updated 03:45 pm EDT, Fri October 1, 2010
Microsoft claims Moto Android phones use patents
Microsoft today sued Motorola for allegedly violating patents with its Android-based phones. The complaints with both the International Trade Commission and in a Western District of Washington court claim that the devices copy technology "essential" to the smartphone experience, such as calendars and contacts, e-mail sync and notifications for apps of battery and connection levels. The accusations didn't initially include any damage values, but an ITC investigation would lead to a ban on Motorola phones in the US if successful.
Motorola has said it plans to "vigorously defend" against the lawsuit and pointed to the strength of its own patent library as support.
The strategy follows a similar dispute with HTC and repeats a strategy Microsoft has been using against Linux operating systems in an attempt to subdue competition. The Windows developer has always insisted it has multiple patents that cover Linux and has made a number of licensing deals with companies such as Amazon and Novell, usually under the implied threat of a lawsuit if they don't agree to the terms.
So far, Microsoft hasn't had the validity of its Android claims directly challenged in court but may have this challenged by Motorola. Observers have suspected a deal was made with HTC both to profit from its switch to Android as well as to keep it in line and producing Windows Phone devices. Windows Mobile has seen nearly half of its market share disappear in the past year due to Android and the iPhone, and the Motorola Droid remains the most popular Android phone after nearly a year of being on the market.