Two more wireless companies sue each other.
Motorola (MOT) has worked with Microsoft over the years producing smartphones like the Motorola Q. Last year however, with Motorola’s stock tanking and Microsoft (MSFT) offering nothing in the way of modern operating systems, CEO Sanjay Jha announced that they were ‘all in’ on Android. Since that time, Motorola has had some significant success, particularly with their Droid line-up. Motorola this year snubbed Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 7 platform, sticking with Android.
But Microsoft doesn’t take a breakup that easily. Today they filed a suit with the ITC over patents involving “synchronizing e-mail, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power.” They signaled out Motorola and Android although the suit is technically directed at Motorola.
To put it more bluntly, they are suing Motorola but they are after Android.
My view is that this is a warning shot: Let this be a lesson to HTC, LG and Samsung who are launching Windows 7 phones this month. If those companies consider abandoning Microsoft for Android, they’ll likely be on the wrong end of another lawsuit.
To prove this view, take HTC’s case. A few months ago, Microsoft backed up HTC in its Android litigation against Apple (AAPL). Apple sued HTC in much the same way Microsoft is suing Motorola. Which makes Microsoft counsel Horacio Gutierrez’s statement on the Motorola suit all that more confusing:
So the message from Microsoft is: If you build Windows 7 Series phones, we’ll protect you from Android suits. However, if you don’t build phones for us, we’ll sue you ourselves!
Update: a Google spokesperson told me in a statement: “We are disappointed that Microsoft prefers to compete over old patents rather than new products. Sweeping software patent claims like these threaten innovation. While we are not a party to this lawsuit, we stand behind the Android platform and the partners who have helped us to develop it.”
Here’s a breakdown of the patents:
- 5,579,517: Common name space for long and short filenames
- 5,758,352: Common name space for long and short filenames (yes, again)
- 6,621,746: Monitoring entropic conditions of a flash memory device as an indicator for invoking erasure operations
- 6,826,762: Radio interface layer in a cell phone with a set of APIs having a hardware-independent proxy layer and a hardware-specific driver layer
- 6,909,910: Method and system for managing changes to a contact database
- 7,644,376: Flexible architecture for notifying applications of state changes
- 5,664,133: Context sensitive menu system/menu behavior
- 6,578,054: Method and system for supporting off-line mode of operation and synchronization using resource state information
- 6,370,566: Generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device
Press release follows: