Google gets into patent tussle with Nokia, Microsoft

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), the new owner of hardware firm Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI), filed a complaint with the European Commission against Nokia (NYSE:NOK) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), accusing the two partners of using their smartphone patents against others in the industry. 

In its complaint, Google alleged that claimed Microsoft and Nokia transferred 1,200 patents for assertion to a group called MOSAID, which Google deemed a "patent troll."

"Nokia and Microsoft are colluding to raise the costs of mobile devices for consumers, creating patent trolls that side-step promises both companies have made," Google said in a statement. "They should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices."

Microsoft, which separately has entered into numerous patent-licensing agreements with handset vendors that use Google's Android platform, including HTC, LG and Samsung, called Google's complaint a "desperate tactic" by a company facing regulatory scrutiny over its search and digital advertising businesses. Google spent $12.5 billion to acquire Motorola in part for its patent portfolio, which it hopes will help protect Android licensees from patent litigation.

Nokia was also dismissive of Google's complaint, which it deemed "frivolous." "Though we have not yet seen the complaint, Google's suggestion that Nokia and Microsoft are colluding on intellectual property rights is wrong," Nokia said in a statement. "Both companies have their own intellectual property portfolios and strategies and operate independently."

Nokia said it agrees with Google "that Android devices have significant IP infringement issues, and would welcome constructive efforts to stop unauthorized use of Nokia intellectual property."

According to a recent analysis by industry analyst Chetan Sharma, based on patent grants in both the United States and Europe from 1995 to 2012, the mobile patent market was led by Nokia, Samsung, Alcatel-Lucent (NASDAQ:ALU), Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC), Microsoft and IBM. In 2011, the patent market was led by Samsung, IBM, Sony, Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), Microsoft and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM).

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Seattle Times article
- see this The Verge article
- see this separate Reuters article

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