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Motorola Countersues Microsoft Over 16 Patents 62

FlorianMueller writes "As if there weren't already enough patent suits related to smartphone technologies, Motorola just announced its widely anticipated countersuit against Microsoft. Its subsidiary Motorola Mobility filed complaints with two US District Courts (Southern District of Florida and Western District of Wisconsin). Motorola already litigates with Apple in those and other courts. According to Motorola, the patents relate to technologies in the fields of operating systems, video codecs, email, instant messaging, object-oriented software architectures, WiFi, and graphical passwords. Motorola claims Windows, the Live messenger, Windows Phone, Outlook and other Microsoft products infringe. Motorola's action is no surprise given that all of the companies sued over patent infringement by Android — with the exception of Google — have already countersued."
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Motorola Countersues Microsoft Over 16 Patents

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  • Pew Pew Pew... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:33AM (#34195970)

    Its like a giant space battle.. but involving black suits, lots of money and lawyers.

    Here's hoping none of them are taken seriously in the courts and all these silly, strategic patents are called what they are, invalid and worthless. (And hope that the technology, on whomevers side doesn't suffer)

    One can hope right?

    • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

      "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -Oscar Wilde

    • by Magada ( 741361 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:42AM (#34196106) Journal

      Aye! The patent Armageddon our forefathers have predicted is finally coming to pass. Take heart, brothers and sisters, and let the mighty beasts wail and crash each other asunder, for though there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, aye, and many a lost source of income, we will be there at the end, to wage battle with the last, greatest Patent Troll left standing and umm... sic the anti-trust hounds upon it? Again? Oh, wait...

    • Re:Pew Pew Pew... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mea37 ( 1201159 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @11:39AM (#34196728)

      So, do you have particular insight into these patents to back your claim that they are invalid and worthless?

      Or are you one of those people who really thinks patents shouldn't exist, but won't just admit it?

      Or perhaps you think you get to stipulate the terms of how a patent must be used for it to be valid and have worth, even though the system of patent laws intentionally doesn't do so?

      • The reality is that 99% of all software patents are bogus because they fail the tests of being novel, non-trivial, and non-obvious. 90% of them fail all three tests. The problem is that the patent offices are completely incompetent. The simplest fix is to get rid of all software patents.
    • Patent War I (Score:3, Interesting)

      More than hope. I really do think this is the beginning of the end for software patents.

      You have these multibillion dollar companies with gigantic patent portfolios. The implied threat is there. "Don't sue us, or you'll get it in return." And the big players don't sue each other over trivial things that infringe because of the threat of mutually assured destruction. That's always been the rule, until recently.

      Gigantic forces in reserve, a tangled web of alliances, then a single shot fired [] is what s

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mea37 ( 1201159 )

        And yet, WWI didn't end guns and bombs; it merely killed a lot of people. So you draw an analogy to this conflict, where the "weapons" are patents, and think the battle will put an end to the weapon?

        This isn't the first, or the last, time that a group of large companies get into a mess where each alleges the other is infringing patents, and it's not the first, or the last, where all probably have some valid claims. If the MAD analogies that keep flying around were valid, and with the first shot fired, you

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Granted it's not a perfect analogy; I didn't use a car.

          But I still think there are enough points in common to draw a parallel. A tangled web of alliances, a stockpiling of resources, and itchy trigger fingers.

          But you're right - patents aren't bombs. That's why I predict a different outcome. How many patents are some of these companies sitting on? IBM is granted about 4000 per year. [] And now we're seeing squabbles involving a few dozen.

          This can't do anything but escalate.

          The next idea will be "Th

        • These companies have done nothing but move their standoff from a theoretical issue hidden in their file drawers to a practical matter in court filings. I predit they will reach an agreement where all are licensed to use all of the technology involved, maybe with payments from one to another if there seems to be an imbalance in overall contribution to the IP pool, and that will be that.

          I hear this argument often, but I don't quite understand it. Consider this.

          Patents are public. Therefore, before you sue someone over your patents, you can - and should! - check if they own any which they may counter-sue you on.

          Furthermore, before you even sue, you'll probably reach out privately first and make your offer, be it royalties or cross-licensing agreement or whatever. If they feel it's the best they can hope for, they'll take it. We've seen that in practice in Microsoft vs HTC. And if they feel

  • by dyfet ( 154716 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:37AM (#34196034) Homepage

    While not covered well in the press, like IXI, Motorola is also demanding that Microsoft stop shipping "infringing" products, though in this case they speak of virtually the entire Microsoft product line. This can become very interesting. I think Microsoft picked on the wrong company to try and bully and run it's protection racket on this time. They seem to have inherited SCO's footgun...

