Microsoft sues Motorola over Android patent infringements


Posted by Horacio Gutierrez
Corporate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel

As many of you may have seen, Microsoft filed an action today in the International Trade Commission and in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington against Motorola, Inc. for infringement of nine Microsoft patents by Motorola’s Android-based smartphones.  We have released a press statement about our suit, but I thought I would provide a bit more context here around the innovations infringed by Motorola’s Android-based smartphones and how our suit fits into ongoing developments in the smartphone space.

As we all know, smartphones have become an integral part of people’s daily lives and are used for a variety of tasks beyond making phone calls; from watching video and listening to music to staying in touch with family and friends. The Microsoft innovations at issue in this case help make smartphones “smart.”  Indeed, our patents relate to key features that users have come to expect from every smartphone.  The ability to send and receive email on-the-go has driven smartphone adoption.  Nowadays, everyone expects to receive e-mail from multiple services in real time, to read it on their phones, and to reply or send new messages out – in continuous and seamless synchronization with their email services.  Microsoft’s Exchange ActiveSync, a proprietary technology that we developed, makes this possible. 

But people manage more than email from their devices, they manage their lives.  Users can not only send and receive email from smartphones; they can also manage their calendars.  Their phones will remind them of appointments and allow them to schedule new ones.  Similarly, users maintain lists of contacts on their phones, so that they can easily stay connected – by phone, text message, or email – to the people they interact with most.  Again, our technology enables people to see their calendar and email contacts on their phone, and to manage their calendar and contacts from whatever device they are using.

People use smartphones for much more as well:  they surf the web, play music and videos, and run apps.  Consumers expect more and more from their smartphones every day, making their phones resemble not so much a phone as a handheld computer.  Of course, for certain apps to run efficiently on handheld devices, they must be notified of changes in signal strength and battery power and the device must manage memory for storing data.  Given the wide range of functionality smartphones offer, they also need to be able to display relevant choices for users efficiently.  Microsoft’s patented technologies tackle all of these challenges.

That Microsoft has important patents in this area should not surprise anyone – we’ve spent over 30 years developing cutting-edge computer software.  As I mentioned in my blog post last March, the key value proposition of smartphones has moved from the radio stack to the software stack, as people buy smartphones because they are fully functional computers that fit in the palm of your hand.  With this shift, it is imperative that companies address IP issues related to the software that makes possible this new class of devices.  The rules of the road are long-established in the software industry, and fundamental to the industry’s growth and economic impact is respect for others’ intellectual property rights. 

Our action today merely seeks to ensure respect for our intellectual property rights infringed by Android devices; and judging by the recent actions by Apple and Oracle, we are not alone in this respect.

Comments (122)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Too bad they can't actually offer their phone manufacturers a product that won't get them sued.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Feel sorry for you. After being left in the dark with Windows CE (2000) and WM 5.0 (2007) due to upward compatible issues with apps for PIM synchronisation, and difficulties getting my hotmail on them, I recently turned to Blackberry and Android. From the latter I have discovered Google mobile apps for my PIM synchronisation. Great experience, gives the freedom I always wanted. Even have a gmail account now to act as the master for my PIM. You lost me, who will follow next …  

    Advice: You better catch up with the rest, instead of starting another paper trail !

  3. thewatcher says:

    As a general rule, I believe that software patents are inheritently evil. If a piece of software is good, it should be improved upon by the competition to keep us all advancing; otherwise, we'll just sit on our laurels because we'll have no competition and thus little motivation to take on big challenges. I've seen it happen many times: we become complacent and inefficient, and then someone comes by and shakes us out of our stupor by competing with us. Competition is awesome for the end user.

    If they have to exist, I feel that a software patent should last no more than 2 years. That's time enough to get paid for a great product, and then it's time to get motivated again prove that we're still worth something.

  4. HJJ says:

    Totally agree with the watcher.  Keep moving forward.  Improving on ideas is what keeps us all interested in the next big thing.  Its only natural!

  5. --Z-- says:

    "That Microsoft has important patents in this area should not surprise anyone".

    This is true. And neither should it surprise anyone that Microsoft choses to use legal force to try and milk the market for money rather than competing with decent products. Software patents are universally reviled for moves just like this one, and it just reinforces that Microsoft deserves the bad reputation they've cultivated.

  6. Tom H says:

    More evidence that the Patent system is completely broken when it comes to software. The only innovation that is being driven is among lawyers and patent filers. How much are Windows Phone 7 and Android users going to have to add on to the cost of their phones to subsidize this madness?

  7. thenonhacker says:

    All the guys above: Patents will not stop other companies from using them, they simply need to license them, Not steal them. That's how it works.

    Synchronization Technology on Mobile Phones is a patented invention, an invention that didn't exist before, but today looks ordinary. And so the fallacy of "Software Patents Are Evil" come into place, when in this case, it's a valid lawsuit.

    And BTW, Google and Sun did their own lawsuits, too, and yet no one complained. It's business guys, all companies protect their turf. You know you would, too, when you have your own business and inventions.

  8. Steve says:

    Agree with TheWatcher's comments here too.  Blanket patents for basic functionality are just money grabs.  If you have an improved algorithm, etc. then a short patent on that is fine.  But to blanket patent 'a hand-held device that syncs email' is so far reaching it is unavoidable by almost any hand-held device maker in the future.

  9. Ginger says:

    I believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny. But that has no effect in a court of law, *either*.  

    However, since software patents are evil, perhaps we can convince Google to give up theirs regarding search. As a good will gesture to the community of computer users, who only want good for all.  Free and open. Then we can all live in peace and harmony with the unicorns.

  10. Brian says:

    "Synchronization Technology on Mobile Phones is a patented invention, an invention that didn't exist before, but today looks ordinary."

