Microsoft sues Motorola [Updated]

Microsoft has announced today that it is suing Motorola, citing that the mobile phone maker is infringing nine of Microsoft's patents on its Android devices. The patents referred to cover such things as email, calendar, contact syncing and the technology used to notify applications of the devices signal strength and battery charge.

The allegations have been filed with both the U.S. District Court in Washington and the International Trade Commission (ITC).

Below is the Press Release Microsoft have issued.

Microsoft Files Patent Infringement Action Against Motorola

REDMOND, Wash. - Oct. 1, 2010 - Microsoft Corp. today filed a patent infringement action against Motorola, Inc. and issued the following statement from Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing:

"Microsoft filed an action today in the International Trade Commission and in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against Motorola, Inc. for infringement of nine Microsoft patents by Motorola's Android-based smartphones. The patents at issue relate to a range of functionality embodied in Motorola's Android smartphone devices that are essential to the smartphone user experience, including synchronizing email, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power.

We have a responsibility to our customers, partners, and shareholders to safeguard the billions of dollars we invest each year in bringing innovative software products and services to market. Motorola needs to stop its infringement of our patented inventions in its Android smartphones."

The allegations appear to be a direct attack at Google's Android operating system which Microsoft claimed earlier this year was infringing on some of its own patents. This case comes just weeks before Microsoft is expected to release its own, new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7.

Update: Microsoft have just published an article explaining why they believe they are right to sue Motorola. In the article they discuss that smartphones need to be able to sync such things as emails and contacts which is why "Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, a proprietary technology" was developed by the company. The article also mentions how with the plethora of apps now available on mobile devices the operating system needs to notify these apps about the battery and signal of the device. Microsoft believes that both of the ways in which these technologies are implemented on Motorola's Android device infringe its own patents.

Microsoft conclude the article saying that "[their] action today merely seeks to ensure respect for our intellectual property rights infringed by Android devices; and judging by the recent actions by Apple and Oracle, [they] are not alone in this respect." It seems as though several of the major companies in the tech world have issues with Google's Android operating system and its technologies; this appears to be an increasing trend.

Google offer no protection to licensees of its software whereas Microsoft provides full patent protection to its partners and licensees and will support those companies in many ways.

This is a breaking story and more may follow shortly.

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95 Comments

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Good for microsoft. Apple, Google and others attacked M$ and their products in so many dirty ways like paying someone to sue them or slacking off their products saying they are doing better. Why should they sit back and be the good guy when everyone else gets away by been the bad guy?

I would hazard a guess that something created by Palm back in the day could easily be shown to be prior art making the patent for syncing contacts and whatnot null and void. That's just a guess.

personally, I am on the side of the fence that thinks that software patents are bogus in the first place. Software is just a collection of algorithms expressed in a particular language. If the concept of a software patent is considered to be valid, then writers should be able to patent the ideas in their fiction novels. There would have to be one fantasy novel, one romantic comedy, one war story, one mystery to rule them all. As someone said above, it's absurd.

The last time that Microsoft had sought to sue another major corporation, they had been peeved because a buyout offer was rejected. Well, Microsoft had successfully strong armed Yahoo to gain market share in search. Maybe its time to strong arm Motorola for market share in wireless equipment?

Doesn't it occur to anyone that other people are licensing these patents and motorola is just being cheep here?

Microsoft sued tomtom too (we know how that ended). Was tomtom also a threat to Microsoft mobile business?

AtriusNY said,
Doesn't it occur to anyone that other people are licensing these patents and motorola is just being cheep here?

Microsoft sued tomtom too (we know how that ended). Was tomtom also a threat to Microsoft mobile business?

Well, both Motorola and Tomtom release devices running an OS that competes with Microsoft's own products (in mobile and embedded).

ichi said,

Well, both Motorola and Tomtom release devices running an OS that competes with Microsoft's own products (in mobile and embedded).

Some people claimed Microsoft didn't sue other manufacturers because the others agreed to manufacture windows 7 phones.

While even htc - one microsoft's best buddies paid patent fees for their android devices.

Any way if Microsoft didn't have something competing they wouldn't have relevant patents either..

