Microsoft, Google, Apple and many other technology / software / internet companies have been embroiled in patent infringement and licensing disputes in the recent past. In the last couple of years, especially, the patent wars have really intensified, with tech giants spending billions of dollars to buy patents and/or license them.
Microsoft, being one of the pros in the game, has been making billions of dollars in patent licensing fees. One of its primary targets has been Android, and it has managed to coerce almost every major Android device maker to enter patent licensing deals with it.
In an unanticipated move, Microsoft has approached Motorola (and Google) rather publicly, in a bid to end all patent licensing disputes and enter cross licensing agreements covering both their patent portfolios at reasonable terms.
Microsoft’s official statement says:
“Microsoft has always been, and remains open to, a settlement of our patent litigation with Motorola. As we have said before, we are seeking solely the same level of reasonable compensation for our patented intellectual property that numerous other Android distributors – both large and small – have already agreed to recognize in our negotiations with them. And we stand ready to pay reasonable compensation for Motorola’s patented intellectual property as well.”
Microsoft is seeking a comprehensive resolution which would end all outstanding patent disputes, and also demanding that all patent licenses be granted at market rates determined by existing patent licensing agreements with other parties and FRAND terms.
One of the main reasons why Google had acquired Motorola was because of its patent portfolio, which provided it enough ammunition to go up against Apple and Microsoft which had been bullying it and its device partners.
Motorola commented on Microsoft’s statement:
“Microsoft wants to undercut Motorola’s industry-leading patent portfolio, licensed by more than 50 other companies on fair and reasonable terms, while seeking inflated royalties tied to standards that Microsoft alone controls. Motorola is always open to negotiations that avoid wasteful and abusive patent claims.”
While I hope that both companies end these time consuming disputes, it seems highly unlikely for now, given their long standing rivalry.