SOFTWARE PATENTS BULLY Microsoft is whingeing about Google's buyout of Motorola Mobility and moaning that it could mean the end of Windows PCs, Xbox consoles and viewing home videos of cats over the internet.
Google's deal for Motorola Mobility was approved by the European Commission (EC) and the US last week and today Microsoft filed its first formal EC competition complaint against Motorola over the patent rights behind the H.264 video standard.
In a blog post Dave Heiner, VP and deputy general counsel at Microsoft wrote that the filing was a response to an alleged attempt by Motorola to block sales of Windows PCs, Xbox consoles and other products.
"Their offense? These products enable people to view videos on the Web and to connect wirelessly to the Internet using industry standards," Heiner claimed.
At issue are common technical standards, said Heiner, that firms including Motorola agreed on some time ago.
"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 added.
"Motorola has broken its promise. 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."
Heiner said that Motorola, and by implication Google, are demanding that poor old Microsoft take its products off the market, or remove their standards-based method for playing video and connecting to things wirelessly.
"The only basis for these actions is that these products implement industry standards, on which Motorola claims patents," he added. "Yet when the industry adopted these standards, we all were counting on Motorola and every contributor to live up to their promises."
Unlike Microsoft, which recently told the EC that it would grant patents on "fair and reasonable" terms, Motorola is being unreasonable, he said, and is demanding a royalty on a $1,000 laptop of $22.50.
"Imagine if every firm acted like Motorola. Windows implements more than 60 standards, and a PC supports about 200. If every firm priced its standard essential patents like Motorola, the cost of the patents would be greater than all the other costs combined in making PCs, tablets, smartphones and other devices," he added. "Obviously, this would greatly increase the prices of these devices for consumers."
We have asked Motorola to respond. Early last year Google dropped support for the H.264 standard, saying that it was too laden with patents. µ