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We’ve seen this before: Microsoft today filed a patent lawsuit against Motorola, saying that the device maker’s Android phones infringed on nine of its patents.
Microsoft filed the action in both a Washington District Court and the International Trade Commission.
In a statement, Microsoft deputy general counsel and corporate vice president Horacio Gutierrez said that the patents relate to functionality in Motorola’s Android devices that are “essential to the smartphone user experience” — including meeting scheduling, contacts and calendars, email synchronization, and reporting changes in battery and cellular signal strength to applications.
In March, Apple filed a similar complaint against phone maker HTC for its Android device. Apple later expanded its suit in June, but HTC responded with a countersuit in May, alleging that Apple was infringing on its patents.
Microsoft formed a patent agreement with HTC in April, which may have given it some protection against further Apple bullying. The agreement gives HTC coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio for its Android phones, and Microsoft will receive royalties from the company in exchange.
It’s strange that Microsoft resorted to a lawsuit for Motorola, instead of forming a similar patent agreement. (Then again, this lawsuit may be the result of Motorola refusing such an agreement.) The action also coincides with Microsoft promoting three new presidents — including Andy Lees, who spearheaded Windows Phone 7 development and is now president of the mobile communications division.
Motorola used to be a big Windows Mobile partner, so the lawsuit may be some sort of roundabout revenge by Microsoft. Motorola has no plans for Windows Phone 7 devices and is instead devoting itself to Android.
View Microsoft’s full suit below: