Google Retaliates Against Microsoft in the Patent Wars; Microsoft Fights Back

Yesterday, Google’s Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond, posted an official statement criticizing Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and others for ganging up against it and carrying out a “a hostile, organized campaign against Android.

Soon after that post went up, Microsoft’s General Counsel, Brad Smith, blasted Google on Twitter.

“Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no.”

Even Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s Corporate Communications Lead chipped in:

“Free advice for David Drummond next time check with Kent Walker before you blog. :)”

Today, Google updated their post with some more facts:

“It’s not surprising that Microsoft would want to divert attention by pushing a false “gotcha!” while failing to address the substance of the issues we raised. If you think about it, it’s obvious why we turned down Microsoft’s offer. Microsoft’s objective has been to keep from Google and Android device-makers any patents that might be used to defend against their attacks. A joint acquisition of the Novell patents that gave all parties a license would have eliminated any protection these patents could offer to Android against attacks from Microsoft and its bidding partners. Making sure that we would be unable to assert these patents to defend Android — and having us pay for the privilege — must have seemed like an ingenious strategy to them. We didn’t fall for it.

Ultimately, the U.S. Department of Justice intervened, forcing Microsoft to sell the patents it bought and demanding that the winning group (Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, EMC) give a license to the open-source community, changes the DoJ said were necessary to protect competition and innovation in the open source software community.This only reaffirms our point: Our competitors are waging a patent war on Android and working together to keep us from getting patents that would help balance the scales.”

Google’s argument is sound – it wouldn’t have been able to defend itself against litigation from Microsoft based on other patents, despite partially paying for those Novell patents, rendering them ineffective for defense.

Google is probably hoping that the DOJ will force Microsoft to sell the Nortel patents, just like it did in the case of the Novell patents. This fight is getting very interesting. I hope Apple issues a comment too.


Frank Shaw from Microsoft is back with some replies.

“Hello again David Drummond. This is going to take a few tweets, so here we go. Let’s look at what Google does not dispute in their reply.”

“We offered Google the opportunity to bid with us to buy the Novell patents; they said no.”

“Why? BECAUSE they wanted to buy something that they could use to assert against someone else.”

“SO partnering with others & reducing patent liability across industry is not something they wanted to help do”

I find his arguments perfectly valid.

From my point of view, the patent system in the U.S. is completely screwed up. Google, Microsoft and the others are just playing the game in the best way that they can. Obviously, Microsoft is doing it much better. And Google is whining because it isn’t winning.

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