Imo MS should just stfu. They were split for being a monopoly and they continue to try and monopolize the industry. All because goof ball stole the whole windows idea now MS thinks they can do as they please. They act like they don't copyright infring on stuff. What a joke

flashnuke said,
Imo MS should just stfu. They were split for being a monopoly and they continue to try and monopolize the industry. All because goof ball stole the whole windows idea now MS thinks they can do as they please. They act like they don't copyright infring on stuff. What a joke
First off, Microsoft was split up, or going to be, for a few days. They (the court) changed their mind.

Secondly, Microsoft has a patent, whether you think patents are stupid on software or not, as long as they are the way they are, ALL companies (not just Microsoft, so pull your head out of the kool-aid) will defend those patents.

Of course Microsoft does... You do know at any time Microsoft has some 48 lawsuits on their hands, so don't even think Microsoft isn't getting accused too.

flashnuke said,
Imo MS should just stfu. They were split for being a monopoly and they continue to try and monopolize the industry. All because goof ball stole the whole windows idea now MS thinks they can do as they please. They act like they don't copyright infring on stuff. What a joke

+1.
Their true colors are showing. Microsoft will never change, once dirty always dirty.

day2die said,

Google is no different.
Exactly, the only thing is people give Google the benefit of the doubt or some other lame excuse.

note to myself, become listed company, patent the word and process of "patent", laugh in everyones faces....world domination

Lol. All the fools saying that MS are just after a money grab. They own it, it's their right. They have to make money, and a lot of that money comes from patent licences.

Nashy said,
Lol. All the fools saying that MS are just after a money grab. They own it, it's their right. They have to make money, and a lot of that money comes from patent licences.

Some people are under the impression that MS only collects patents to defend themselves (countersuing if they get sued for patent infringement). You see that excuse every time a new patent gets granted.

It's obvious though that they also use them to collect money and try pushing rivals out of the market.

ichi said,

Some people are under the impression that MS only collects patents to defend themselves (countersuing if they get sued for patent infringement). You see that excuse every time a new patent gets granted.

It's obvious though that they also use them to collect money and try pushing rivals out of the market.


What are you saying? Every company wants money; every company needs money. Microsoft is no different.

day2die said,

What are you saying? Every company wants money; every company needs money. Microsoft is no different.

I'm saying that if you mess with Microsoft's IP without securing a license, MS will sue you as soon as they can gain something substantial from that. And I said it because there's a trend lately of believing that MS won't go aggro with their IP portfolio, as if there was some sort of new, friendly Microsoft.

PotatoJ said,
What a mess, I hope Microsoft loses.

So how is Motorola going to expain using ActiveSync without a license. We all know that Motorola will lost anyway.

Microsoft is doing the right, sensible thing that all patent owners do when infringed, just like how Creative sued Apple a few years ago Apple for infringing UI patents. Who wouldn't sue if someone is earning money with your patented technology without licensing it from you?

Thats really unfair considering Android/Google is being sued by both Oracle and Apple. Apple is suing HTC, Motorola etc. and Microsoft is now sueing Motorola. HTC settled with Microsoft.

Melfster said,
Thats really unfair considering Android/Google is being sued by both Oracle and Apple. Apple is suing HTC, Motorola etc. and Microsoft is now sueing Motorola. HTC settled with Microsoft.

Well, it's Google fault that it doesn't provide patent protection for Android.

day2die said,

Well, it's Google fault that it doesn't provide patent protection for Android.
Google had a reason to do that too, it is quite obvious even Google knows how much patent infringement occurs in Android, so much, they won't even defend it.

How many lawsuits is this against android? I am glad I didn't get android phone. There is simple too much fragmentation and carrier / oem gibberash to contend with.

Android was not a complete grown up technology by Google..its was bought, patchedup, including to compete with WinMob,iPhone,Symbian OS etc....but with a OPEN source tag, they were able to reach mass.
But it doesnt stop some one to pay for a company (like Microsoft for Activesync).
Already Oracle sued google for Java...isnt it?

