Microsoft Wins Patent Claim Against Motorola

International Trade Commission, however, rejects several other patent claims that Microsoft filed against Motorola.

Paul McDougall, Editor At Large, InformationWeek

December 21, 2011

2 Min Read

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Motorola Mobility, which Google has agreed to acquire, uses technology in its Android smartphones that violates a patent held by Microsoft, the International Trade Commission has found. However, Microsoft failed to convince ITC Judge Theodore Essex that Motorola violated several other of the company's smartphone patents.

"As Samsung, HTC, Acer, and other companies have recognized, respecting others' intellectual property through licensing is the right path forward," David Howard, Microsoft's deputy general counsel, told Bloomberg.

It was not immediately clear whether Motorola would seek a licensing deal with Microsoft that would rectify the situation.

Google said in August that it reached a deal to acquire Motorola Mobility, which makes smartphone handsets, tablets, and TV set-top boxes, for $12.5 billion in cash. The acquisition would give Google the ability to produce complete mobile systems that, as CEO Larry Page said in a blog post at the time, yield "amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem."

But Microsoft claims that code in Android, as well as in Linux, another open operating system, steps on patents related to technologies in its Windows and Windows Phone operating systems. Over the past couple of years, the company has inked licensing deals with a number of equipment makers that use Linux and Android in their products.

Among the companies now paying Microsoft for the right to use Linux are Samsung, LG Electronics, Fuji-Xerox, Brother, TomTom, and Kyocera Mita.

Microsoft has taken a similar tack when it comes to smartphone software. The company has obtained royalties from a number of handset makers that use Android to power their devices.

General Dynamics Itronix, Velocity Micro, and Onkyo are among the Android users that have agreed to purchase licensing rights from Microsoft. Barnes & Noble, meanwhile, is disputing Microsoft's claim that its Android-based Nook e-reader violates Redmond's patents.

It's not known how much Microsoft earns from its royalty program, as the company doesn't report the number on its public financial statements. By some estimates, however, it has earned more from Android, the most popular mobile OS in the U.S. market, than it has from its own Windows Phone 7 software, which lags well behind Apple's iOS and RIM's BlackBerry OS, as well as Android, in market share.

Microsoft shares were off 0.5%, to $25.90, in morning trading Wednesday.

According to our Outlook 2012 Survey, IT should expect soaring demand but cautious hiring as companies use technology to try to get closer to customers. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek: Inside Windows Server 8. (Free registration required.)

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About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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