Microsoft Attorney Expands On the Company's Android Position

by Ostatic Staff - Oct. 31, 2011

Last week, we took note of the fact that two of Microsoft's lawyers, Brad Smith and Horacio Gutierrez, have a post up regarding Microsoft's announcement of its tenth license agreement providing coverage under its patent portfolio for Android mobile phones and tablets. They also note that Microsoft has inked nine Android agreements in recent months, and that "companies accounting for over half of all Android devices have now entered into patent license agreements with Microsoft." While it sometimes seems non-obvious, Microsoft gains as Android gains. Now, Gutierrez is defending the situation as perfectly normal in a new interview.

Google has previously reacted to Microsoft's stance toward Android and licensing in a blog post that says:

"Android’s success has yielded something else: a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents....Microsoft's objective has been to keep from Google and Android device-makers any patents that might be used to defend against their attacks."

In a new interview with The San Francisco Chronicle, Microsoft attorney Gutierrez notes that many early-stage technologies witness licensing and patent disagreements as they mature, and smartphones are no different:

"As we've seen historically, there is a period of unrest and a period of readjustment, until the claims on the ownership of different pieces of technology are well known. There's a period of actually licensing and cross-licensing that makes these issues disappear into the background...When you buy the device as a consumer, you get it out of the box and enjoy it immediately. What you don't see is an invisible web of licensing and cross-licensing arrangements that actually make it possible."

Gutierrez points to intellectual property that Microsoft owns regarding the plumbing of operating systems as central to why it is pursuing licensing and legal strategies surrounding Android:

"But then there are all these other features that just make the phone much more efficient, things that are embedded deeply in the operating system. Microsoft has invested for decades more money than anyone else in research and development directed toward the efficiency of operating systems. These devices have moved from having a rudimentary phone system to being a full-fledged computer, with a sophisticated, modern operating system...In doing that, they have really stood on the shoulder of companies like Microsoft who made all these billions of dollars in investments."

It is true that one thing people forget about Microsoft is that the company has been developing operating system technology for a long time. Google was founded in the late 1990s, many years after Microsoft had been collecting OS-related patents and watching companies such as IBM abandon operating systems for personal hardware devices. Like it or not, Google is going to have tolerate patent and IP battles related to Android for the foreseeable future.