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Motorola fires back at Microsoft patent suits

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Motorola has retaliated against Microsoft’s latest patent lawsuit, with subsidiary Motorola Mobility filing its own suits alleging Microsoft violates some 16 Motorola patents in its Windows operating system, mobile software, and Xbox 360 products.

“Motorola’s R&D and intellectual property are of great importance to the company and are renowned worldwide,” said Motorola Mobility’s corporate VP of intellectual property Kirk Dailey, in a statement. “We are committed to protecting the interests of our shareholders, customers, and other stakeholders and are bringing this action against Microsoft in order to halt its infringement of key Motorola patents.”

Motorola’s suit allege that Windows’ email, digital video encoding, and object architecture infringe on Motorola patents, including products like Exchange, Outlook, Messenger, and Windows Live instant messaging. Motorola also claims it has patents covering aspects of Windows mobile software related to Windows Marketplace, Bing maps, as well as video encoding, Wi-Fi, and graphical password technologies included in the Xbox platform. Motorola is requesting an injunction barring Microsoft from using Motorola’s technology, as well as compensation for infringement.

Microsoft has not commented on the suit.

The lawsuits are the last salvo in a heightening conflict between the two companies. Yesterday, Microsoft sued Motorola, alleging Motorola is trying to overcharge Microsoft for licensing video encoding and Wi-Fi technologies that are supposed to be licensed out under “reasonable and non-discriminatory” terms via standards bodies. That suit followed Microsoft suing Motorola over technology in its Android phones, claiming the smartphones infringe on nine Microsoft patents. Motorola’s new lawsuits might be part of a broader strategy, raising the stakes for Microsoft in an effort to bring the software giant back to the bargaining table. The technology industry is rife with long-running patent battles; many involve waves of suits and countersuits as companies negotiate for position and leverage to work out settlements in their favor.

Just last month, Microsoft and Motorola indicated they might be willing to work together to develop Windows Phone 7 devices; however, the escalating tensions between the two companies casts doubt on their ability to work together to support Microsoft’s new mobile platform.

[Update: Microsoft has released a statement from corporate VP and deputy general counsel for IP and licensing Horacio Gutierrez: “We are still reviewing Motorola’s filing, which we just received. This move is typical of the litigation process and we are not surprised.” Gutierrez also indicated Microsoft still intends to pursue its litigation against Motorola.]

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