Google, Samsung diss MicroNokia in China -- report

The companies say they're worried that the merger could give Microsoft too much power over patents.

Google and Samsung have taken to the China Ministry of Commerce to express concern over Microsoft's impending $7.5 billion acquisition of Nokia, a new report claims.

The companies went before the Ministry of Commerce recently to say that the acquisition could give Microsoft too much control over the patent market by taking on Nokia, which has a massive patent portfolio, and thus could put competitors in a troubling competitive position, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing people who claim to have knowledge of the talks.

Microsoft isn't technically taking on all of the Nokia's mobile patents in the deal, deciding instead to leave the portfolio in Nokia's control. Still, Google and Samsung argue that Microsoft will have enough influence to hurt competitors on licensing fees.

This isn't the first time we've heard of companies expressing some concern over the patents Nokia owns. Last year, in fact, several Microsoft competitors went before the European Union raising the same competitive concerns. The EU approved the deal, but said it would watch Nokia's licensing to ensure it fell within legal constraints.

The mobile space is in an odd position as it relates to patents. Most major companies are licensing their technologies to their competitors, due in large part to firms, like Samsung, owning "standard-essential patents" that must be offered on fair and reasonable terms to any and all companies. Nonstandard-essential intellectual property can be offered on whatever terms the owner decides.

Despite Google's concerns with Microsoft and Nokia, the company might have been boosted a bit last week when Nokia announced that it would offer Android-based smartphones.

China's Ministry of Commerce has yet to make a final judgment on the Nokia deal. It's not clear how Google and Samsung's concerns might play into that decision.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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