Microsoft has filed a formal competition complaint with the European Commission against Motorola Mobility and Google because it says the companies are trying to use its patents to kill video as we know it on smartphones, tablets and on any web-connected device.
In a blog post, Microsoft claims that Motorola and its soon-to-be owner Google are using patents it has in web video to demand unreasonable royalty fees.
Motorola is trying to block sales of some Microsoft products due to some patents regarding web videos. Certain patents in various areas have been committed to agreed-upon standards which have to be licensed via “fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms” (FRAND). This came about because standards bodies and the European Commission determined that some technologies are just too essential for innovation and growth to be mired in lawsuits and large patent fees.
Microsoft says that Google and Motorola are not doing that.
Unfortunately, Motorola has refused to make its patents available at anything remotely close to a reasonable price. For a $1,000 laptop, Motorola is demanding that Microsoft pay a royalty of $22.50 for its 50 patents on the video standard, called H.264. As it turns out, there are at least 2,300 other patents needed to implement this standard. They are available from a group of 29 companies that came together to offer their H.264 patents to the industry on FRAND terms. Microsoft’s patent royalty to this group on that $1,000 laptop?
Microsoft hints that it believes these patent fees are aimed at crippling the competition – or at least, to extract a hefty licensing fee. It’s tough to ever really feel sorry for Microsoft for being picked on but if what it is saying is true, this is just a bad situation all around.
As a fan of true innovation and competition, let’s hope that Google really did buy Motorola for more than just patents.