Microsoft on Wednesday filed a complaint with antitrust regulators in Europe, alleging that Google and Motorola Mobility are overcharging for patents that cover basic mobile and computing tasks. The action comes about a week after regulators in both the United States and European Union (EU) approved Google's $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility.
"Microsoft filed a formal competition law complaint with the European Commission (EC) against Motorola Mobility and Google," Microsoft Vice President Dave Heiner wrote in a blog post explaining the action. "We have taken this step because Motorola is attempting to block sales of Windows PCs, our Xbox game console, and other products. Their offense? These products enable people to view videos on the Web and to connect wirelessly to the Internet using industry standards."
Heiner says that Motorola Mobility and other firms that contributed to these open standards promised that they would make their patents available on fair and reasonable terms, and would not use them to block competitors from shipping their products.
"Motorola has broken its promise," Heiner wrote. "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."
Google hadn't coincidentally pledged it would license patents on reasonable terms in order to obtain the OK of the EU for its purchase of Motorola Mobility.
Google reacted violently to the action, at first.
"We haven't seen Microsoft's complaint, but it's consistent with the way [the company uses] the regulatory process to attack competitors," Google spokesperson Al Verney said. "It's particularly ironic, given [its] track record in this area and collaboration with patent trolls."
But after reviewing the complaint, Google said it was open to negotiating with Microsoft in a "mutually beneficial manner."
Microsoft's complaint joins a similar complaint against Motorola Mobility that was brought by Apple, also with the EU. And the EU competition chief, Joaquin Almunia, says it's possible that the EC will group the two complaints as one, assuming they're nearly identical. "We are looking into this," Almunia said.