Microsoft Suing Motorola Over Patents

by Jeff Wiener on October 4, 2010

In the wonderful world of lawsuits, the fun never stops. This time out, it looks like Microsoft is suing Motorola over infringement. Microsoft alleges that Motorola has infringed on its smart phone patents.

According to the lawsuit, Motorola smart phones that use Android software from Google have been “stepping on” Microsoft technology. The tech in question includes calendars, contacts and synchronizing email.

Lawsuits are becoming increasingly common, if not daily occurrences, in the industry. There are several lawsuits already in play, with Microsoft involved in a great number of them. Some analysts see this as a way for Microsoft to legally fight against those entities that are more popular than their phone offerings, with Microsoft’s struggles in moving away from computers and towards cell phones as being key motivation for the various lawsuits.

In the case of this Motorola suit, it looks like Microsoft really believes they’ve been wronged.

In a rather flowery blog post low on details and high on rhetoric, Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, attempts to provide more context to the lawsuits. He goes on to describe how Microsoft innovations like Exchange ActiveSync help make smart phones “smart.” Gutierrez says “people manage more than email from their devices, they manage their lives.”

Are there reasons to think that this is little more than a strike at Android? Microsoft has doubtlessly struggled with getting smart phone makers to adopt its software, while Google’s Android has been a popular and explosive development. Motorola is one such maker and their decision to drop Microsoft in favour of Android appears to have impacted Microsoft in the wrong way.

For now, companies running Android are dealing with low costs and few problems. But if lawsuits like this one and ones filed by Apple and Oracle Corp. are successful in lowering the boom over Android, that could change and the platform could become more expensive. And let’s face it: any slowing of Google’s fortunes in the smart phone sector would mean good news for Microsoft as the latter tries to engage the industry with its foray into it.

For Motorola’s part, they haven’t seen the lawsuit as of press time. Even so, they seem ready to fight it out. “Motorola has a leading intellectual property portfolio, one of the strongest in the industry, and we will vigorously defend ourself in this matter,” spokeswoman Jennifer Erickson said.

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