Despite the soaring success of its Android operating system in the smartphone market, internet search giant Google is accusing Microsoft and Nokia of conspiring to use its patents against rivals in the market. In short, Google has called them patent trolls.
The internet company has taken a complaint to the European Commission about the transfer of some 2,000 patents to a third party called the MOSAID Group that is known for aggressively pursuing patent litigation. Microsoft and Nokia are joined at the hip in driving the success of the Windows Phone ecosystem.
It is understood that 1,200 of the patents are considered standard essential patents and could see Nokia and Microsoft run afoul of EU fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) principles.
So far, it is understood that Nokia has dismissed the allegations by Google as incorrect.
Patent wars are a ‘pain in the ass’
The patent wars are spinning out of control and earlier this week Apple CEO Tim Cook described them as a “pain in the ass.”
The impact on innovation because of the actions of patent trolls could be far more costly than even the tech companies themselves envisage but as long as the lawyers make fees these actions are likely to just roll on.
Microsoft itself has had to play the FRAND card and has accused Motorola of breaching a promise around standard essential payments.
Last month, a court in Mannheim ruled Microsoft had breached an agreement with Motorola Mobility when using its video-compression technology in products such as the Xbox 360, Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer and Windows 7.
The patent wars will continue and will serve to enrich no one but the patent attorneys.
You would think an industry with so much potential for good would have better things to be doing. But as one industry insider told me once, Silicon Valley is built on patents.