    Please. It's yet another example of taking common techniques already in use, appending "over the Internet" or "on a phone", and pretending you've "invented" a brand new idea that nobody else could have. Yes, the lawsuit is "valid", which just shows how broken the patent system is.

  11. Steve says:

    There are obviously ulterior motives here.  Why is Microsoft not filing suit against Google, Samsung, and HTC as well?  They are all large players in the Android market.  Seems to me Motorola is being picked on for some specific reason… maybe because Motorola is the only manufacturer above that hasn't announced a Windows Mobile 7 phone.   Funny that.

  12. thenonhacker says:

    Google sues on patents and trademarks, too. More evil, actually:

    Google Secures Broad Patent (OR "Blanket Patent", guys) for Location-Based Advertising. mashable.com/…/google-location-advertising-patent

    "Google is involved in a lawsuit over the name of the Android OS which the firm is backing as part of the Open Handset Alliance." http://www.cellular-news.com/…/37291.php

    "Google Sues Oregon Company Over Patents for Online Traffic Maps." WHAT? That is stifling innovation, in terms of what you guys are rationalizing now! http://www.principalwebsolutions.com/…/google-sues-oregon-company-over-patents-for-online-traffic-maps-bloomberg

    Google is like: a pot calling the kettle, black.

  13. thewatcher says:

    I agree with TheWatcher. Oh, wait. I am TheWatcher. Never mind. 🙂

    Yes, I realize that patents *can* be licensed if the owner chooses to license them. And I also realize that patent licenses are often used for negotiating purposes: "Dude, I'll let you use mine if you let me use yours." But that has a way of fostering exclusionary practices such as getting the big guys to team up and push the little guys out. And when it's the little guys that are the most motivated to put forth an improved solution (hey, everyone has to eat), it sure seems that practices around software patents may be good for business but bad for the community.

  14. Nitpick says:

    'cutting-edge' software, for some value of 'cutting-edge'…

  15. brt says:

    Spin, spin, spin, Mr. Gutierrez. Having utterly failed in the market for mobile devices, your company's desperate attempt to use the legal system to shore up your inability to develop compelling, cost effective products is not fooling anyone. Thank you for publicly confirming the EPIC FAIL that is Microsoft today.

  16. dood says:

    Where are all of you when companies sue MS?  Where are all of you when Google, Apple, Oracle et al. sue folks?

    If you re-read the post there specific technologies that are in play.  They may be the way Moto is using them, hence suing Moto rather than Goog.  just sayin' is all.

  17. InResponseToBrian says:

    @Brian: "It's yet another example of taking common techniques already in use"

    How do you know it's common? have you actually read all nine patents and their implementation details? Microsoft is doing what Google, Yahoo, IBM, or any other companies would do, protecting their intellectual property. Like it says.. intellectual PROPERTY. It's a property.

    Plus, having an idea patented doesn't mean that there no longer will be improvements. Usually, patent owners improve their initial patented ideas to keep their ideas to be "up-to-date".

    I do agree that software patents in general does negate competitions; however, it forces others to think outside of the box and come up with other ways to do the same job. If ideas are not patented, you can expect people to just copy each other's ideas. This doesn't necessarily improve the technology and the community.

    You don't always have to use Microsoft ways to sync mobile phones. If you have different implementation details, Microsoft can't win the lawsuit. Exchange [Sync] technology, from what I have seen and read, is a pretty neat technology. Microsoft has spent tremendous time and money on it probably.

    Anyway… lawsuits are lawsuits. It's never pretty. Google has been suing companies left and right…they just do it under the radar…because they "don't do evil" At least, Microsoft doesn't hide its evil side.

  18. KD says:

    Very conspicuous timing indeed … and why stop at Motorola … why not sue your other partners Samsung, LG, HTC after all they also have a huge Android portfolio. Could it be Microsofts way of forcing Motorola to jump on Windows 7 band-wagon. Cannot think of any other reason …. really what a farcical patent system.

  19. HateMicrosoft says:

    What do you expect from Microsoft?  They have failed miserably in the phone market so now they are suing everyone. The really sad part is Bill Gates was against patents when Microsoft started out, and now Microsoft is one of if not the biggest patent trolls out there.

    I can not wait to watch Windows Phone 7 fail in the marketplace because it is a crappy phone which tries to copy Apple again. Apple should sue Microsoft for copying everything they have ever done.  As should Google for Microsoft copying Google search.

  20. pavera says:

    thenonhacker, you must be an idiot.

    Yes Google has an overly broad patent on location based advertising, however, they haven't sued anyone to date about it.  The other two lawsuits are companies that have SUED GOOGLE (one over patent infringement, and one over trademark infringement) not people google has sued.  None of your evidence supports your claim that google is out  using the legal system to stifle innovation.  

    Please read the articles if you're going to act like you know something idiot.

  21. thewatcher says:

    By the way, I'm not faulting Microsoft in this situation. They are just playing the game as it has been established. Because the game involves using patent licenses as commodities, this is a good business decision and it will likely help them continue to play legitimately and create relevant products: if they don't play the game, they'll be at a disadvantage because the rest of the industry is playing it.

    What I fault is the whole notion of software patents. As I've seen, developers often reach the same or similar ideas as they devise solutions to problems. Occasionally you'll get completely novel solutions (possibly drug-induced), but more often then not, given the same raw information, more than one developer is likely to hit upon the same solution. Software patents often reward the first company to try to patent the idea and force others to have to give up their own original thinking. It causes software companies to try to patent everything under the sun, whether or not they are truly novel approaches.

  22. Eric says:

    blanket patents should be gotten rid of, the idea of syncing email is so broad and vague, no one should have a patent on it. Just like ibm shouldn't have a patent on the process of making a sandwitch. microsoft should have a patent on active sync software and no one should be allowed to build on that code directly, thats as far as it should go. What if someone patented on the idea of monitors and no one else could make them. that would be incredibly lame and computers would not be the same today.