    • by frinkster ( 149158 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @11:07AM (#34196376)

      While not covered well in the press, like IXI, Motorola is also demanding that Microsoft stop shipping "infringing" products, though in this case they speak of virtually the entire Microsoft product line. This can become very interesting. I think Microsoft picked on the wrong company to try and bully and run it's protection racket on this time. They seem to have inherited SCO's footgun...

      It will be an interesting fight. Don't forget that RIM sued Motorola, Motorola sued back, and they settled the suits out of court confidentially but with a couple pieces of information released to the public:

      The financial terms of the Agreement include an up-front payment and ongoing royalties to Motorola. Further terms and conditions of the Agreement are confidential. []

      So yes, it is possible that Microsoft picked the wrong company to bully. RIM certainly did. Motorola has been doing high-tech stuff for a very long time...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      From an outsider's perspective, I saw the MS lawsuit as a thinly disguised attempt to try fight dirty against Android. While some might think Apple is the biggest competitor in the mobile space, it's really Android. Just like the computer market, MS sells their OS primarily through their partners. Unlike the computer market, their partners have a suitable alternative in Android. Android is not completely free (there are things the handset makers agree to in order to use it) but probably much cheaper tha

      • Android is not completely free (there are things the handset makers agree to in order to use it) but probably much cheaper than WM6 was.

        They don't have to agree to anything to use Android at all. If they want to bundle Google software with it and have that device access the Android Market, THEN they need to agree to certain things.

        The Samsung Fascinate had some Google products removed (search and maps) by default and Google STILL allowed them access to everything.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Theaetetus ( 590071 )

      While not covered well in the press, like IXI, Motorola is also demanding that Microsoft stop shipping "infringing" products, though in this case they speak of virtually the entire Microsoft product line. This can become very interesting.

      That's a standard request, and is unlikely to be granted. Because monetary damages are adequate for patent infringement, and because Microsoft isn't a tiny company with no liquid assets, a preliminary injunction is almost certain to be denied.

  • Enough Already (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:43AM (#34196110)
    We need a "Major Player" summit of the largest technology companies. They can all get together, argue over who gets to sit in which chair, what they'll have for lunch (or brunch if they're feeling really ornery) and then have a knockdown-dragout fight over who's giant projector to use during the meetings. That should keep the suits and lawyers busy so the engineers back in the labs can actually get some work done.
    • If a certain CEO of one of the biggest patent trolls are there I imagine he won't be sitting on his chair (he enjoys throwing them apparently...)
    • Until they come out of said meeting with a massive patent sharing agreement that does little but guarantee that there will never be a new competitor in the market ever again.

    • I, for one, welcome our new monopolistic mega-corporate overlords! ~

  • No surprises (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:45AM (#34196124)

    All this patent litigation is going to result in a patent pool, locking new competition out of the smart phone market for 20 years. Hope the tech companies enjoy their little circle-jerk. All it's highlighting to the rest of the world is the stupidity of some of the patents involved.

    • You couldnt have been more right.. it always comes down to a patent pool which is the worst thing that could happen. (e.g. see MPEGLA)
    • The question is who gets to be in the pool. Lots of the established names would love to see a pool without Apple and maybe without Google and Microsoft too. If they are all in the pool, then there will still be a question of how much each patent is worth and who is paying to be a member versus who is paid.
  • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:45AM (#34196126) Homepage

    This is a Mutually Assured Destruction fight, but unlike others with this strategy I'm not going to be hit.

    You would have thought that these Fortune 500 companies would figure out that the only winning move is not to play.

    • The only problem is if you want to make money in any market you have to play ball. That's why patents like these are so destructive to the creative process. It makes it impossible for someone to even want to try to outdo what's out there. The costs involved mean that even if I have a good marketable idea, and the money to develop it and bring it to market, it'll never see the light of day because more than likely I'll never have the money to fight off all the patent trolls out there. That is unless I sel
  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:47AM (#34196144)

    Customer: "I would like to buy a cell phone."

    Seller: "Sure! What are you looking for?"

    Customer: "I would like to buy a cell phone from a company that is neither suing nor being sued by other cell phone cell companies.

