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Google seeks sanction against Microsoft expert in ITC case

In a legal fight between Microsoft and Motorola, Google has stepped in to say that one of Microsoft's witnesses should be kept from testifying because he has seen Android's source code.

Google has asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to keep one of Microsoft's expert witnesses from testifying in the software giant's ongoing legal fracas with Motorola, alleging that the witness has seen the source code for its Android operating system.

In a motion filed with the ITC yesterday, and picked up by PaidContent today, Google seeks to keep Microsoft-hired expert Robert Stevenson from testifying, saying that he's seen the Android source code, which remains confidential. Furthermore, Google says it never gave Stevenson permission to view the code, something that's required as part of the case's protective order.

The case between Microsoft and Motorola centers on patents, with Microsoft alleging that Motorola phones running Google's Android violate patents it owns. The two companies are also embroiled in a separate legal battle in court over the matter, along with another ITC complaint filed by Motorola last year, taking aim at Microsoft for violating its own patents in the company's Xbox game console.

The complaints with the ITC aim to keep infringing products and services from being sold in the U.S. The fallout from these suits and the other complaints could end up in a settlement or a licensing deal.

Yesterday's filing follows a heated exchange between Google and Microsoft last week, kicked off by a blog post by Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, alleging that Microsoft was conspiring with Apple and others to keep patents away from it. Microsoft's corporate vice president of corporate communications, Frank Shaw, fired back, releasing an e-mail from Google general counsel Kent Walker to his counterpart at Microsoft, Brad Smith, declining Microsoft's offer to jointly bid on patents from Nortel.

Drummond later updated the original blog post, claiming Shaw's move was an attempt to "divert attention by pushing a false 'gotcha!' while failing to address the substance of the issues we raised." Microsoft's Shaw responded with a series of tweets, saying Google sought to gain patents that it "could use to assert against someone else."