Google lashes out at Microsoft, Nokia over alleged patent trolling
1st Jun 2012 | 21:39
Canadian patent holdings company MOSAID is trolling for Microsoft and Nokia, says Google
Google filed a regulatory complaint with the European Commission accusing Microsoft and Nokia of using their arsenal of mobile patents to raise costs to consumers.
Google alleges that Microsoft and Nokia colluded to "patent troll" the industry by hiring a third company, Canadian patent holdings firm MOSAID, to rigorously enforce patents across the mobile industry.
Google also shared their filing with the U.S. Justice Department and the FTC.
In September last year, Nokia reportedly sold 2,000 wireless patents to MOSAID, a company that makes billions collecting royalties from such patents.
MOSAID takes a third of the royalties and gives the rest to the patents' original holders, in this case Microsoft and Nokia.
Microsoft and Nokia respond
Microsoft and Nokia have made statements in response to TechRadar's queries.
"Google is complaining about patents when it won't respond to growing concerns by regulators, elected officials and judges about its abuse of standard-essential patents," a Microsoft spokesperson said.
"And it is complaining about antitrust in the smartphone industry when it controls more than 95 percent of mobile search and advertising," the statement continued. "This seems like a desperate tactic on their part."
Nokia responded that Google's assertion of collusion between Nokia and Microsoft is "wrong," and that both companies engage in these disputes independently.
"Nokia has made regular patent divestments over the last five years. In each case, any commitments made for standards essential patents transfer to the acquirer and existing licenses for the patents continue," a Nokia spokesperson told TechRadar.
"Had Google asked us," the statement continued, "we would have been happy to confirm this, which could then have avoided them wasting the commission's time and resources on such a frivolous complaint."
But who's trolling who?
MOSAID estimated the spoils from Nokia and Microsoft's patents could add up to $1 billion in revenue for the company over the next decade, implying that they plan to rake in at least $3 billion overall, since MOSAID only takes a third of such royalties.
The Ottawa-based company is currently engaged in a patent suit with Apple in a Texas federal court.
At least 1,200 of the patents acquired from Nokia and Microsoft are reported to be "essential" for the operation of 2G, 3G and 4G mobile devices.
"Nokia and Microsoft are colluding to raise the costs of mobile devices for consumers, creating patent trolls that side-step promises both companies have made," said Google, who recently came out ahead in a copyright suit brought by Oracle.
"They should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices," the statement continues.
Microsoft made a similar claim against Google over Google's purchase of Motorola earlier this year, so Google's current complaint could merely be a response to that.
What's clear is that many tech giants these days would rather focus on playing an elaborate game of "he said, she said" than on innovation and honest competition.