Microsoft invited Google to Novell patent feast

By Liam Tung on Aug 8, 2011 9:57 AM
Filed under Hardware

Google didn't fall for it.

Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith has hit back at Google’s claim that the Redmond giant, Apple and Oracle were conspiring to cripple Android with bogus patent claims.

“Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them [the patents] from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no,” Smith Tweeted.

Last week, Google's general counsel David Drummond blasted Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and "other companies" for colluding to hamper Android by buying up patents that would be used against Google.

One of the patent deals Drummond singled out as evidence of an anti-competitive conspiracy was the CPTN consortium’s bid for a stack of Novell patents. The consortium was led by Microsoft and included Apple, Oracle and EMC.

US regulators halted the deal in April, fearing that closing off the hoard of open source patents Novell held would be a threat to innovation, and demanding they remain under an open source license. 

Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of communications posted alleged email correspondence between Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel and Microsoft’s Smith, showing that Google turned down the offer to jointly bid for the Novell patents last October. 

“After talking with a few people here, it sounds as though for various reasons a joint bid wouldn’t be advisable for us on this one,” Walker allegedly wrote in the email.    

“Free advice for David Drummond – next time check with Kent Walker before you blog. :),” Microsoft's Shaw quipped.

Whether it was invited to join the bid did not change much, according to Drummond, who labelled Microsoft's offer a trap to silence Google.

“If you think about it, it's obvious why we turned down Microsoft’s offer,” Drummond said. 

“Microsoft's objective has been to keep from Google and Android device-makers any patents that might be used to defend against their attacks.

"A joint acquisition of the Novell patents that gave all parties a license would have eliminated any protection these patents could offer to Android against attacks from Microsoft and its bidding partners.

“Making sure that we would be unable to assert these patents to defend Android — and having us pay for the privilege — must have seemed like an ingenious strategy to them. We didn't fall for it.”

 
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