Microsoft Argues Motorola’s Policy On PatentsBy: Shawn Hess - February 22, 2012
Microsoft has filed formal complaints with European Union’s competition regulator regarding the price Motorola is charging for the use of patented technology. Microsoft is claiming the the 2.25% they are charging for a video patent is well over what other patent holders charge for their use. For example, Motorola receives almost $23 dollars for patents that many others receive 2 cents for. This is a pressing matter for many in the industry as Motorola is on the path to changing hands; Google has just acquired the company for $12.5 million.
Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, Dave Heiner, comments on the complaint in a recent blog post:
“We have taken this step because Motorola is attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, our Xbox game console and other products,”
“Motorola is on a path to use standard essential patents to kill video on the Web, and Google as its new owner doesn’t seem to be willing to change course,”
“If every firm priced its standard essential patents like Motorola, the cost of the patents would be greater than all the other costs combined in making PCs, tablets, smartphones and other devices,”
“Obviously, this would greatly increase the prices of these devices for consumers.”
EU rules for essential technology and industry standards require that patent holders allow other companies use technology at a fair price to ensure fair competition. It is also important to consumers because it allows products from different manufacturers to function in a similar manner and in many cases to share compatibility on many features. Google and Motorola should take note of this guideline as the EU has already launched an investigation of Samsung for similarly oppressive patent enforcement.
I think it is important to control companies in this capacity. It is true that technology is more affordable than ever before, but if we allow certain patent holders to drive up costs for their competition, it has the potential to create a monopoly and eliminate true consumer choice. I will be following the progression of these complaints to the EU.