  23. Bruce says:

    So a long-term customer (Motorola) decides your shiny new mobile OS platform (Win 7 Mobile) is not worth developing and selling to consumers so you sue them over patents on other platforms.  Wow.  Win 7 Mobile is already that dead eh?

  24. thewatcher says:

    No need for name calling, really. thenonhacker has some good points. The industry is law-suit crazy. Companies often feel they *have* to sue, or they risk losing the ability to make money on their inventions. I think what really needs to change is how Software Patents are handled, including their duration. If that changes, the industry will have to adjust its business practices. Maybe for the better. 🙂

  25. TonyStrang says:

    Obviously Microsoft has figured out that they cannot compete in the smartphone market.  So isn't it easier to just bully everyone else.

    Instead of complaining, why not go out and make a smartphone better than everyone elses.  Including the guys over at Apple who have been kicking your butts for about 5 years now.

  26. hooya says:

    > we’ve spent over 30 years developing cutting-edge computer software

    and about as long screwing over others. oops, my bad, I think MS calls it "innovation".

    google "sendo".

  27. La Raza Affirmative Action Committee says:

    This guy creeps me out.  Isn't there some drug cartel boss he can go sneer at instead of Motorola?

  28. Lawyerswillbecontactingyou says:

    Because I have a patent on using a microprocessor based computer to communicate hardware information to software.  So your specific claim of battery and signal information falls under my more overly broad patent.  Ha-Ha.

  29. Pointe says:

    It must hurt to know Microsoft isn't truly "innovating" anything anymore, except for conceptual technologies that will never go mainstream.  So in order to satisfy the investors you sue over old technology which have become industry standard.  Your position in the technology industry is clearly hurting when you sue over features found in open source software.  It's time Microsoft start pumping out the commits vs. flexing that portfolio.

  30. arstechnica.com/…/strange-bedfellows-eff-apache-back-microsoft-in-patent-dispute.ars

    Patent reform on one hand, abuse in the other. Seriously, you can't make this stuff up.

  31. Martin Mareš says:

    Synchronization of anything on a mobile phone is not worth calling an "invention". It is a completely straightforward application of principles which are well known in the computer science community since the 1970's, or maybe even longer. Anybody who patents something like that is either grossly incompetent or a patent troll, or possibly both. As usually, the US patent examiners have proved that their knowledge of the state of the art is close to zero.

  32. Erik says:

    Winmo 7 is DOA.

    Only AT&T.

    Can't upgrade current 6.5 phones, must buy new phone. Hey they don't need to keep your crap. It's no longer an upgrade decision, it is now a new phone decision. Did I mention only AT&T where you are up against iPhone and Blackberry Torch? What a bone headed decision.

    What do companies do that can't compete? They sue of course. Good luck with those patents in this post Re Bilski world.

    Not surprised by MS where they've been buying their innovation for the past 20 years.

  33. MaDMaN says:

    I'm sorry, but this is so full of crap… email synchronisation, really ?

  34. Carlos says:

    Wait… it was not Microsoft CEO who declared that they will NEVER EVER USE THEIR PATENT PORTFOLIO IN AN OFFENSIVE STYLE? That they will ONLY USE IT TO DEFEND AGAINST PATENT TROLLS?

    Sure, you are allowed to change course, but dont ask us to eat all your spin.

    Software Patent are absurd. You should be able to protect your IP based on the way the ActiveSync sync with A VERY SPECIFIC SET OF SOFTWARE, but you dont need a PATENT for that, you only need Copyright and Licenses. You and No one should be able to claim ownership on the IDEA of contacts been synchronized between two hosts in any way that doesn't include ActiveSync.

    And, as a matter of fact, you are not able to do it. You are allowed to try to pry my Android from my cold dead hands, but I guarantee you will not succeed. You may but I highly doubt be able to stop another global corporation to do this, but I guarantee you that if you succeed there will be many others doing it, and many from outside your ridiculous jurisdictional system. What you will probably get is some kind of lump sum and or some kind of agreement between to companies trading their mostly useless imaginary friends.

    My recommendations to you is not be afraid of a better product, just try to out innovate your competitions instead of grabbing so desperately to your past

  35. phillipsjk says:

    thenonhacker wrote:

    "All the guys above: Patents will not stop other companies from using them, they simply need to license them, Not steal them. That's how it works."

    Patent holders are allowed to withhold patent licenses from competitors and manufacture the patented device^Wtechnology exclusively until the patent expires. Independent development is not a defence, and granted patents are presumed valid, even in the face of prior-art (because you are not a patent-examiner after-all).

    In the long run, it doesn't matter. However, such shenanigans prevent high-quality computer systems in my lifetime. Tangent: any software requiring "updates" is not mature and a security risk.

  36. A sesoned MS developer who jumped ship says:

    I was a seasoned MS developer. Worked since early 90s on everything from VC 4.X to Vs .net 2005.

    Mastered technologies like COm, DCOM, Exchange MAPI, WebDAV,…net 2.X,

    But I am tired of you MS for pulling up such antics that ultimately stifles competition.

    For the past 3 years I have been on Ubuntu and java and I have never looked back.

    "30 years of advanced technology" ?? What are you smoking my friend ??

    Your technology is crap. WinX is a joke, with its stupid registry, the crappy NTFS file system and stupid security. As Gosling once said .net is java minus security.

    As I look around me I see a lot of seasoned developers doing the same (ditching you and your stupid technology). You really suck !!!!

  37. AConsultant says:

    This is the kind of assine corporate behavior that leads me to NEVER recommend Microsoft products.

