Just when we thought the patent wars were over, Google has announced yesterday that they've filed an antitrust complaint in Europe, pointing a finger at Nokia and Microsoft regarding patents. The search giant is arguing that both companies are using third-party agencies (which are internally branded "patent trolls") to increase the costs for mobile devices, which would in-turn provide a strong advantage to the Microsoft ecosystem. An example is provided by Google, where the company states that Nokia and Microsoft have entered into revenue-based agreements with the likes of Mosaid Technologies.
Last year the two companies in question transferred a total of 2,000 patents to Mosaid, as well as Nokia selling 450 to IP Bulldog. Google views a threat on the horizon where more fees placed on OEMs may force manufacturers to look elsewhere, Windows Phone in this case, for cheaper production costs. While details of the filing has not been published, a statement from Google has been provided:
"Nokia and Microsoft are colluding to raise the costs of mobile devices for consumers, creating patent trolls that sidestep promises both companies have made. They should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices."
By colluding with both Microsoft and Mosaid, Google alleges that Nokia has betrayed its previous open-source commitments. A Microsoft representative has responded to these claims with the following comment:
"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."
Nokia has also publicly responded to the filing:
"Though we have not yet seen the complaint, Google's suggestion that Nokia and Microsoft are colluding on IPR is wrong. Both companies have their own IPR portfolios and strategies and operate independently.
Nokia has made regular patent divestments over the last five years. In each case, any commitments made for standards essential patents transfer to the acquirer and existing licenses for the patents continue. Had Google asked us, we would have been happy to confirm this, which could then have avoided them wasting the commission's time and resources on such a frivolous complaint.
We agree with Google that Android devices have significant IP infringement issues, and would welcome constructive efforts to stop unauthorised use of Nokia intellectual property.
Nokia has an active licensing program with more than 40 licensees. Companies who are not yet licensed under our standard essential patents should simply approach us and sign up for a license."
We'll have to see how these complaints progress through the European regulators. We'll never get tired of patent news.