Google and Microsoft are slugging it out over social media, as the finest legal minds of both companies grab for the high ground in a tussle over the escalating patent wars.
In a Wednesday blog post called "When patents attack Android", Google's Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond has come right out and accused Microsoft and Apple of conspiring against Google.
"I have worked in the tech sector for over two decades," Drummond writes. "Microsoft and Apple have always been at each other's throats, so when they get into bed together you have to start wondering what's going on."
Drummond goes on to tout his company's success with the Android platform -- talking of activations and devices and apps. There's no mention of market share, which is curious because the previous day's news was full of reports of Android's 40 to 50 percent status. But he is not here to gloat, but to uncover a conspiracy.
"Android’s success has yielded something else," states Drummond, "a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents."
"They’re doing this by banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the “CPTN” group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the “Rockstar” group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them; seeking $15 licensing fees for every Android device; attempting to make it more expensive for phone manufacturers to license Android (which we provide free of charge) than Windows Phone 7; and even suing Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola, and Samsung. Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it...Instead of competing by building new features or devices, they are fighting through litigation."
If Drummond expected that Redmond would pass over his blog in silence, he hadn't counted on Brad Smith, Microsoft General Counsel, who addressed the first example.
"Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google," tweeted Smith. "Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no."
Drummond shot back by calling Smith's response "a false 'gotcha'" and explaining that Google had tuned down Microsoft's offer because Google wanted the protection against litigation that exclusive ownership would offer.
Microsoft again took to Twitter to respond, but in the person of Frank X. Shaw, Corporate Vice President, Corporate Communications for Microsoft.
"This is going to take a few tweets, so here we go. Let’s look at what Google does not dispute in their reply," Shaw wrote. "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."
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