Microsoft: Motorola and Google are trying to 'kill video on the Web'

By on February 23, 2012, 6:30 PM

Microsoft has launched a legal assault against Motorola for requesting unfair patent royalties involving video streaming. Filed with the European Commission, the complaint alleges that Motorola has broken a promise to license patents on industry-standard technologies in a "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory" (FRAND) way, but Microsoft says there's nothing FRANDly about Motorola's demands.

"You probably take for granted that you can view videos on your smartphone, tablet, PC, or DVD/Blu-ray player and connect to the Internet without being tied to a cable," Microsoft wrote. The company said that these features are possible through technical standards and the "promises" made by participating companies to license their related patents on reasonable terms. Motorola violated this oath.

"Motorola is demanding that Microsoft take its products off the market, or else remove their standards-based ability to play video and connect wirelessly. The only basis for these actions is that these products implement industry standards, on which Motorola claims patents. Yet when the industry adopted these standards, we all were counting on Motorola and every contributor to live up to their promises."

To use 50 of Motorola's patents, Microsoft would have to pay 2.25% against the final price of products that use H.264 -- or $22.50 for a $1,000 laptop. What's more, that rate supposedly scales unfairly. For instance, a $2,000 laptop would cost Microsoft $45, even though the improved specifications (a larger hard drive, more memory, a titanium chassis and so on) bear no relevance to the patents in question.

By comparison, to use H.264, Microsoft also has to license 2,300 more patents from 29 other firms. The software giant pays this group two cents to use their technology on a $1,000 laptop (it's noted that Windows qualifies for a volume discount, but nobody pays more than $0.20 per unit). "Motorola is demanding that Microsoft pay more than 1,000 times that for use of just 50 patents," Redmond wrote.

"Imagine if every firm acted like Motorola. Windows implements more than 60 standards, and a PC supports about 200. If every firm priced its standard essential patents like Motorola, the cost of the patents would be greater than all the other costs combined in making PCs, tablets, smartphones and other devices. Obviously, this would greatly increase the prices of these devices for consumers."

Having recently purchased Motorola for $12.5 billion, Microsoft asked Google to rectify the matter, but the search giant isn't playing nice, apparently. Microsoft hasn't made it clear what it believes would be a fair rate and considering its reputation for being a bully, the company's plea for sympathy may not go as planned. A similar patent licensing feud is ongoing between Motorola and Apple in Germany.




User Comments: 35

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Guest said:

MS has my respect!

two big Dogs ...Apple and MS .. looking down at the little dog (Motorola) on steroids (Google)..

:)

Guest said:

Boo Hoo. Finally some one is demanding money from microsoft. This is the deal with tyrants. They all want things for free or dirt cheap but when is time to pay they cry foul. $400 cra p software and they cry it they have to pay 20 out of that. Microsoft steals from all around but yet cries when some one puts the foot down. Karma is knocking time to answer the door. Pay up microsoft and stop stealing others intellectual property and acting all innocent.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Covered here [link] ... there are a few interesting comments there. MS is crying because google is playing the game the same way MS was.

Chazz said:

Covered here , it explains the big difference between what motorola is doing and any other company, including Microsoft, does.

Guest #2 Microsoft, just like a lot of companies, pay royalties for a lot of their products. It's how the system is supposed to work.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@Guest

So in your little world it is okay when Google 'steals' other people's patents and blatantly use this stolen tech in their OS/products ?

FRAND can be a very good vehicle for MS in this case, anyway, it will be interesting to see how things turn out in courts (if it goes that far).

Guest said:

I'm waiting for MS to up the ante on those patents they are licensing to Android devise makers. If they wanted they could kill Android a lot easier and quicker than Apple.

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Guest2; You think it's Microsoft that would have to pay for this?

That's absurd, obviously it is we, the consumers that get to pay for this bullying.

I'm fully with Microsoft on this one.

Actually I am surprised it has come to this, we covered the new "WebM" format a while ago.

It is set to replace H.264 as it's royalty free.

