Google withdraws ITC patent claims against Microsoft over video technology

Google withdraws ITC patent claims against Microsoft over video technology

Google has withdrawn patents claims it had previously filed against Microsoft over the company’s wish to use video compression technology with the Xbox and smartphones, All Things D reports.

By virtue of its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola, Google owns two standards-essential patents that Microsoft is looking to license in order to gain access to the technology, however the firms have differing opinions on licensing fees. The disagreement has run for almost a year but, following the closure of the FTC investigation, Google is taking an about turn on its stance in the case against Microsoft.

Indeed, one element of the FTC report — which Microsoft was a very vocal critic of — was that Google must work to license essential patents and not use them for the purpose of legal action. Initially it was uncertain what would happen in this legal case, given that ruling, but now Google has put an end to that concern.

While that is a sensible move that will help cut down on essential patent being used in legal cases — essential patents are industry standard and typically used by multiple companies, giving the patent controller potentially strong leverage — Microsoft is concerned that the FTC has allowed for exceptions. The firm outlined its thinking in a new blog post published today.

The FTC’s order grants Google leeway to seek to block shipments of other firms’ products under circumstances not contemplated by the DOJ/PTO statement. Rather than establish a clear rule that holders of standard essential patents should not seek an injunction against any willing licensee, the FTC’s order allows such lawsuits. In particular, the FTC’s order says (in Section IV.F) that Google may abandon its promise to make its standard essential patents available on reasonable terms with regard to any firm that has tried to obtain an injunction against any product made by Google on the basis of that firm’s standard essential patents. Google can seek a product injunction even if the other firm is willing to take a license to Google’s patents on reasonable terms.

Microsoft argues that this allowance undermines the entire FTC decision. It argues that the organization should “think again” about its patent order for Google.

We urge the FTC to establish a straightforward, clear precedent requiring all firms to honor their standard essential patent licensing commitments as to any willing licensee.

The FTC decision last week was largely seen as a victory for Google since the changes that the organization requested that the search giant make are not as radical as many had assumed. Microsoft, for one, was confused by the fact that the FTC did not solicit it for advise on the proposals for Google. The Redmond firm called the resolution ‘a missed opportunity’.

The ITC case between the two will rumble on, however, as one patent — which is not standards essentials — remains in the Google claim.

Headline image via caccamo / Flickr

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