Google Files Antitrust Complaint Against Microsoft and Nokia

Posted Jun 1, 2012

Google has filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft Corporation and Nokia Corporation yesterday in Europe. Google said that the two companies are using proxy companies to brandish patents to hurt Google Android prospects. Google will be sharing their complaints about patent “trolls” with the U.S. competition regulators as well.

Google alleges that Microsoft and Nokia entered into agreements that allow entities like Mosaid Technologies in Canada to legally enforce their patent rights and share in the revenue.

Google had described the filing with European regulators as being a pre-emptive measure against a developing legal issue for Android partners. Google is concerned that if hardware phone partners run into a legal risk with using Android, they may end up wanting to use Microsoft Windows Phone software instead.

“Nokia and Microsoft are colluding to raise the costs of mobile devices for consumers, creating patent trolls that sidestep promises both companies have made,” said a Google spokesman said in a statement. “They should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices.”

However a Microsoft representative said “Google is complaining about patents when it won’t respond to growing concerns by regulators, elected officials and judges about its abuse of standard-essential patents, and it is complaining about antitrust in the smartphone industry when it controls more than 95% of mobile search and advertising. This seems like a desperate tactic on their part.”

Microsoft and Nokia have a cross-licensing agreement for patents as a part of their broad partnership. Nokia builds devices that are based on Microsoft Windows Phone software. In March 2011, I reported that Microsoft was offering Nokia $1 billion over 5 years for the Windows Phone deal.

Mosaid bought a company called Core Wireless, which has 2,000 patents and patent applications that were originally filed by Nokia. At that time, Mosaid said that the patents were strong in terms of being “standards-essential” patents that covers the necessary technology for many companies in the telecommunications industry. “This is one of the strongest standards-essential wireless portfolios available on the market, and we are thrilled that we… have the opportunity to monetize it,” said Mosaid CEO John Lindgren in a statement.

Google said that Nokia is betraying their previous commitment to open source software by colluding with Microsoft and Mosaid. Android was developed using an open source model and is offered to device manufacturers for free. Google Android currently has a 56.1% share of the world-wide smartphone market. Microsoft has a 1.9% market share.

Google is not the only company that has filed a complaint against Mosaid. Barnes & Noble Inc. complained to the Justice Department that Microsoft’s partnership in Mosaid is evidence of “Microsoft’s broader plan to shield itself from patent lawsuits while also eliminating competition from Android.”