My big problem with that is that all current hardware is able to offload H.264, but not WebM

So all current systems that have a too weak CPU to do 1080p decode in the CPU will suffer from this.

It will also significantly increase power consumption and system noise.

Because the small ASIC in a GPU that offloads H.264 is very very efficient, using less than 3w of power.

But doing it in a CPU brute force is very very expensive, using about 20 times as much power!

This in effect makes all current hardware "obsolete" and is my big gripe with WebM

Obviously Motorola/Google managed to proove that the industry is unable to play nice.

Remember that Google removed H.264 support from Chrome, and added support for only WebM.

So this is kind of a conflict of interests...

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Guest said:

I'm waiting for MS to up the ante on those patents they are licensing to Android devise makers. If they wanted they could kill Android a lot easier and quicker than Apple.

Google and Motorola are proving that they can do the same to MS and Apple with video on the web. It levels the playing field.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

On this issue, it wouldn't as Per has very elaborately described in his post. If it breaks out in all out war, Google will be in more trouble IMO when it comes to patent infringement.

fimbles fimbles said:

Patent trolling will be a new olympic sport soon.....

Guest said:

The tables have turned...Google\Motorola are about to rape the F**k out of Apple & Microsoft... Now look who's crying and running to the court because they have to pay ,,, Microsoft should've just played fair from the start and they would be in less Subliminal more convenient position

Guest said:

Also enjoying the much anticipated ICS update on my Asus EEEpad Transformer1

Guest said:

Patent law has gone too far. "Owning" ideas that are so utterly dependant and built on the good will of countless generations before is greed and stupidity at its worst. All these companies have helped create this delusional sticky web for their own short-sighted gains and now must reap the entanglements they have sewn.

Guest said:

It appears that we have a problem with greed and control. Many companies Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc all want to be the big player and they use every method to do this. They have subverted the patent system to control others and extract as much money and pain from others. This slows progress with the consumer paying more and getting less. This will continue until enough people get upset and complain to their representatives so Government will make new regulations in attempt to control Corporate greed. This only causes it's own set of problems. Alas the game continues...

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The tables have turned...Google\Motorola are about to rape the F**k out of Apple & Microsoft... Now look who's crying and running to the court because they have to pay ,,, Microsoft should've just played fair from the start and they would be in less Subliminal more convenient position

Obviously trolling of the worst quality, especially since Android has continuously failed to dent iPad's sales in any significant way, mainly I'd say it is not the hardware which is condemning them to this end but rather the software it self. Secondly Google has stolen lot more patents from others including Apple and MS as stated earlier, hence, it isn't in the ideal situation for them .......again.

mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

The main problem with Motorola trying to get royalties for these patents is that they (before being bought by Google) agreed with Microsoft, Motorola, Cisco, and other companies not to sue based on standard's essential patents, the only company that refused these agreement was Google.

Now Microsoft admits that they do seek royalties for patents that they haven't "contributed" to industry standards. But Motorola, now Google's Motorola, is breaking this "honor-agreement" and seeking to harm the H.264 video standard that is used on every mobile phone, dvd player, tablet, PCs, etc. without even asking for a fair price.

If Google doesn't like software patents, no one does only big companies, maybe instead of spending $12 billion on Motorola Mobility for its patents, they should better spend that money lobbying in D.C. for patent reform.

Guest said:

Oh boo hoo, someone broke their promise? What is this, a school playground? Considering Microsoft are making money every time a device is sold with Android due to patents, this is just a case of "turn around is fair play". Rather than running to the courts perhaps it's finally time we had software patent reform to put an end to this BS.

Guest said:

Google pushes WebM as a patent free alternative to H.264, which mountains of devices have built-in hardware acceleration for.

Google then has Motorola continue to try to patent gouge over H.264.

You guys are really rooting for Google in all this?

Guest said:

It may seem that Microsoft is being picked on but they are fighting for us. Besides, Microsoft will only pass on the price to you the next time you buy windows anyway.

Guest said:

The solution is simple: don't use formats which require the payment of royalties. Use royalty-free audio and video formats and the licensing problem goes away.

