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

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 7:24PM EST

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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.

Read [Google’s response to Microsoft’s response to Google] Read [Microsoft’s response to Google’s response to Microsoft’s response to Google]

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.