I want to highlight the important part for people that are just skimming through the story so they can start the bashing : "[...] the ways in which these technologies are implemented on Motorola's Android device infringe its own patents". We're talking about implementations not vague "ideas".

Drunken Beard said,
I want to highlight the important part for people that are just skimming through the story so they can start the bashing : "[...] the ways in which these technologies are implemented on Motorola's Android device infringe its own patents". We're talking about implementations not vague "ideas".

Actual implementations are protected by copyright, not patents. The whole point of software patents is gaining exclusive ownership over the idea behind the implementation so you can sue people no matter how they implement it.

neufuse said,
is this over activesync push and stuff? if so why isn't it licensed? Apple licensed it

Do Apple have to license MS stuff and vica versa? as don't they have agreement to not sue each other inregards to patents?

evo_spook said,

Do Apple have to license MS stuff and vica versa? as don't they have agreement to not sue each other inregards to patents?


Correct. Microsoft and Apple have an agreement to use each others patents without having to license it.

/- Razorfold said,

Correct. Microsoft and Apple have an agreement to use each others patents without having to license it.

I could of sworn that MS wrote the activesync stuff for the iPhone instead of Apple writing it so it was more compatable... at least I remember reading that back in the day

/- Razorfold said,

Correct. Microsoft and Apple have an agreement to use each others patents without having to license it.

Isn't that only over UI as the original case between the two was over the windows UI copieing MacOS etc. I don't know if that extends to "API"s for other things. But w/e, Oracle is sueing, Apple sued, MS now. That's the price you pay if you use a system that doesn't offer you any protection. To this day still Google has not come to HTCs side vs Apple and tried to help them fight have they? If Google doesn't seem to care why should anyone else?

GP007 said,

Isn't that only over UI as the original case between the two was over the windows UI copieing MacOS etc. I don't know if that extends to "API"s for other things. But w/e, Oracle is sueing, Apple sued, MS now. That's the price you pay if you use a system that doesn't offer you any protection. To this day still Google has not come to HTCs side vs Apple and tried to help them fight have they? If Google doesn't seem to care why should anyone else?

I am pretty sure at the end of that lawsuit, the court decided you can't patent or whatever layout and design... It didn't do much to Microsoft, but it was almost the end of Apple.

It isn't that Google doesn't seem to care, it's that it's not Google's problem. The reason Microsoft says 'Android costs more' is because Google won't defend you.

Say you made your own phone, using Android... Any patent infringements that are in Android are not done by Google, YOU (the phone manufacturer) are the one infringing on the patents. The reason is how Google licenses Android. Google merely makes Android, but you have to defend the operating system in court yourself. Which can cost a lot.

On the other hand, Microsoft stands behind OEM's, unlike Google. If Windows is infringing on patents, the accuser will sue Microsoft, even though it is on a Dell, HP, Acer, etc. computer (which is how it should be!), same goes for WP7. If WP7 is accused of patent infringement, the accuser won't sue the phone manufacturer, they will sue Microsoft. Meaning the phone manufacturer has nothing to worry about, as Microsoft will deal with that, meaning it will come out of Microsoft's pocket, unlike with Android.

Anyone can say Microsoft is bad, evil, mean, or whatever, but at least Microsoft sticks up for its partners, for the people that get their products to market, unlike Google, who is supposedly a great and "nice" company. Pfft.

Auwie did dem trashin` motorola ads in times make ms butthurt ? :<

On a serious note , patents are just a mess nowadays . You can't evolve without hitting against a patent .

Software shouldn't have patents IMHO. Its too easy for ANYONE to design software (compared to hardware or other functional physical objects) for a person to claim that something is their idea and their idea only.

Companies shouldn't have exclusive rights to ideas behind software...their own code, sure, they can have full rights to pursue anyone who blatantly copies their code, but not the idea. Its like Ford suing Chevy, Dodge, etc because Ford had an idea for the first pickup truck ever (assuming they did as they were the first around).

Software that achieves similar results that other software does should not hold any water in a lawsuit unless the plaintiff (MS) can prove the defendant (Moto) used MS code to achieve those results.

Nagisan said,
Software shouldn't have patents IMHO...

