Motorola Countersues Microsoft in Patent Fight

As predictable as rain in Seattle in November, Wednesday evening, mobile device maker Motorola responded to two lawsuits that Microsoft recently filed against it by countersuing, alleging that the software titan infringes some 16 of its own patents.

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Motorola (NYSE: MOT) have been on increasingly bad terms of late.

The software giant sued Motorola twice in the past six weeks -- first, in early October, regarding Microsoft patents alleged to be used in Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android mobile operating system, a direct competitor to the Windows Phone 7 operating system.

Then, last week, Microsoft sued Motorola again, this time for breach of contract in a dispute over the amount Motorola insists Microsoft must pay the phone maker to use patented technologies for wireless communications and H.264 video in Xbox game consoles but also in other important products.

The Motorola patents in dispute are part of two international standards, and, as part of certifying a new standard, the standards bodies require that all patented technologies used in a standard must be available for license to anyone who implements the standard under what are known as "reasonable and non-discriminatory," or RAND, terms.

In short, Microsoft claims that Motorola is asking Microsoft to pay more to license the wireless and H.264 video patents than what it believes it should have to pay under RAND terms.

Now, it's Motorola's turn to lash back.

"Motorola today announced that its subsidiary, Motorola Mobility, has filed complaints against Microsoft with the U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of Florida and the Western District of Wisconsin alleging infringement of sixteen patents by Microsoft's PC and Server software, Windows mobile software and Xbox products," said a Motorola statement about the filing.

On the list of Microsoft products and technologies affected by the Motorola patent claims are Windows, digital video coding, Exchange, Messenger and Outlook, Windows Live instant messaging and object oriented software architecture, Motorola said. Additionally, the phone maker claims patents to technologies it says Microsoft used in Windows Marketplace and Bing maps, as well as Wi-Fi technology, and graphical passwords.

Microsoft's legal team said it was too soon to comment in detail since the legal filing had just arrived, but that there was nothing unusual about the countersuit.

"This move is typical of the litigation process and we are not surprised. We remain confident in our position and will continue to move forward with the complaints we initiated against Motorola in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and with the International Trade Commission (ITC)," Horacio Gutierrez, deputy general counsel of intellectual property and licensing, said in an emailed statement.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.


Microsoft, Windows Phone, patents, lawsuit, Motorola