Microsoft stings Motorola with suit over Android phones

Microsoft took legal action against Motorola (NYSE:MOT) on Friday, alleging Motorola's smartphones running Google's Android platform violate Microsoft patents. The suit represents the latest patent battle involving Android.

Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and Microsoft's deputy general counsel of intellectual property and licensing, said the patents relate to core functionalities of Motorola's Android phones, including synchronizing email, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power. Microsoft is seeking unspecified monetary damages and a permanent injunction on allegedly infringing Motorola products.

Motorola said it will "vigorously defend itself" against the charges.

"We are disappointed that Microsoft prefers to compete over old patents rather than new products," a Google spokesman told the Wall Street Journal. "While we are not a party to this lawsuit, we stand behind the Android platform and the partners who have helped us to develop it."

The suit is notable as Microsoft is preparing to introduce phones running its new Windows Phone 7 platform--which will compete against Android phones. Motorola, once a strong supporter of Microsoft's previous Windows Mobile platform, has thrown its support fully into the Android camp. According to research firm Gartner, Android had 17.2 percent of the smartphone market in the second quarter, and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS had 14.2 percent. Windows Mobile captured 5 percent of the market, down from 9.3 percent in the second quarter of 2009.

This is not the first time in recent months Android has been the subject of legal wrangling. Software giant Oracle filed suit against Google in August, alleging that Android infringes on intellectual property related to the Java programming language, acquired by Oracle in April 2009 when it purchased rival Sun Microsystems for about $7.4 billion. Separately, HTC and Microsoft signed a patent licensing deal in April covering HTC's Android handsets that calls for the smartphone vendor to pay Microsoft royalties on the phones. Finally, Apple filed suit against HTC in March, accusing the Taiwanese smartphone maker of infringing on its hardware and software patents for the iPhone. That lawsuit has been seen as an indirect shot at Google.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article

Related Articles:
HTC inks patent licensing deal with Microsoft for Android
HTC vows to fight Apple's patent suits
What the Apple/HTC lawsuit means for the future of mobile
Apple stings HTC with patent lawsuit
Google calls Oracle suit an 'attack' on open-source Java community
Oracle sues Google over Java code in Android OS

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