Microsoft, Google End Patent Warfare

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Bad news for lawyers. Peace breaks out after years of patent disputes between Microsoft and Google

Microsoft and Google have agreed to end all patent infringement lawsuits against each other, in an historic end to five years of patent disputes.

But the settlement has been viewed by one patent expert as a setback for Microsoft, as he said that Redmond had made little headway in five years of legal action against Google.

Lawsuit Truce

“Microsoft and Google are pleased to announce an agreement on patent issues,” both companies said in a statement to the press. “As part of the agreement, the companies will dismiss all pending patent infringement litigation between them, including cases related to Motorola Mobility. Separately, Google and Microsoft have agreed to collaborate on certain patent matters and anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers.”

auction4The battle began in late 2010, when Microsoft sued Motorola over Android patent violations. In the end, a total of eighteen lawsuits were ongoing between Microsoft and Google, covering technology used in smartphones, Wi-Fi and even Microsoft’s Xbox gaming platform that briefly halted sales of Xbox and Windows 7 in Germany for example.

To aid in its fight against Microsoft and others, Google acquired Motorola Mobility in 2012, and then sold it off to Lenovo but retained the vast bulk of its patent portfolio.

“There’s nothing in it that would suggest Microsoft made any headway in five years of suing,” said patent expert Florian Mueller.

“In boxing, the champion retains the title if a bout ends in a draw,” he added. “Considering the facts surrounding this litigation, there can be no doubt that this is great for Google and disappointing for Microsoft (though things could always be worse).”

Lawyer Gravytrain?

Mueller did point out that the only winners in five years of legal tussles has been the lawyers.

“The biggest winners in this are the Quinn Emanuel lawyers who represented Google/Motorola against Microsoft in the US (led by Charles Verhoeven) and Germany (Dr. Marcus Grosch),” said Mueller.

Over the years, Microsoft has aggressively pursued companies using the Android operating system, looking for royalty payments, and Redmond achieved some notable successes in getting big name companies to cough up royalty payments.

Microsoft’s campaign against Android caused an exasperated Google to accuse Microsoft of “extortion.”

It urged Android users to fight, but in the end many settled.

“Microsoft has the industry’s best IP licensing team and is generating billions of dollars per year in Android patent licenses,” wrote Mueller. “The patent stalemate between Microsoft and Google won’t entitle any of Google’s partners to a refund. But Google always discouraged Android OEMs from paying Microsoft.”

“I absolutely agree with analysts who view this agreement between Microsoft and Google as a sign of Microsoft’s attitude toward competitors being fundamentally different under its new CEO than under Steve Ballmer and, previously, Bill Gates,” he added.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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