Google and Microsoft's public patent spat gets louder, sadder

By on August 4, 2011 at 5:30 PM.

Google and Microsoft's public patent spat gets louder, sadder

Microsoft’s Communications boss Frank X. Shaw on Thursday responded to an update posted by Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, which was written in response to Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith’s response to Drummond’s initial claim that Microsoft and Apple were playing dirty with patents. Catch all that? Here’s the gist of it: Google’s David Drummond wrote on Wednesday that Microsoft, Apple and others were “banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the ‘CPTN’ group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the ‘Rockstar’ group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them.” Microsoft’s Frank X. Shaw and Brad Smith each responded on Twitter, saying that Google was invited to the patent party but the company declined the invitation. On Thursday, Drummond updated his original post on the Google blog, stating that Microsoft and Apple’s invitation was disingenuous. Had Google joined the group that purchased the patents, Drummond explained, the joint acquisition would have “eliminated any protection these patents could offer to Android against attacks from Microsoft and its bidding partners.”

Microsoft’s Shaw then shot back on Twitter, saying that Drummond is a liar and Google didn’t joint the group because it wanted the patents all to itself (of course Google’s bids in the Nortel patent auction were seemingly intended to merely drive up the price of the portfolio; it bid $Pi billion at one point). The bottom line is it’s all ridiculous, and each company is out to protect its own interests as can only be expected. It would be great if tech giants could fire all their patent attorneys and build innovative products without having to weave through an obstacle course of patents, but that will never happen under the current system. In the meantime, companies will keep suing each other and in the end, everyone — including end users — loses.

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Microsoft says Google is lying in its complaints about patent hoarding

By on August 4, 2011 at 11:01 AM.

Microsoft says Google is lying in its complaints about patent hoarding

Apple sat quiet following Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond’s rant yesterday, as it always does, but Microsoft was not content letting Drummond air his grievances without responding. Drummond on Wednesday penned a post on Google’s blog claiming that Apple, Microsoft and other companies are joining together to “strangle” Android with patent complaints. With all of the patent-related lawsuits against Android partners right now, this certainly seems like a valid complaint. Highlighting a specific example, Drummond wrote that the companies are “banding together to acquire Novell’s old patents (the “CPTN” group including Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel’s old patents (the ‘Rockstar’ group including Microsoft and Apple), to make sure Google didn’t get them.” Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith disagreed, however, and he pointed out a gaping hole in Drummond’s argument: “Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no,” Smith wrote on Twitter. Microsoft’s Corporate Communications boss Frank X. Shaw followed up Smith’s note by posting an image on Twitter of an email between Brad Smith and Google’s General Counsel Kent Walker where Walker refuses Microsoft’s invitation to bid on Nortel’s patent portfolio alongside Microsoft and other companies. The image of the email and a transcription of its contents can be seen below. More →

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Apple, RIM, others win Nortel patents at auction

By on July 1, 2011 at 8:15 AM.

Apple, RIM, others win Nortel patents at auction

A group of companies including Apple, Microsoft, Research In Motion, Sony, EMC and Ericsson offered the winning bid in an auction that will net them Nortel’s extensive portfolio of patents. The bankrupt telecommunications company held roughly 6,000 patents, and the six-company consortium’s winning bid came in at $4.5 billion. Among the big losers were Google, which opened the bidding at $900 million, and Intel. Patents within the massive cache cover a wide range of technologies including wireless, voice, networking, optical data transmission and 4G LTE. RIM said it would be responsible for $77o million of the winning bid, and Ericsson separately stated it would pay $340 million. The rest of the companies in the consortium did not disclose their contributions.

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Google places $900M bid for 6,000 Nortel patents

By on April 4, 2011 at 2:01 PM.

Google places $900M bid for 6,000 Nortel patents

The business of smartphone production is starting to look more like the a John Grisham legal novel. While handset makers try to out-innovate each other with high-end, spec-heavy handsets consumers will flock to, lawyers are trying to out-flank each other with patent suits and red-tape. No longer can you have an armada of talented engineers and a driven executive team, you also must possess a war chest of hardware and software patents to prevent your company from entering litigation limbo — just Google the words Nokia, Apple, and patent if you don’t know what we’re talking about. More →

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Nokia Siemens to acquire Nortel's LTE and CDMA assets

By on June 20, 2009 at 5:01 PM.

Nokia Siemens to acquire Nortel's LTE and CDMA assets

Canada-based Nortel, once North America’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, filed for bankruptcy in January 2009 after a turnaround effort failed. As part of its bankruptcy proceedings, Nortel will sell its LTE and CDMA assets to Nokia Siemens for a cool $650 million. The acquisition will improve Nokia Siemen’s position in both North America and the growing LTE business. The acquisition is subject to approval from both the US bankruptcy court and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice but it’s expected to close in Q3 2009.

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Another blow for Clearwire, Nortel dumps mobile WiMAX

By on January 31, 2009 at 7:42 AM.

Another blow for Clearwire, Nortel dumps mobile WiMAX

Earlier this month, Nokia quietly discontinued production of its N810 WiMAX Edition internet tablet and recalled unsold units from distribution partners. The move was a big one where Sprint and Clearwire are concerned as despite slow sales, the N810 WiMAX Edition was one of the most widely available mobile devices beyond laptop cards to tout WiMAX compatibility. While Clearwire continues to push forward with its WiMAX roll out, another blow came Thursday from Nortel as the company announced it would be discontinuing its mobile WiMAX business and ending its agreement with Alvarion Ltd. Richard Lowe, President of Carrier Networks at Nortel had this to say:

We are taking rapid action to narrow our strategic focus to areas where we can drive maximum return on investment. We will work closely with Alvarion to transition our mobile WiMAX customers to them and assure customers that they will continue to benefit from leading-edge technology and high-quality service. Our continued success in the wireless business requires us to focus our energy on opportunities with long-standing customers. This will position Nortel more effectively to capitalize on future resurgence of carrier spend levels and drive value to the business.

The move is hardly a surprising one – Nortel recently turned the page on a poor 2008 and is scrambling along with the rest of the corporate world to stay afloat during harsh economic times. Shedding its WiMAX business is a step that will help the company reduce costs and focus on business with a more immediate return. As for Alvarion and its WiMAX customers, the company is working overtime to ensure the negative impact is minimal.

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