  38. Xoman says:

    Thanks. With this news I have learn that Microsoft already receives licensing fees from HTC and perhaps others. I currently own an HTC Desire with Android 2.2 which I am very pleased with. I am not pleased though to learn that by buying this phone with that wonderful operating system Android 2.2 some money went to Microsoft purse in the same way the Mafia collects money from "protection racket" from software patents that shouldn't exist.

     I hope that Motorola doesn't yield and sues back or defends itself. If they do that they will get my admiration and surely my next smartphone will be one from Motorola  (with Android of course!)

     Microsoft resorting to this smacks of desperation. I hope you don't succeed.

     I wrote this from my laptop at home which has Kubuntu 10.04.

  39. Cheddarhead says:

    The issue I have with software patents is that companies are patenting ideas not the specific implementation of an idea.

    Synchronizing e-mail on a phone is an idea. The patent should only be on how you accomplish the synchronization, then the next guy can invent a better way of doing the synchronization.

    This is how patents used to work. Now people patent ideas and business processes, locking up an entire class of ideas, for example one click ordering.

  40. Mike L says:

    The problem with the patent system as a whole is that people like Mr. Gutierrez, who is just doing his job, believes both he and his company is in the right- and is not technical enough to realize the fallacy of many software patents like this one. Something like e-mail synchronization is such a basic idea, that no doubt occurred to hundreds if not thousands of engineers at the same time (Google "simultaneous innovation"), that it should by definition never have been patentable in the first place. To the layperson, it would be like patenting the letter A. To a lawyer or C-level executive, however, it sounds like the best thing since sliced bread. On top of this, Microsoft's IP in this area is ActiveSync, one of the worst and trouble-prone protocols that exist for synchronization- unfortunately, even worse than IMAP, DAV, and other more recent implementations. However, because of their patent, the market has been stuck with this old, stale technology that is way beyond its prime. The US patent system is broken, and abused by corporations like Microsoft. Why win in the marketplace when they can win in the courtroom? If not for this patent, Microsoft would have been under market pressure to improve ActiveSync- to the point where it would even be usable, or, hopefully, even be a great piece of technology. Is that so bad? Maybe Microsoft would have actually done something over the past 10-15 years rather than rest on its behind? Maybe we'd still see Windows being used in small-to-midsize corporations, on people's phones, in their homes?

  41. thenonhacker says:

    "Microsoft has figured out that they cannot compete in the smartphone market.  So isn't it easier to just bully everyone else."

    You mean like when Sun sued Microsoft because they cannot compete with their development technologies?

    Again guys, there are specific *Intellectual Properties* that the companies are rightfully protecting. And this is not your regular patent trolling, I know those, too, and they are annoying. This one's not.

  42. to thenonhacker says:

    Maybe you should read up on the Sun-Microsoft case over Java. Clearly you didn't realise it wasn't about patents, but a very clear case of contractual breach.

  43. Anon says:

    Sure that Microsoft invented "synchronizing email, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power.". Do not forge the double click too.

    US Patents are a non service for the mankind.

  44. ITGuy says:

    You lost me after "Microsoft makes cutting edge software"….

    MS has always been a follower and never an innovator….

    And not to mention your software is not that great.

  45. The Good says:

    I was not suprised by this move, but it makes me sad. Software patents are in most cases evil in their nature and is bad for inovation and small companies.

    The only one who likes software patents are big companies like microsoft who has a lot of obscure and in most cases trivial patents that everyone allready has been using for many years.

    Android has succeded in a short time to achive what MS has tried to do in many years with their bad smartphone stack, this is what this is about! Not protecting inovation! MS just want's to keep their old monopoly and looking in their users into their software and charging lot's of money for it.

    The MS phone stack is the ONLY phone stack that costs money to license today.

    MS accept reality and join the new world and try to make it better instead of trying to push time and inovation back 10 years!!!

  46. PDBL says:

    If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.… The solution to this is patent exchanges with large companies and patenting as much as we can.

       * "Challenges and Strategy" (16 May 1991) Bill Gates

    Sotware patent is the ideal tool to stop innovation I agree with you Mr Gates

  47. Annoyed says:

    How is email on a cell phone patented. A cell phone is nothing more than a small computer? This system simply gives the company with the most lawyers the right to make money of an Idea that everyone would have come up with.

  48. ML49448 says:

    "All the guys above: Patents will not stop other companies from using them, they simply need to license them, Not steal them. That's how it works."

    The (obvious) problem is that companies are patenting obvious non-innovations that are simply the next logical step forward, then suing when someone else uses their bs patent. Of course, these lawsuits are then decided by arbitrators and judges who are technologically ignorant, so obfuscation is easy. There is no one working in the patent OR judicial system today with the background to knowledgeably say what is and is not patent-worthy, making the system entirely broken and easily gamed by whoever had the most resources.

    I'm not sure why the non-hacker thinks that Google bad behavior is relevant to this case; all software patents are bad, no matter who's doing the suing.

  49. Troy Roberts says:

    Look at the patents …..

    5,579,517 "Common Name Space for Long and Short File Names"

    5,758,352 "Common Name Space for Long and Short File Names"

    So, these two are the the infamous FAT patents.

    6,621,746 "Monitoring Entropic Conditions of a Flash Memory Device as an Indicator for Invoking Erasure Operations"

    Defrag applied to flash, really that deserve a patent?

    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"

    Hmmm layering an API so that you have an invariant user space API and hardware driver portion. Seems like the kind of thing every OS does.

    6,909,910 "Method and System for Managing Changes to a Contact Database"

    Really!?!? I wonder how if my first year CS course work violates this patent.

    7,644,376 "Flexible Architecture for Notifying Applications of State Changes"

    Hmmmm… a publish/subscriber notification protocol, no that has never been done before.

    5,664,133 "Context Sensitive Menu System/Menu Behavior"

    Ha, Ha, Ha Context sensitive menus! I could have sworn I have seen things like that for the last 20 years or so.