The whole argument is moot, you do get that right? Software patents ARE here. Should / should not has nothing to do with it. I can see your point but - ultimately, if Motorola created this without licensing EAS (apparently so), they deserve what they get. Until rules change, they get to play by the rules in effect.

BigBoy said,

The whole argument is moot, you do get that right? Software patents ARE here. Should / should not has nothing to do with it. I can see your point but - ultimately, if Motorola created this without licensing EAS (apparently so), they deserve what they get. Until rules change, they get to play by the rules in effect.

I understand that, I am simply stating my opinion in that I do not feel software should have patents, nothing wrong with stating my opinion about it.....

Nagisan said,

I understand that, I am simply stating my opinion in that I do not feel software should have patents, nothing wrong with stating my opinion about it.....

-1

Nagisan said,

I understand that, I am simply stating my opinion in that I do not feel software should have patents, nothing wrong with stating my opinion about it.....

There may be nothing wrong with it, but what good does that do?

Mr aldo said,
There may be nothing wrong with it, but what good does that do?

About as good as any of the other replies here. Or aren't we all allowed to post our opinions?

thealexweb said,
When your intellectual property is being infringed, sue em.

Fixed that for you.
Browsers need to start adding a logic check feature in along with spell check.

thealexweb said,
When you can't beat em, sue em.

I reckon it's Steve's idea to make even with his annual bonus loss.

thealexweb said,
When you can't beat em, sue em.

Doesn't make much sense to have patents if you never defend them. I'd prefer a world without patents, but in the world we have, they have to sue serious infringers. The court will decide if Motorola deserves that label.

omnicoder said,

Fixed that for you.
Browsers need to start adding a logic check feature in along with spell check.

If motorola's Android phones had flopped Microsoft wouldn't have cared less but since Android is dominating Microsoft feels the need to take them down a peg, they lack the strength to do this in the marketplace (for now at least). Anyway the US patent system desperatly needs reforming.

omnicoder said,

Fixed that for you.
Browsers need to start adding a logic check feature in along with spell check.

You could probably implement such a thing in Firefox/Opera/Chrome. IE doesn't even have spell check.

As for this trolling scene from Microsoft, being butthurt can really be a bummer. They're just using scare tactics.

thealexweb said,

If motorola's Android phones had flopped Microsoft wouldn't have cared less but since Android is dominating Microsoft feels the need to take them down a peg,

Agreed. MS had a long time to sue android makers, yet it waited until android was popular, had a good market share, and just as win mobile 7 was on the horizon. This is a clear cut case of trying to eliminate the competition, not protecting intellectual property.

The only solution to this idiocracy, is software patent abolition. I can't think of another industry that has both patent and copyright protection, it's absurd.

Edited by Microsoft_Bob, Oct 2 2010, 1:48am :

omnicoder said,

When your intellectual property might be infringed, wait until the most opportune time to eliminate the competition.

Fixed that for you.
Browsers need to start adding a logic check feature in along with spell check.

Fixed that for you m8.
My browser automatically corrects your errors for me, it's wonderful xD.

thealexweb said,

If motorola's Android phones had flopped Microsoft wouldn't have cared less but since Android is dominating Microsoft feels the need to take them down a peg, they lack the strength to do this in the marketplace (for now at least). Anyway the US patent system desperatly needs reforming.


Are you kidding? Microsoft sue anyone infringing its patent.

thealexweb said,

If motorola's Android phones had flopped Microsoft wouldn't have cared less but since Android is dominating Microsoft feels the need to take them down a peg, they lack the strength to do this in the marketplace (for now at least). Anyway the US patent system desperatly needs reforming.

Who cares about the reason...it's Microsoft IP....Moto sold Win Mo phones so they had access to the patient before now they are using it with someone else's platform.. SUE there asses Microsoft.

Microsoft_Bob said,

Agreed. MS had a long time to sue android makers, yet it waited until android was popular, had a good market share, and just as win mobile 7 was on the horizon. This is a clear cut case of trying to eliminate the competition, not protecting intellectual property.

The only solution to this idiocracy, is software patent abolition. I can't think of another industry that has both patent and copyright protection, it's absurd.

