Microsoft sues Motorola over Android smartphones
Microsoft has filed action against Motorola in a US court over alleged patent infringements in connection with Motorola's Android smartphones. Microsoft alleges that Motorola's Android mobile phones violate a total of nine Microsoft patents which cover the synchronisation of emails, calendar items and contacts – meaning they are probably related to Outlook/Exchange – as well as the way in which applications display changes in signal strength and battery status. Whether the lawsuit is directed exclusively against Motorola's Motoblur Android extension or whether further action against other Android vendors could follow wasn't mentioned in Microsoft's press release.
While a blog post by Microsoft's Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Horacio Gutierrez, doesn't offer any further details, it does mention ActiveSync, Microsoft's technology for synchronising smartphones with PCs. Android, as delivered in open source code and to OEMs, doesn't offer direct PC synchronisation and uses internet services instead. Various vendors – including Motorola and HTC – provide software which enables direct data synchronisation via USB. Last April, Microsoft and HTC signed a licence agreement covering the use of Microsoft patents in HTC's Android devices.
According to a related report by Seattle PI, US patent attorney Henry Sneath said that modern products have to use other vendors' technologies to be competitive, and that all smartphone vendors have to "license, copy, imitate or steal someone else's technology".
In recent months, Oracle has filed a patent infringement suit against Google in connection with Android and its use of Java, while HTC has been taken to court by Apple but is also countersuing. Patent blogger Florian Müller thinks that Google must now act constructively and try to work out amicable arrangements with the relevant rights holders.