    6,578,054 "Method and System for Supporting Off-line Mode of Operation and Synchronization Using Resource State Information"

    Hmmm… patenting persistent state storage as part of a synchronization process. Hmmmm… I wonder if any of the hash based synchronizer I have built in the past would infringe.

    6,370,566 "Generating Meeting Requests and Group Scheduling from a Mobile Device"

    Oh, doing it from a mobile device makes it so much more unique.

    They are all garbage patents and if Motorola decides to fight versus cross licensing, I don't believe they will hold up.

  50. PDBL says:

    @thenonhacker

    Software patents are evil being used by Microsoft or everybody else as nuclear weapons are

  51. Ben says:

    Obviously Microsoft rather compete in this field with lawyers rather than good programming.

  52. David H says:

    Does anyone seriously believe that Google or Motorola looked at or in any way made use of Microsoft's patents to figure out how to do these things?    The problem with the patent system is that too many obvious and mundane things are getting patented.   It's getting to the point where it is stifling innovation and we would all be better off without any patent system at all.    Pretty soon, somebody will patent the act of breathing and then we'll all be patent infringers.

  53. Jason says:

    I fail to see how these are "innovative". As soon as more powerful computer chips were placed onto these phones, these capabilities were inevitable, not innovative. These types of patents are stifling innovation and ultimately hurting consumers with higher prices for bs patent licenses required by the manufacturers. This is very similar to the "on the internet" patents, or "on the computer" patents that add little real value, but simply adapt existing tech to a new platform and try and slap a frivolous patent on them that developers now have to egg shell step through the patent mine field.

  54. Person says:

    Why go after Motorola, rather than Google? Most of what is "infringed" upon is in the base Android OS.

  55. Dave says:

    Nobody in their right mind would by a smartphone running MS's OS.  MS is probably doing the smart thing by changing it's business plan to patent trolling.

  56. thewatcher says:

    It's amusing to see everyone start blaming Microsoft, Google, and others on this. 🙂

    I believe that all these companies are *earnestly* doing what they can to produce great products and advance technology. They are not (in the general sense) using the courts to avoid doing their own work. Rather, the moral dilemma I see is with the patent process and how companies are forced to play games with patent licensing to avoid losing the rights to their own work. I think that the patent process has the tendency to make software companies act like patent whores.

    Again, I don't blame Google, Microsoft, Apple, HTC, etc for this. They are merely "playing the game" in order to avoid being taken advantage of others who play the game. I blame the patent process.

  57. blah says:

    Really? Why Can't you just actually compete my making a good product instead of suing motorla for coming out with a product that has been highly successful. And even the supposed Patents in question are BS. I looked over the case, and it seems like this is just a money grab, and you are suing using vague patents that could pretty much apply to a lot of things.

    Patent reform is needed. this is just stifling innovation and is clearly a money grab.

  58. Conan says:

    If the infringing technology is integration with Exchange, then the obvious solution is to drop support for Exchange, and move to a mail server that uses only open standards.

  59. Bob R says:

    Yes- a mail server that is based on open, recent technology. Not Exchange, which is the worst in the market- but somehow is still used by large corporations that don't know any better!

  60. David Crocker says:

    Microsoft is a perfect example of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Dunning and Kruger argued in their paper, “When people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.  Instead, they are left with the erroneous impression they are doing just fine.”

  61. artoo says:

    Intellectual Property is a BS buzzword term. MS fails at the Internet and mobile technology. The days of the PC are numbered. Go to the elephant graveyard with IBM and continue to sell your overpriced "innovative" software to companies. The rest of us will be fine with open source and open source friendly vendors. Linux will never die. Peace and Love and Death and Taxes.

  62. artoo says:

    Bill Gates of Microsoft has already echoed this – he said that if software patents had existed when Microsoft was set up they would not have been able to grow to the size they are now.

  63. mike says:

    It's just a way to make money since they won't with winmo phones.

  64. dousenator says:

    The bottom line is…there are waaaaaaaaaaaaayy to many lawyers!!!

  65. Software Engineering VP says:

    Having participated in an ugly patent litigation both offensive and defensive myself, my only comment is that Microsoft would be much better served through software innovation.  The software patent process is completely broken, and you will find that patents can be reexamined and undermined due to countless reasons.  It is challenging to prevail on an offensive litigation to prosecute a patent.    Best wishes to Google and Motorola to defeat this blatant patent troll behavior.  Good for lawyers bad for engineers and bad for Microsoft's future success.  Agree with Brian, and disagree with inResponse.  In contrast look at IBM who has a huge patent portfolio but you hardly see them conduct  prosecute litigation with them.  I would suggest Google should step in and use their search patents to go after M on Bing.

  66. Jo Manny says:

    Dude, that makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

    http://www.complete-privacy.es.tc

  67. Dave says:

    Wow, Microsoft.  If you are going to sue someone, at least sue the right company.  The device manufacturers don't write the software that allows the allegedly patent-infringing activities to occur, all of these apps are Google Apps; which integrate into the Android OS.  Neither are they Motorola specific; ALL Android 2.0+ devices support Exchange Activesync technologies.  And while we're at it; what about the iPhone?  I've been able to sync my iPod Touch with Exchange since I first got it.  And it as well uses Activesync.

  68. Hagbard says:

    Well, Microsoft had almost managed to convince me that they were an ethical company I could purchase products from in good conscience. I have read several of the patents at issue in this lawsuit and it is my opinion they are worthless garbage, like 99.99% of software patents.

  69. Dan_IT says:

    Microsoft is suing Motorola to try and make Android as or more expensive to bundle then WinMo.  

    They aren't trying to make money from their patents, they are using them as weapons to try and shoehorn themselves back into the mobile market.  

    They aren't trying to protect any assets, and this has nothing to do with innovation.

