Google hits back at Microsoft's 'ironic' EU antitrust complaint

Microsoft joins Apple in whinging to the European Commission about Motorola Mobility patent fees.
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Google slams Microsoft for EU antitrust claim, calling the move ironic "given their track record in this area and collaboration with patent trolls."

Microsoft has joined Apple in an complaint to EU authorities that soon-to-be-acquired Motorola is charging too much for a raft of patents related to existing standards. The hefty price of the patents is, in effect, part of the IP wars that have dogged the mobile industry.

"We haven't seen Microsoft's complaint, but it's consistent with the way they use the regulatory process to attack competitors," a Google spokesman said in a statement.

Indeed it is tempting to view the move as hypocritical given that Microsoft has strong armed Android phonemakers to pay the firm millions of dollars in licensing claimed IP. More, in fact, than the firm charges to provide Windows Phone. So far only Nook-maker Barnes and Noble has chosen to challenge the fees in court.

That said, the EU complaint is about patents related to standards such as the H264 video compression standard. Patents used in standards generally are administered by patent pools under so-called fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND).

Indeed that's what should happen with the Motorola Mobility patents and the European Commission Vice President and competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia announced in November last year that the escalation of the mobile patent wars into patents involved in mobile standards such as 3G would be subject to an EU investigation.

By contrast, the hefty fees asked by Microsoft are part of no official standard so they can charge what they like and given low market share of Microsoft's Windows Phone business, licensing IP to the colossal Android ecosystem is likely to be far more lucrative.

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