Google-Microsoft patents spat turns into public mud fight

Legal executives at Microsoft and Google have continued their acrimonious war of words over patents, with a public spat being played out over Twitter and official blogs.

Google-Microsoft patents spat turns into public mud fight

The dispute erupted yesterday, when Google claimed Microsoft was buying up old patents in a bid to stop Google using certain technologies in its Android mobile OS without paying a fee.

Microsoft hit back, claiming it had asked Google if it wanted to be part of a coalition of tech companies that was buying up Novell patents, but was turned down by the search giant.

Now Google has accused Microsoft of hiding behind a “false gotcha”, claiming that the software giant only invited Google into the alliance so it couldn’t use the patents to defend its Android system.

So partnering with others and reducing patent liability across the industry is not something they wanted to help do

“It’s not surprising that Microsoft would want to divert attention by pushing a false ‘gotcha’,” said David Drummond, Google chief legal officer, in an update on the Google blog.

“It’s obvious why we turned down Microsoft’s offer – Microsoft’s objective has been to keep from Google and Android device-makers any patents that might be used to defend against its attacks,” he said.

“A joint acquisition of the Novell patents that gave all parties a license would have eliminated any protection these patents could offer to Android against attacks from Microsoft and its bidding partners.”

According to Google, such a situation would leave the company unable to assert the patents to defend Android against legal attacks from other companies in the alliance, including Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, EMC.

“And they’d have us pay for the privilege,” Drummond said. “Must have seemed like an ingenious strategy to them. We didn’t fall for it.”

Microsoft: Google wanted patents as weapon

Microsoft rejected the claim and accused Google of hypocrisy in moaning about others buying up patents, while trying to do the same thing itself.

According to Microsoft, Google wanted to use the patents as weapons against other handset manufacturers, rather than create an industry-wide patent treaty.

“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,” said Frank Shaw, head of corporate communications at the software giant, on Twitter.

“So partnering with others and reducing patent liability across the industry is not something they wanted to help do.”

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