That works because the industry came together years ago to define common technical standards that every firm can use to build compatible products for video and Wi-Fi.

"Motorola and all the other firms that contributed to these standards also made a promise to one another: that if they had any patents essential to the standards, they would make their patents available on fair and reasonable terms, and would not use them to block competitors from shipping their products,” he said.

Royalties

The issue stems from a court case in November 2011, where Microsoft sued Motorola over wireless and video coding patents used in Xbox consoles and smartphones. The company claimed Motorola charged excessive royalties for those patents. Motorola countersued Microsoft, claiming Microsoft infringed 16 of its patents.

Heiner alleges that Motorola is demanding that Microsoft pays it a royalty of US$22.50 for each US$1,000 laptop for its 50 patents on the video standard H.264 and the royalty increases as the price of the laptop increases. He pointed out that at least 2,300 other patents were needed to implement this standard from a group of 29 companies, however, Microsoft only has to pay this group a royalty of 2 cents for these patents.

Heiner called on Motorola to "honour its promises" and make its standard essential patents available on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. He also addressed Google, pointing out how it is “so publicly committed to protecting the internet,” to influence Motorola Mobility and asked it not to “kill video on the web.”

Apple vs Motorola Mobility

Microsoft isn’t the first company to sue Motorola Mobility over this issue, as earlier this month Apple sued Motorola Mobility, claiming it violated FRAND standards. The company alleged Motorola Mobility refused to license its patents "on reasonable terms", despite the fact it was declared an industry standard patent.

Motorola Mobility claims it tried to agree to fair licensing terms with Apple, but Apple refused.

Late last year, Motorola Mobility won a patent lawsuit against Apple in Germany, which ruled that Apple infringed on its wireless patent.