    Seller: "Sorry, all serious cell phone manufacturers are either suing, or being sued by other serious cell phone manufacturers."

  • by Jugalator ( 259273 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:49AM (#34196162) Journal

    With Motorola, Mircosoft, Nokia, and Apple having launched various lawsuits and counter-lawsuits against each other, I think that untangling this mess in the proper order is quickly starting to become an NP-complete problem.

  • by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @10:54AM (#34196232)
    Yeah, I could see this sort of thing coming when I heard that the whole point in building up a patent portfolio was to keep others from suing you in some sort of MAD deterrence setup.
    They can't sue us because we'll sue them in retaliation? When has a lawyer EVER said "no, you can't sue them, that'd be stupid"?
  • Anyone know why Motorola chose this court??
  • by awkScooby ( 741257 ) on Thursday November 11, 2010 @11:51AM (#34196870)
    If all of these judges would put temporary injunctions in place, banning the cell makers in their case(s) from selling infringing phones, the cell industry would come to a screeching halt. That's what the cell industry has effectively asked for, by everyone suing everyone else for patent infringement. Just take them all at face value, and stop all of these infringers from shipping anything. These patents are mutually assured destruction, right? Let the MAD begin!
  • This whole cyclic undirected graph of lawsuits with varying levels of reference cycles will never be resolved. At some point pretty soon it'll just deadlock out, unable to move one suit forward because it depends cyclically on another suit.
  • For once , a few of the big boys are at odds with each other, which can only mean profit, for the consumer. As it stands, each time the big ones go at it, they end up going into bloodlusts, that provoke better sales on items that normally are overpriced, and will tend to bring down the overall price point the companies tend to look for....

    M$ vp1>Our 7 phone is not doing well
    M$ vp2>Might be becuase google is coming out with android and apple is too
    M$ vp1>We also have those nasty patents cases coming

  • “In industries where the dynamics of technological change display a cumulative and incremental character, the protection of “commons” of freely accessible knowledge is likely to yield much higher rates of innovation than the enforcement of strong intellectual property rights.” - A. Nuvolari
  • The cell phone industry was going along just fine until outsiders started to use there weapon of choice "Patents" Apple,MS,Google are outsiders who bought there way into the cell phone industry. I should have been a lawyer because when its all said and done there the ones laughing all the way to the bank.
  • Here's some background on this and other phone cases:

    *,_USA) []
    * []
    * []

    Besides phones being a growth market, this problem is aggravated by the fact that a bunch of big hardware companies are suddenly in the same market as a bunch of big software companies. Unlike their usual competitors, these buy guys don't yet have patent non-aggression pacts, so they just go t

  • Well, we all knew that patents have been used in business as a nuclear deterrent against being sued for patent infringement. But now that someone has broken their "cold war" stance, we are seeing a nuclear crossfire that is just about to get interesting.

    After we see all this going on, perhaps we will see some of the big players come out against software patents to end the chaos. It's going to become very expensive... even for the big players.

  • Because the judicial system is paid for by you, the taxpayer. So instead of doing important things, like processing violent crime, the courts get DDOSed now by a bunch of companies who like to play games with the system and you pay for it to happen.
  • by VortexCortex ( 1117377 ) <.moc.edargorter- ... . .xetroCxetroV.> on Thursday November 11, 2010 @02:43PM (#34199018)

    Finally, they've decided to use these patents for their intended purpose, to stifle innovation!

    If only the PTOs publicly advertised patents as munitions against competition instead of insurance for inventors, it would simplify the whole process...

    Judge: Everyone, roll for initiative. Ok, Motorola, your OOP patent does 2D8 x 10 million dollars of damage, and has a litigation speed of 8. Microsoft, what's your armor class?

  • Is this where Bill Gates has to hand back all his ill gotten gains and call it a wrap, move back into a garage? One that opens automatically when the owner approaches the door?

  • Microsoft already patented the 4th least significant bit, thereby blocking your ability to file suit over 16 patents. Just drop one and you'll be ok.

  • For those who didn't live through the Cold War, MAD stands for "Mutually Assured Destruction." Just like the Cold War, and for that matter WW-I, everyone in the tech industry has been stockpiling weaponry (patents) for years in order to protect themselves from each other. The argument for the situation is always that only a lunatic would dare upset the status quo. Unfortunately, it only takes one lunatic.

In English, every word can be verbed. Would that it were so in our programming languages.