Google blasts Microsoft, Nokia for hiding behind patent trolls

In documents sent to regulators in the United States and Europe, Google accuses the companies of funding patent wars through proxy companies.

Google today filed a complaint with the Europe Commission and sent a report to the Federal Trade Commission complaining that Microsoft and Nokia are funding patent trolls in order to discourage device makers from using the Android mobile operating system.

The documents are not suits, but rather informational reports sent to regulators to make them aware of actions that Google believes are anti-competitive. Google submitted the documents to preempt Microsoft and Nokia from using proxies to wage patent wars against companies that might otherwise use Android.

"Nokia and Microsoft are colluding to raise the costs of mobile devices for consumers, creating patent trolls that side-step promises both companies have made," Google said in a statement. "They should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices."

The company declined to comment beyond the statement, and would not provide copies of the documents sent to the two regulatory agencies, which were submitted privately. Nokia declined to comment on the documents. Microsoft, though, accused Google of abusing its own market position.

"Google is complaining about patents when it won't respond to growing concerns by regulators, elected officials and judges about its abuse of standard-essential patents, and it is complaining about antitrust in the smartphone industry when it controls more than 95 percent of mobile search and advertising," Microsoft said in a statement. "This seems like a desperate tactic on their part."

Google is clearly concerned about Mosaid, a Canadian patent firm that acquired 2,000 wireless patents and patent applications from Nokia last September. Mosaid, which makes its money licensing patents and collecting royalties, sometimes via lawsuit, agreed to share that revenue with Nokia and Microsoft. Google worries that the essential patents held by Mosaid will be used as a bludgeon to blunt Android, rather than being shared on reasonable terms.

And while Mosaid sued Apple over patent infringement last March, it's unclear if the company has targeted any companies that use Android. Microsoft, though, has sued some Android device makers , such as Google-owned Motorola, and reached licensing deals with others , most recently with Pegatron last month.

Mosaid is not the only company on Google's radar. Nokia sold 450 patents and patent applications to Sisvel in January. And Rockstar, a consortium that includes Microsoft and Apple, won 6,000 patents and patent applications from Nortel, the bankrupt Canadian telecom equipment maker, and received permission from regulators in March to close the deal.

Updated at 4:58 p.m. PT with a comment from Microsoft.

 

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