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Google says Apple and Microsoft are ganging up to 'strangle' Android

Google has accused Microsoft, Apple and other companies of colluding to drive up the prices of Android devices, through crafty patent acquisition and lawsuits.

Google has lashed out at Apple, Microsoft and other companies, saying that leading tech companies are ganging up on Android, with the aim of driving up the prices of Android devices through crafty patent acquisition and endless lawsuits.

In a ferocious blog post entitled 'When patents attack Google', Google senior vice president and chief legal officer David Drummond accuses companies including Microsoft, Apple and Oracle (which owns Java) of chipping away at Android through a sustained legal onslaught, acquiring old Nortel and Novell patents to make sure Google can't get them.

Oracle is suing Google, saying it infringes on patents it owns related to Java, while Microsoft is taking legal action against manufacturers that use Android, like Motorola.

Thanks to another courtroom dispute, Android manufacturer HTC has to pay Microsoft $5 for every Android device it makes, something that could well drive up the final price of those handsets, putting Android phones at a disadvantage, and making the platform less appealing to a manufacturer thinking about sticking Android on its products.

Apple is currently engaged in gavel-slamming conflict with HTC and Samsung, trying to stop the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 going on sale in the US

In June, Apple and Microsoft were part of a group of companies that bid $4.5bn for a portfolio of some 6,000 Nortel patents. Google valued the patents at a fifth as much, less than $1bn, but ended up bidding $3.14159bn, a satirical offer based on the value of pi. Those patents related to wireless, voice, networking and all sorts of other bits of tech you'd typically find in a smart phone. Google reckons those companies are deliberately teaming up to acquire patents, to take down Android.

Microsoft bod Brad Smith fought back against the accusations in a tweet, saying, "Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no."

Another Microsoft exec has released a screenshot from an email, reportedly showing Google turning down an offer to be part of the Novell patent bid, our sister site CNET News reports. It's slightly flimsy evidence -- that email makes no mention of what specifically the two companies could be making a joint bid on.

"We're not naive; technology is a tough and ever-changing industry," Google's Drummond writes. "But in this instance we thought it was important to speak out and make it clear that we're determined to preserve Android as a competitive choice for consumers, by stopping those who are trying to strangle it."

What do you think? Are companies unfairly ganging up on Android? And if so, what could be done to stop it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, or on our Facebook page