Microsoft Files Complaint Against Motorola

 Microsoft announced that it filed a formal complaint with the European Commission against Motorola Mobility (and Google, who is in the process of purchasing Motorola), so as to prevent the vendor from blocking sales of Windows PCs, Xbox game console and other products.
Apparently, Motorola is unhappy with the fact that these devices provide users with the possibility to view videos on the Web or to wirelessly connect to the Internet using industry standards. 

“You probably take for granted that you can view videos on your smartphone, tablet, PC, or DVD/Blu-ray player and connect to the Internet without being tied to a cable,” Dave Heiner, vice president and deputy general counsel, corporate standards and antitrust group, Microsoft, notes.
“That works because the industry came together years ago to define common technical standards that every firm can use to build compatible products for video and Wi-Fi. 

“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.”

However, it appears that Motorola has changed its mind on the matter, Dave Heiner notes. The company reportedly broke the aforementioned promise and plans on using the patents it holds in the area to kill video on the Web. 

Motorola has already filed legal proceedings in the United States and Europe, asking for Microsoft to take its products off the market, or to strip them of the ability to play video and connect wirelessly. 

Microsoft notes that Motorola is basing its actions on the fact that these products feature implementations of industry standards on which it claims to be holding patents. 

“Watching video on the Web is one of the primary uses of computers these days. And we’ve all grown accustomed to “anytime, anywhere” access to the Internet, often made possible by the Wi-Fi standard,” Dave Heiner continues. 

“Imagine what a step back it would be if we could no longer watch videos on our computing devices or connect via Wi-Fi, or if only some products, but not others, had these capabilities. That would defeat the whole purpose of an industry standard.”

Microsoft also notes that it is determined not to seek injunctions against other companies on the basis of standard essential products, and that other industry players such as Apple and Cisco made similar promises. Google however, the new owner of Motorola, did not make such a statement.

“There is an obvious way out of all this. Motorola should honor its promises, and make its standard essential patents available on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory (FRAND) terms,” Heiner notes. 

“Microsoft is certainly prepared to pay a fair and reasonable price for use of others’ intellectual property. Within just the past few years, Microsoft has entered into more than a thousand patent licenses. We know how it’s done.”

The quarrel is over the H.264 video standard, which is implemented on over 2,300 patents from a group of 29 companies. 50 of these patents come from Motorola.


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