Microsoft-Motorola patent spat heats up

The legal battle between Microsoft and Motorola continues to be waged in multiple courts. Find out what's changed since it started.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read
Motorola and Microsoft logos

The legal wrestling match between Microsoft and Motorola over intellectual property has heated up, with both sides tacking on extra patents to their existing lawsuits and complaints.

Over at blog FOSS Patents, IP activist Florian Mueller has made a handy timeline of the two companies' legal dance, running from October of last year--when Microsoft first filed two legal complaints against Motorola--all the way to late February, when Microsoft managed to get the first of three suits in the state of Wisconsin moved to the Western District of Washington.

During that span of four months, Motorola added two additional patents to one of its complaints, while Microsoft added seven extras across two of the Wisconsin suits.

What were they? On Microsoft's side, the company added five extra patents on January 19, one of which related to a handheld computing device with an external notification system, three that dealt with browser navigation, and one for file system management on flash memory. Less than a week later, Microsoft tacked on two additional patents in part of a counterclaim that addressed a loading animation in the Web browser of mobile devices, and user input data for computers with touch screens.

Meanwhile, the extra patents on Motorola's side, which were added in February (as part of an amended complaint) dealt with biometric sensors, and an "interactive wireless gaming system." This last one is of special interest given that Motorola does not currently make a gaming system that would compete head-to-head with Microsoft's Xbox.

Motorola's answer to that, as unearthed in a court filing by Mueller, is that Motorola views its handsets running Google's Android as competing with Microsoft's gaming business. This includes Windows Phone 7, where Microsoft sells games in its application marketplace. That market is set to get a potential boost in growth as the first wave of CDMA Windows Phone 7 handsets hit, later joined by Nokia-made Windows Phones as part of Microsoft and Nokia's strategic partnership.

Microsoft launched its original lawsuit at Motorola back in October, taking aim at Android. Along with that suit, Microsoft filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission. Microsoft then filed another complaint against the company's licensing fees. Motorola countersued two days later, saying Microsoft was infringing on 16 of its patents in products like Windows for servers, PCs, and mobile devices.

The fallout from these suits and the other complaints could end up in a settlement or a licensing deal. The complaints with the ITC, on the other hand, seek to take things one step further and keep infringing products and services from going in and out of the U.S.