  70. DSkoll says:

    Most software patents are junk.  "Patented technology" to notify about a low battery?  Please!  The USPTO is dysfunctional and rubber-stamps patents with nary a thought about prior art or obviousness.  

  71. Tobbes says:

    Try suing Google instead, MS. Not scared are you?  Even better, put resources into creating new and superior products instead of lawyers.

    Thanks so much for protecting me from evil Moto, from doing things like "Generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device" that only MS should be able to do.

  72. TheMehi says:

    Microsoft just can't keep up. This will make Android MORE popular.

  73. MaRk-I says:

    "we’ve spent over 30 years developing cutting-edge computer software"

    C'mon Horacio, stealing code, buying code from small companies is not considered "developing"  the only best code that you have developed and never fails is the BSOD.

  74. Diggy says:

    What you fail to comprehend are that these are rock solid patents that both google and apple have already paid for.  know why your iphone has activesync now?  apple paid a pretty penny to license it. moto must have just decided it didnt want to pay.  If google is such a great company why dont they step up and indemnify their customers from patent risk like microsoft does?  it is because they have been caught red handed.

  75. Common Sense says:

    So, patent trolling is the way Microsoft intends to market their new mobile platform? Excellent idea. Microsoft, your phones have always been garbage. Come to think of it, your entire corporate culture is garbage. Also, congratulations on having Apple pass you in market cap this year. Google won't be too far behind. I'm really enjoying watching your company fall deeper into irrelevance. Good luck with your new phones. By the way the Kin failed you're going to need all the luck you can get.

  76. Windows Millenium Edition says:

    "Our action today merely seeks to ensure respect for our intellectual property rights infringed by Android devices; and judging by the recent actions by Apple and Oracle, we are not alone in this respect."

    Or it shows how scared Microsoft and Apple are that Android is the future. Android has been out for over two years and you are now seeing the writing on the wall. Clearly a money grab is at work as well. I love how you use the word "innovate" in a blog post regarding you suing another company. Innovation sells itself while litigation compensates for your stagnation.

  77. JoJo says:

    Typical. Moto do some W7 phones and we will forget about the issue. Same was with HTC.

  78. Dave says:

    You suck and so do most of your products. I can't wait until Microsoft fades into irrelevance.

  79. Sammy says:

    Basically, no-one likes windows mobile despite the "biilions" spent on it's mobile benefits so the only way MS can get a return is to suck some of the Android success

  80. JaneDoe says:

    If patents are so important, why fight the i4i XML patents instead of licensing them? Either you respect all issued patents and accept the whole system in its current form or admit that most things are too obvious to patent (in software).

  81. ekre says:

    An another reason why ill not buy a wp7 phone.

  82. mcahornsirup says:

    Do you really thnk this willl change the fact Windows Mobile 7 will be no success?

  83. Koshinae says:

    Justifying the bullshit?

    This is epic… a double facepalm.

  84. claudio says:

    A curious question that came to mind.  If Motorola conceded and complied with MS along with releasing a WinMo 7 phone, do they really need to put any effort in making that WinMo phone a good product?  I mean, just look at the success of both the HTC HD2 and the HTC Evo after HTC complied with MS's claims.  Oh, wait…only the latter seems to have achieved that…. 😉

  85. DRail says:

    I am a HUGE Microsoft fan but it is time for Microsoft to pull the pacifier out of it their mouth and develop a OS for a cell phone that actually does what we want.  Android does just that and Motorola takes advantage of it.  So Microsoft put on your big boy pants and develop a OS that we want and can use and quit crying around about someone taking taking your bottle away.  Microsoft should have been a little more serious about developing there OS for cell phones in the beginning.  They have been in the game longer than Android and have just been passed right by and left in the dust.

  86. Fokuhila says:

    Horacio writes:

    "course, for certain apps to run efficiently on handheld devices, they must be notified of changes in signal strength and battery power and the device must manage memory for storing data.  Given the wide range of functionality smartphones offer, they also need to be able to display relevant choices for users efficiently.  Microsoft’s patented technologies tackle all of these challenges."

    So, Microsoft patented that an application can query system statuus (like signal strength etc.)?

    This is a non-issue! I don't even know of any metapher to compare this with.

    Software Patents are ultimatively broken… seriously…

    Foku

  87. Patent Troll says:

    Windows Phone 7 will be a flop; lawsuits against Android is the first sign of it.

  88. massai says:

    This was an awfully stupid decision, Microsoft. As you might see in the comment section of this post, you will get very bad publicity for this lawsuit. I guess you don't care about customers anymore, or is it just your legal department?

    This feels so wrong, especially with your company stealing ideas so offensively (speaking of Bing, or IE9, or several concepts in C#). Probably nobody of Microsoft will read my post anyways… lovely customer service…

  89. unbelievable says:

    This is exactly why the software industry is still using outdated unimaginative ideas.

    If you have a device or computer for that matter that uses email (I guess somewhat will own the patent for email next) it is only common sense that said device will need to communicate and sync. Software has operated with these basic principles since the 60's. Come on!

    NOT A NEW IDEA, HELLO!

  90. Microsoft is dying. says:

    Last ditch attempt from Microsoft to get their crappy operating system on people's phones.

    I can't wait until software patents die. Seriously, FAT patents?

    Nobody wants Windows 7 Mobile. Please go away.

  91. erryeah says:

    Teenagers/20somethings/30somethings love Android phones. I'm sure lawsuit this will improve MSFT's/Steve Ballmer's mobile brand image with generations of consumers. Great plan. (/sarcasm)

  92. Companies should ignore United States of Corporations says:

    and move to Europe, Russia, China and India.

  93. Noah says:

    oh my. microsoft is sooooo proud about its TRIVIAL patent that they forget about competition. playing still the mayor role in software business, but innovation never was and never will be their strength. so it's essential for them to file their better competitives. but that still doesn't make them a phone seller. to be honest, their phones are just a laugh and it's hard for microsoft, that competitors are doing the job better than microsoft.

