So yeah, there’s lawsuits over patents flying around everywhere. Apple vs Google, Google vs Microsoft, Microsoft vs Motorola, Everyone vs Oracle; its almost like a merry-go-round where everyone gets a turn to hack and slash at each other until one side decides its had enough.
This latest slap in the face has seen Microsoft win a patent lawsuit against Google in Germany. The Redmond-based company alleged that Google’s subsidiary, Motorola Mobility, infringed on a specific patent that uses a standardised messaging interface to send messages between cellphones. Yes, that means that the Germans who weren’t exactly fans of Google already, decided to hand over Microsoft the key to controlling how multi-part SMS and MMS signals are sent, divided, encrypted, received to the destination device, decrypted and re-assembled in a readable format.
Its an insanely small thing to have patented, but at least its not something that’s ambiguous or all-encompassing like Apple’s design patent lawsuits. This is at least a tangible thing that actually can be shown to work. But while it may look like a small victory, the reality is much bigger. With this ruling, Microsoft can force Motorola to pay license fees for using the patent, finally capturing the last mobile company making Android devices into its patent license scheme. Other companies like HTC, Samsung and even Sony have to pay license fees per device sold to Microsoft because they’re using design interfaces or underlying software that was patented by Microsoft.
Its all a big mess for Google who has two options; 1) Pay out Microsoft per Motorola device sold and continue to use the software as is, or; 2) Pay the fine and rewrite the underlying messaging and encryption layer to something that Microsoft doesn’t own yet and patent that and then redesign all apps that use that interface to send messages. Either way, they’re still paying up and Microsoft still gets to use that patent and many others to continue their trolling against other companies that it sees as competitors. Motorola could also avoid selling mobiles in Germany altogether, but since the patent is registered in the European Patent Register, Microsoft could approach any other country with a regional court order to ban sales, effectively locking Google and Motorola out of Europe entirely.
When is someone going to throw out a case and ask these companies to play nicely instead of waste their time?