In the wake of a back-room agreement with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and what appeared to be an ever-escalating series of battles with Microsoft, Google abruptly and unexpectedly dropped its patent-infringement claims against the software giant this week. Part of Google’s agreement with the FTC involved the standard-essential patents involved in the Microsoft case.
Motorola Mobility, which had launched the legal attack on Microsoft before being swallowed up by Google for its vast patent portfolio, officially asked the International Trade Commission (ITC) to terminate its claims on Tuesday.
“Motorola Mobility … respectfully requests termination of the subject Investigation,” a filing with the ITC reads. “This termination is sought on the basis of Motorola Mobility’s withdrawal of its allegations against Respondent Microsoft Corporation pertaining to the H.264 patents in this Investigation.”
The case dates back to 2010, when Motorola complained to the ITC that Microsoft was violating four of its patents, including one related to H.264 video playback, in Windows and Xbox products. After complaining that Google was charging extortion prices on patents that are required to be licensed for “fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory terms,” Microsoft was found to have violated two of Motorola’s patents in April 2012. (Motorola dropped the other two from contention in October.) A fourth patent, involving peer-to-peer networking, isn’t considered standard-essential and is out of play as well.
“We’re pleased that Google has finally withdrawn these claims for exclusion orders against Microsoft, and hope that it will now withdraw similar claims pending in other jurisdictions as required by the FTC Consent Order,” a Microsoft statement notes.
The patent relief is the first bit of good news between the two industry giants, which have been bickering in rather public and petty ways for weeks. Most recently, Google announced that it would drop support for Microsoft’s Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) in Gmail and Google Calendar, harming users trying to access those services from Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Windows Phone. And this past week, Google curiously blocked access to Google Maps from Windows Phone, though the firm recanted after a groundswell of complaints. Certainly, Microsoft’s Scroogled campaign didn’t help matters either.