Here are some royalty-free audio codecs:

http://www.vorbis.com/

http://opus-codec.org/

Here are some royalty-free video codecs:

http://www.webmproject.org (WebM uses Vorbis for audio, VP8 for video, and the WebM container format)

http://www.theora.org

http://diracvideo.org/

If Microsoft wants video and audio to succeed on the web then all they need to do is use formats which are licensed in a manner consistent with the royalty-free licensing already used by all the mark up, styling, image, and protocol formats that make the Web work in the first place.

Guest said:

All you people acting delighted about Microsoft being on the receiving end of patent trolling - you do realize that in the end it is ultimately you, the consumer, who will end up paying for this crap? The companies will just silently raise their profit margins in other areas to maintain their positive income - and these small increases do add up.

Patent laws in their current form badly need a rewrite, they are not being used for what they were originally created and are akin to cancer to the industry development and innovation.

Guest said:

Look who is talking here, Microsoft accuses Google. It is clear that Google provides free service to the whole world, but Microsoft always try to kill Google (all companies) if possible by suing or any other means. Wasn't Microsoft suing Google for Android? If they think that is fair, now they should accept this one also as fair. Google is playing by the same kind of rules by which Microsoft is playing.

Guest said:

karma's a ***** MS :)

Guest said:

very funny when the story was about mortorla suing apple for that amount, everyone was like YEA, Good, Burn Them etc.... now that is ms everyone is not saying that.... fads.... so old...

RH00D RH00D said:

Guest said:

[...]

Here are some royalty-free audio codecs:

http://www.vorbis.com/

http://opus-codec.org/

Here are some royalty-free video codecs:

http://www.webmproject.org (WebM uses Vorbis for audio, VP8 for video, and the WebM container format)

http://www.theora.org

http://diracvideo.org/

[...]

Thanks for the info, Guest. Appreciated!

TJGeezer said:

mario said:

If Google doesn't like software patents, no one does only big companies, maybe instead of spending $12 billion on Motorola Mobility for its patents, they should better spend that money lobbying in D.C. for patent reform.

Do you really think the U.S. congress is capable of doing anything to benefit anyone but the biggest corporations, except under extreme public pressure? That'd be something new, wouldn't it...

Guest said:

"By comparison, to use H.264, Microsoft also has to license 2,300 more patents from 29 other firms."

wah. whining from the monopolistic bully that has had its way and amassed billions and billions

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@Guest #29

It doesn't mean one may allow another company to 'bully' others just for the sake of their own good right? In this specific case Google is absurdly wrong, it is the whiner which is unable to shed the accusation of patent theft, hence it is trying to get even by flouting FRAND.

Guest said:

Right so your best alternative is to get rid of Windows altogether and problem solved. Hint Ubuntu is a pretty good FREE OS.

Guest said:

Wall Street and their skveeing sleezebag lawyers are going to kill the internet, yet.

Guest said:

Just goes to show how hopeless the world is.

You take something we all use and love, and somebody has to come along and try to rape everybody to make a buck. It's sad that it's Google and Motorola this time, but it also shows that most big companies are the same. $$$ over ethics.

Guest said:

Would you not agree its time these stupid patent laws are dropped... its getting better and better every single day, isn't it?

Guest said:

Some people reading and posting here are forgetting the bigger picture. Apple and M$ have been relentlessly attacking Android with questionable patents. If they want to play the patent game, then let them play. Google has every right to defend itself and it's doing so here. Notice that Google isn't going out and strong-arming any and all competition the way M$ does. Google is specifically targeting M$ because of the ridiculous licensing fees against Android OEMs.

Lesson to M$ and crApple: If you play with fire, expect to get burned.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The biggest issue with this argument is that no body has 'questioned' these 'questionable patents', instead every manufacturer just decided to pay to patent holders, which proves just one point, i.e. Google has been a blatant thief in the first place. However, I do believe that any such payments must be within reason. So far, it is Google which has been benefiting one way or another of this theft while leaving its partners to fend off for themselves.

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