  94. c0d3in says:

    BRAVO!

    Thank you for demonstrating to all of us once again that you are patent trolls!

  95. phoneaddict says:

    Oh come on Microsoft, you are not the phone inventor. If someone is going file suit, it should be ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL or ELISHA GRAY.

  96. Garry Trinder says:

    What a joke. It's sad that Microsoft has sunken to the level of patent troll.

    They can't come up with a phone that competes in the market, so the just sue the competition – classy.

    To everyone saying this is reasonable and that companies need to think outside the box:

    That's like saying find another way to make phone calls, but they aren't allowed to be in real time.

    Synchronization is such a basic concept that patenting it is a joke to say the least.

    Whats next? A lawsuit for having the power down function on the phone?

    If I remember right, that was the last thing Microsoft was attempting to patent.

  97. Exfro says:

    Microsoft … isn't a bit sad to sue instead to innovate?.

  98. SAN PATRICE says:

    THIS IS COOL , I HAVE A U.S PATENT THAT MAY ALLOW A WAY AROUND MICROSOFT'S CLAIMS HAY MOTOROLA CALL CALL ME AT 409-787-3001MAYBE WE CAN WORK SOMETHING OUT  

  99. Jamez says:

    In the smartphone patent wars Microsoft have yet to respond publicly to a claim from a company called EMBLAZE that Microsoft,s IIS Smooth Streaming technique that underlies SilverlightSiverlight is infringing their video streaming patent.

    In July this year Emblaze have already launched legal action against Apple. It has charged that the iPhone, iPod touch, Mac OS X and now the iPad copy Emblaze's technique of streaming without a dedicated server through their implementation of HTML live streaming.

  100. paul says:

    This behavior is usually indicative of a company that can no longer compete and thus litigates to stifle innovation. WinMo 7 doesn't appear to be up to scratch but Im sure this will help prevent others from innovating MS completely out of the market… Well, Im pretty sure that this is the actual aim right?

  101. a_arb says:

    Yawn…no comments…as we say in the forums…don't feed the troll (in this case the author of the blog). Good luck trying to prove this in court.

  102. Vegard says:

    Cant make the best products, so its better to crunch the opposition in court with your dollarmuscles? Not much of a surprise given your recent duds (And "at-the-end-of-the-line Baldmer), but I find it puzzling that you chose to use those bullshit patents that will never hold up in court.

  103. DieMicrosoftDie says:

    It looks Microsoft FUD game is not working anymore, now they have to engage in frivolous lawsuits. Since Balmer declared Linux a cancer, Microsoft engages in annual be very afraid tours, patent FUDing to try and keep people away from GNU/Linux. Explained by Eben Moglen:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch

    Microsoft made deal with Novell, to try and infect GNU/Linux with .NOT/mono, and give real teeth to their FUD.

    Apparently, that is failing miserably. Since Novell is up for sale, and because people are switching to GNU/Linux in droves (especially enterprises and hand-held devices, but desktop too), Microsoft is becoming nervous. Proprietary software can't keep up with free software so Microsoft tries to use courts to force OEMs to use their unworkable Vista Phone 7.  But it won't work. Microsoft is inevitably dying. Lying that they 'love open source"  won't save them. This lawsuit proves they are lying and makes Microsoft die faster. Nothing can save evil empire now. Sending Paul Allen troll to sue Google is not very courageous thing to do, and also suing Motorola instead Google shows that Microsoft are wimps. They don't even have balls to sue straight.

    Die Microsoft die.

  104. sickofmicrosoft says:

    Microsoft's just another patent troll, stifling innovation. I suggest they read "Secrets of The Wholly Grill".

  105. Greg Krohne says:

    Thanks.

    I was starting to forget why I resent Microsoft so much.

  106. Me says:

    Microsoft either stole or bought out other companies, they have never come up with a single idea on their own.  Your time has come Microsoft.  Get out of the way.

  107. Chris says:

    "we've spent over 30 years developing cutting-edge computer software"

    Oh yeah, when will it be released?

  108. Tachyon Feathertail says:

    Dude, your flagship product rips off Apple, who ripped off Xerox PARC.

    Fling all the lawsuits you like, but take down whatever nonsense you have on your blog about fostering "innovation," or being good people at all. You're just hacking the law to make life harder for others.

  109. Matt@H says:

    This little Microsoft tirade smacks of a marketing campaign in disguise.  

    Lets face it, the Windows 7 phone is due out VERY shortly, looks highly unimpressive and thief's more than a couple of ideas from Apple/Google.  But that's nothing new for Microsoft right, being late to the marketplace with 'innovation'.

    Android is now the top selling (not usage) OS in the US, ahead of Apple and RIM.  Can Microsoft crack this?  Unlikely.

    Lets look at the so called patent infringements;  against Motorola?  Err why?  

    Motorola manufacture phones, not the Android OS, that's Google (who lets face it, would stomp all over MS in a courtroom). Why not sue HTC, Samsung, LG, Google, Sony Ericsson as well?

    Android's been out for 2 years, Windows 7 for the phone is weeks away…. interesting timing.

    Apple has been using Activesync for YEARS to access Exchange, where's their law suit? Given the market penetration, length of use, Apple are the biggest users of mobile email on handheld devices using 'MS technologies'.

    Given this complete cack handed law suit that's inaccurate is SO many ways, it's either Microsoft marketing in disguise (which is atrocious anyway you look at it, so more believable than not), or they have the worst legal team on the face of the planet.

  110. Randomize says:

    "That Microsoft has important patents in this area should not surprise anyone – we’ve spent over 30 years developing cutting-edge computer software. "

    When do you plan on releasing any of such said cutting-edge computer software to the public?

