The story so far goes something like this; Motorola has been struggling for the past few years to pay the bills and even keep the lights on for their mobility division. This is despite being one of the companies that helped to create mobile phones as we know them today. The problem was (and is) that Motorola waited too long to capitalize on their own ideas and inventions (Much like Kodak did). This is one of the things that made the buyout by Google so attractive to the pioneering company.
The problem is that it would seem that Motorola is now doing some of the things that Google has not been able to (prior to the buyout). The first was going after Apple on their own hook. Although there are still some people that think that Apple is “innocently” protecting their Intellectual Property in the many, many law suits and complaints they have filed, there is no doubt that Apple is trying to stifle competition at every step. They are (and have) engaging in the use of shell companies to buy critical patents and copyrights without paying what those items are actually worth (just like ProView). Before all of you Apple fans kick off the flamethrowers lets me say this. Apple is not the only company that does this (both the aggressive legal battles and the use of shell companies to get what they want on the cheap). There have been many examples of companies that participate in this type of activity (RAMBUS is one that comes to mind).
Getting back to the point; Apple has gone after Google’s Android not by trying to fight with Google, but by attacking the manufacturers of phones that use the Android OS. This had two results; one it gets competing products off the shelves and two it strikes at Google in a way that Google cannot fight back. It really was a brilliant move on Apple’s part.
Now, however, Google is able to fight back by using the extensive patent portfolio that Motorola Mobility has. They have gone after Apple for patent infringement and are asking for reimbursement from them due to the length of time that Apple violated even the original FRAND (Fair Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) licensing. Google has also gone after Microsoft for money with regards to the H.264 video standard again, through Motorola’s patents. According to Microsoft Motorola (pronounce that Google) wanted them to pay more than the CODEC is worth and is far out of proportion to what they pay for other standards based patents.
So we have the back stories and now we can get to the real matter behind all of this; both Microsoft and Apple are concerned about the power that a combined Google/Motorola could wield in the market and the type of pressure that they could apply. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that if you hand Google all of Motorola Mobility’s patents they would have quite the portfolio. This has led Apple and Microsoft to team up against the potential threat that Google would represent.
Apple has launched an Anti-trust complaint against Motorola Mobility over alleged patent abuses (most notably the amount of money they are asking for the use of their standards essential patent for 3G transmission. Apple stands to lose a lot of money is the German courts side with Motorola on this one, but they also realize that they can but a wrench in Google’s plans (even after the EU anti-trust commission approved the merger).
Microsoft would also like to see this merger (again even at this late stage of the game). It is unlikely that this will happen, but if they can plant the seeds now they can also hit Google after the merger and inflict some damage to them (mostly financial) in the same way that both Microsoft and Intel have had happen. So while these two complaints might not get their way in the current patent dispute (Motorola Mobility DOES own the rights to these) we could see formal Anti-Trust complaints filed later that reference these two items. In other words the moves here are both logistical and strategic. If they win now they save money, if they lose they can use them for future action. It is all a game and the fact that Microsoft and Apple are seen as enemies is only an added bonus.
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