Google Claims Microsoft And Nokia Are Using Patents To Violate Antitrust Laws
from the who-is-this-helping dept
I’ve pointed out a few times in the past that I don’t think it really helps either company when Microsoft and Google to trade antitrust allegations against each other. Both companies are facing (or have faced) significant antitrust questions themselves, and raising them against each other just seems like sour grapes. A few months ago, Microsoft filed an EU complaint against Google, arguing that its plans for licensing the Motorola patents it acquired amounted to an antitrust violation. Now, Google has hit back, filing a similar accusation back at Microsoft (and Nokia), arguing that their deal, transferring some 2,000 patents and patent applications to Canadian patent troll Mosaid, represents an antitrust violation:
Nokia and Microsoft are colluding to raise the costs of mobile devices for consumers, creating patent trolls that side- step promises both companies have made.
I’m still pretty damn skeptical of either claim. The fact that both were filed in the EU is telling, as the EU generally has a much more aggressive interpretation of antitrust law, meaning that both of these filings really look like two giants slapping each other around for sport, rather than competing in the marketplace.
The only thing that I do find kind of interesting about both filings is the fact that they’re focused on the use of patents as a lever for antitrust activity. Patents are, by their very nature, a government-granted monopoly. And there have been arguments made that, as such, their usage deserves extra scrutiny when it comes to antitrust analysis. Though, on the flip side, people might point out that, as government-granted monopolies, patents are immune from antitrust analysis, since by their very nature, they’re a government-granted allowance for antitrust behavior. It is, after all, the government granting a monopoly. Should it really be any surprise that companies then do monopolistic things with them?
Either way, I don’t see either filing ending well for either company involved. If anything, we can just hope that it helps demonstrate how patents themselves are tools of monopolistic antitrust behavior.