Microsoft sues Motorola over smart phone patents

By Wailin Wong
Posted Oct. 1, 2010 at 3:42 p.m.

Microsoft Corp. said Friday it has sued Motorola Inc., claiming that the Schaumburg-based company has violated nine of its patents with smartphones running Google’s Android operating system.

Microsoft, which is headquartered in Redmond, Wash., filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on Friday. The company said it also filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission.

Motorola said in a brief statement that it has not seen the complaint and therefore could not comment directly on it.

“Motorola has a leading intellectual property portfolio, one of the strongest in the industry,” the company said. “(It) will vigorously defend itself in this matter.”

The patents in dispute cover technology that is “essential to the smartphone user experience,” Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel of intellectual property and licensing, said in a statement. This technology provides for functions such as synchronizing e-mail, calendars and contacts and scheduling meetings, Gutierrez added.

Companies can customize the way they put Android on a handset. The lawsuit alleges that the way Motorola uses Android in its smartphones infringes on Microsoft’s intellectual property. Taiwanese company HTC has also become a prolific manufacturer of Android devices, but has not locked horns with Microsoft in the same way. Earlier this year, Microsoft and HTC signed a patent agreement covering use of Microsoft’s patents for HTC’s Android phones.

Motorola has pegged the turnaround of its mobile devices division on smartphones powered by Android, a mobile operating system that has been growing rapidly as developers and handset manufacturers explore the platform’s potential as a formidable competitor to products by Apple and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion.

Microsoft has a proprietary operating system for mobile devices and is expected to unveil devices with this updated Windows Mobile software later this year, hoping to make a comeback in the smartphone space. Motorola has made Windows Mobile phones before but has largely eschewed Microsoft and other software platforms for Android in the last year.

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