Microsoft says Google's "hostile" Novell patent claim simply isn't true

Microsoft's General Counsel has responded in a brief tweet to Google's charges that Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle have launched a "hostile," "anti-competitive" campaign against Google using patent laws. His response, essentially, is this: It just ain't so.

Yesterday David Drummond, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, yesterday wrote in a hard-hitting blog post that because of Android's success there is now

a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents.

Drummond cited a number of incidents that he says backs his claim, including an attempt by a consortium, including Microsoft, to buy a big portfolio of Novell patents for $450 million. The U.S. Justice Department put the kibosh on the sale, charging it would have been anti-competitive. Instead of a sale, it became a licensing deal.

Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith fired back at Google, taking a swipe via Twitter. He claimed in a tweet:

Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no.

If Smith is right and Microsoft asked Google to be part of the bid, it blows a big hole in Drummond's argument. How could Microsoft be using Novell patents in an anti-competitive campaign against Google, if it asked the search giant to participate in bidding for some of those patents?

Even if true, however, there's no doubt that Microsoft has taken actions, aside from the Novell patent licensing, that targets Android using the patent laws. That's not illegal, but it's an example of why those laws are outdated and have been used to discourage rather than encourage innovation. They should be changed.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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