Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has scored another victory against Google-owned Motorola over the cost of licensing some of Motorola’s patents. Microsoft has been awarded $15 million in damages, BBC News reports.
Microsoft’s essential standard patents
Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) claims that two patents that are involved in the H.264 video compression standard and 802.11 wireless standard are ‘essential standard patents’ that are important for industry-wide innovation. Owners of such patents are obligated to make them available at reasonable prices to prevent them from pushing other companies out of the market.
Microsoft also sought damages for an injunction that Motorola brought against it in Germany. Microsoft preemptively moved its warehouse to the Netherlands in case Motorola won the case, costing it $11 million.
Anyone following the mobile market has gotten used to seeing these types of intellectual property questions being used as cudgels to punish rivals. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) sued Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) for $4 billion over alleged back patent payments, though Microsoft only paid $1.8 million in the end. Microsoft is currently suing for license fees from every company that uses Google’s Android OS on their smartphones or tablets.
Apple vs Samsung
The battle between Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) has been particularly complicated, with both companies accusing the other of intellectual property violations over the iPhone and Galaxy smartphones. The battle has been fought in courts around the world with different decisions handed down country-by-country.
With so much competition between smartphone manufacturers going on in the court room instead of the market, it’s no surprise that there have been renewed calls for patent reform. Timothy B. Lee at the Washington Post reports that conservatives are finally warming to the idea that tech patents are different from other forms of intellectual property and that the laws governing them should reflect that difference.
“Litigation over software patents has became a drag, not a boon, to technological innovation,” says the Manhattan Institute paper that has gotten some conservatives to reconsider the issue. “Software patents are hard to define, enabling aggressive plaintiffs’ lawyers exploiting the maze of U.S. legal rules to extract wealth from the nation’s most innovative companies.” The report concludes that other patents, such as pharmaceuticals, are easier to define and therefore harder to abuse, and that IT patents need to be specifically addressed with new laws.