This

Lachlan said,
Is motorola making a Windows Phone 7 device? Maybe they are just sticking android and MS is hitting back

Nah they sued HTC too, but HTC decided to settle out of court.

Lachlan said,
Is motorola making a Windows Phone 7 device? Maybe they are just sticking android and MS is hitting back

HTC, Motorola, LG, Samsung and all the other phone manufacturers should band together and threaten to not support Windows Phone 7. They are the reason Microsoft's software is in use and now they're doing this.

I have respect for patent laws, but I have a feeling this is something very general that would be considered common sense in programming. Does Microsoft own a patent on the X to be used on a close button too?

Lachlan said,
Is motorola making a Windows Phone 7 device? Maybe they are just sticking android and MS is hitting back

A cynical person might question the timing of this considering Motorola hasn't announced a win mobile 7 phone yet xD.

Trueblue711 said,

HTC, Motorola, LG, Samsung and all the other phone manufacturers should band together and threaten to not support Windows Phone 7. They are the reason Microsoft's software is in use and now they're doing this.

I have respect for patent laws, but I have a feeling this is something very general that would be considered common sense in programming. Does Microsoft own a patent on the X to be used on a close button too?


No, because Windows Phone 7 is the next big thing and none of the OEMs (except Motorola) want to miss out on it.

Here we go for another round of stupid vague software patents being "infringed". I swear the patent system should be overhauled to stop this nonsense.

Panda X said,
Here we go for another round of stupid vague software patents being "infringed". I swear the patent system should be overhauled to stop this nonsense.

Whatever...if it was your f-ing patent you ass would do the samething...hypocrite

yardman said,

Whatever...if it was your f-ing patent you ass would do the samething...hypocrite

Nope. I wouldn't patent that ****.

Panda X said,
Here we go for another round of stupid vague software patents being "infringed". I swear the patent system should be overhauled to stop this nonsense.

Rest easy. In this particular case, the patents actually aren't vague.

Panda X said,
Here we go for another round of stupid vague software patents being "infringed". I swear the patent system should be overhauled to stop this nonsense.

Most of MS's patents, the ones I've seen anyways, are pretty specific.

I think we've seen this coming. HTC settled out of court so maybe they thought there was some merit to MS patent portfolio claims. You have to wonder that with Nokia, MS, Apple, Oracle all suing android makers that there has to be at least some validity to these claims if only some.

welp, this should be interesting.

majg said,
I think we've seen this coming. HTC settled out of court so maybe they thought there was some merit to MS patent portfolio claims. You have to wonder that with Nokia, MS, Apple, Oracle all suing android makers that there has to be at least some validity to these claims if only some.

welp, this should be interesting.

This claim has validity the moment Google licensed MS's ActiveSync tech a year ago or something, most the the IP they're talking about falls into that, so it seems some smart person over at Motorola decided to use their own sync tech and just got suied.

MR_Candyman said,
Is it just me or are they suing Motorola for making smartphones?

I don't think it's you. I believe it's MS that's doing the suing here. ;-)

MR_Candyman said,
Is it just me or are they suing Motorola for making smartphones?

They're not suing Motorola for making the phone, they're suing Motorola for using Android which infringe in many of MS patents.

CarlDilone said,

They're not suing Motorola for making the phone, they're suing Motorola for using Android which infringe in many of MS patents.


From the quote I will post below, ANY smart phone will be infringing on these patents. So ya, me stating they are suing for making a smart phone is pretty justified.
The patents at issue relate to a range of functionality embodied in Motorola's Android smartphone devices that are essential to the smartphone user experience, including synchronizing email, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power.

MR_Candyman said,
Is it just me or are they suing Motorola for making smartphones?

No, Microsoft is suing Motorola for using Android and it really is Google's and Motorola's faults. Sure, Windows Phone 7 probably infringed on tons of patent, but Microsoft is providing patent protections for OEMs. It's Google's fault that it doesn't and for Motorola to use it.

still1 said,
Hundred years from now you will have to pay 100 companies royalties to make a lighter.
Yeah, right... Because you know patents NEVER expire...