Microsoft Turned Patent Troll? Inexplicably Sues Motorola Over Googles Android

Is Microsoft Corp., desperate to find some relevance in the mobile market, resorting to patent-troll tactics? The software giants new lawsuit, filed Oct. 1 against Motorola Inc. for its Android-based devices, sure bears the earmarks of such an approach.

Microsoft next week will launch the Windows Phone 7 operating system, which will compete against the open-source, Google-developed Android platform. And Microsoft, having watched Androids inexorable march toward world domination the position Microsoft is accustomed to filling appears none too pleased. Hence, the legal throwdown. 

Microsoft, of course, couches its action against Motorola thats nine counts of alleged patent infringement as necessary to protect vital intellectual property.

The Microsoft innovations at issue in this case help make smartphones smart,” Microsofts Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, wrote in a blog post. Indeed, our patents relate to key features that users have come to expect from every smartphone.  The ability to send and receive e-mail on the go has driven smartphone adoption. Nowadays, everyone expects to receive e-mail from multiple services in real time, to read it on their phones, and to reply or send new messages out in continuous and seamless synchronization with their email services. Microsofts Exchange ActiveSync, a proprietary technology that we developed, makes this possible.” 

Whats most odd about this latest patent suit against Android Oracles already sued Google over the technology is that Motorola only designs the hardware. Not the software thats Googles bag. Also of note is that Motorola is a lone holdout for refusing to make phones for Microsofts Windows Phone 7. HTC, Samsung and LG Electronics all have signed on to create devices for Microsoft, while Motorola has not. So, naturally, Microsoft is suing Motorola.

This all smells like a case of sour grapes as Microsoft grapples with its barely-there status in the mobile device market. The company already shelved the KIN phone earlier this year, faces stiff competition from Google and Apple, and now it cant get Motorola to whip up a Windows Phone 7 phone. Apparently, then, a last-ditch lawsuit is the best idea coming out of Redmond.

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