  111. Boris says:

    Windows is a clone of Mac OS. C# is a clone of Java. The company that always plagiarized others' ideas now is trying to use medieval laws against everything innovative – it's not surprising that the rating of Microsoft shares changed to neutral from buy.

  112. Maximilian says:

    "Synchronization Technology on Mobile Phones is a patented invention"

    Emails and basically all sorts of files have been sync'ed between all computers of the internet for 30 years now ("mirrors" exist as long as computer networks). The idea to synchronize emails and contacts from a computer to a mobile phone must be so totally obvious to anyone with only a very superfluous knowledge of computers that Microsoft should never be able to win this in court.

    Unfortunately, judges and lawyers hardly know how to use Microsoft Word and are therefore ready to buy this "we’ve spent over 30 years developing cutting-edge computer software"-nonsense.They really believe that Microsoft  has been developing "cutting-edge" computer software. If you have never used a mainframe, never programmed a home computer in the 80s, have no idea of how DOS stole from everyone else, or how Windows 2.11 was just a copy of various parts copied from Apple's Lisa, Xerox Alto, GEM, and others, then you might even believe that syncing emails is a non-obvious "invention". I doubt that this patent has ever been seriously challenged in court (and the same goes for the other eight patents).

    All developers of mobile phones infringe many of Microsoft patents. I think it is clear what Motorola should do: first put all of their own trivial software patents into the public domain, then contact other software companies and collect money to get these Microsoft patents invalidated in court, then make a case and lobby members of congress to build more checks and balances into the US patent system. The current way to deal with these patents is just an enormous waste of time and money. It's Microsoft who is currently exploiting it, but very soon it will be another company again. (see also: http://www.guardian.co.uk/…/microsoft-motorola-android-patent-lawsuit)

  113. John says:

    Pretty funny talking about Innovation.  Microsoft only innovates because they have competition.  It has been shown that Microsoft would just rest on what they have but then have to do just a little bit better to keep customers it already has.  I use Windows at work but refuse to use any thing from Microsoft at home.  I hate patents and feel that Microsoft goes after these companies because they can usually scare them into paying for absurd patents such as the fat patent.  I hate patents and hope that some day we will not have to worry about patents as all patents do is stop innovation.

  114. ugg knightsbridge says:

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  115. TheTruther says:

    For the GC of MSFT to say that Microsoft has spent "… 30 years developing cutting edge software." is a complete joke.  Microsoft has not in my experience (and from what I have read about the company) EVER developed cutting edge software.   They develop truck loads of crappy software that is mostly an attempt to copy someone else's success.  Check out Bing recycling Google results for one very current example.  

    Microsoft has never competed based on the strength of their software, ever.  Their stuff universally sucks.  This is what they have become a parasite on the tech industry.

  116. sundaybuy says:

    "That Microsoft has important patents in this area should not surprise anyone".

    This is true. And neither should it surprise anyone that Microsoft choses to use legal force to try and milk the market for money rather than<a href="http://www.sundaybuy.com/Car-DVD-player-for-BMW-E46-with-GPS-radio-bluetooth-TV-8952_929.html">bmw e46 car dvd player</a>competing with decent products.

  117. sundaybuy says:

    "That Microsoft has important patents in this area should not surprise anyone".

    This is true. And neither should it surprise anyone that Microsoft choses to use legal force to try and milk the market for money rather than<a href="www.sundaybuy.com/Car-DVD-player-for-BMW-E46-with-GPS-radio-bluetooth-TV-8952_929.html"> bmw e46 car dvd player</a>competing with decent products.

  118. start delivering, stop abusing the patent system says:

    Technologies for mobile e-mail, synchronization, notifications, etc. were not invented or introduced by Microsoft.  If Microsoft managed to get patents on such technologies, then those patents should be held invalid.  

    The fact is that Microsoft's mobile efforts have been miserable failures.  Part of the failure is because of Microsoft's misguided attempts to use its mobile software to strengthen and extend its desktop monopoly, instead of addressing users needs.  Another part of the problem is that the user experience on Microsoft platforms is generally poor.

    Start making good products and stop suing other, innovative companies that actually succeed where you failed.

  119. it's not "property" says:

    "How do you know it's common? have you actually read all nine patents and their implementation details?"

    Yes, I have. But the content of Microsoft's patents is irrelevant in this case anyway; what matters is whether the technologies that Android is based are in the public domain, and they are.  To the degree that Microsoft's patents overlap with Android's implementations, it is Microsoft's patents that are invalid.

    "Microsoft is doing what Google, Yahoo, IBM, or any other companies would do, protecting their intellectual property."

    If Microsoft acquired rights in technologies they didn't actually invent, then at the very least they should lose that rights, and arguably they should be punished (regrettably, patent law rarely punishes companies for filing bad patents, something that should probably be changed).

    "Like it says.. intellectual PROPERTY. It's a property."

    That's why it isn't actually called "intellectual property" in the law.  Patents and copyrights are not "property", they are temporary rights granted by the government.  You are granted those rights in exchange for novel contributions.  Those grants can be taken away.

  120. dfgfdg says:

    Software patents are universally reviled for moves just like this one, and it just http://www.halpabalenciaga.com/balenciaga-varastoida.html reinforces that Microsoft deserves the bad reputation they've cultivated.

  121. Mishael Tutana says:

    Motorola knew they had security issues with their phones but they wanted to save their pockets instead of our privacy, I owed a Motorola Droid X and it had some very bad security flows. I called and informed Motorola about the issue four times but it fell to deaf ears. They even said i was doing something wrong !!! I belelieve Motorola should recall all their Phones.

  122. MP says:

    There's a good translation for this at article at Slashdot.org:

    We're no longer relevant in this market but we own some patents so we're going to screw as much money out of innovators as we can.

    Be sure, my next Computer will NOT have anything to do with Microsoft.