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Google: Microsoft Enters Patent Battles When Its Products Stop Succeeding

by Killian Bell | November 7, 2011November 7, 2011 5:24 am PST

Microsoft CEO Steve BallmerA Google lawyer has taken a swipe at Microsoft for using its wealthy patent portfolio to its advantage when its products aren’t doing so well. Tim Porter, Google’s patent counsel, told the San Francisco Chronicle in a recent interview that the Redmond-based company enters into patent battles to make revenue when its products “stop succeeding.”

Porter also defended Google’s mobile operating system and said that Microsoft’s tactics are distracting to companies who manufacture Android-powered devices, and that they lead to less innovation. The company’s large patent portfolio, Porter continued, is used to absorb revenue from other successful products:

“Unfortunately, the way it works is you don’t know what patents cover until courts declare that in litigation. What that means is people have to make decisions about whether to fight or whether to reach agreements.

This is a tactic that Microsoft has used in the past, with Linux, for example. When their products stop succeeding in the marketplace, when they get marginalized, as is happening now with Android, they use the large patent portfolio they’ve built up to get revenue from the success of other companies’ products.”

The claims follow a recent outburst from Horacio Gutiérrez, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, in which he said Google is “standing on the shoulders” of other company’s work when it comes to Android devices. However, this was by no means the beginning of the verbal spat between the two tech giants. Things got nasty when Microsoft moved to secure royalties from Android vendors for using technology protected by its patents.

Microsoft has now secured patent protection deals with over half of all Android device manufacturers, including Acer and Samsung, but it continues to chase Motorola for a similar agreement.

Do you think Porter’s claims are an accurate reflection of Microsoft’s habits?

[via WinRumors]

Killian Bell

Killian Bell is a 20-something technology journalist based in a tiny town in England. He has an obsession with that little company in Cupertino...