back to article Microsoft blasts 'web video killer' Motorola Mobility in EU gripe

Microsoft filed a formal antitrust complaint against Motorola Mobility this morning in Brussels, following the European Commission's decision to clear Google's takeover of the mobile biz earlier this month. Redmond's beef with Google relates to "standard essential patents" that MS rather hysterically claimed could be used by …

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  1. Shaun 1

    Apple

    I believe Apple have also lodged a complaint

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Apple

      Specifically, they've complained that they patented complaining about abuse of patents, and want damages from Microsoft.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Costs

    MS currently licence 2,300 patents relating to H.264 for 2 cents per unit. Google/Motorola want $22.50 for the remaining 50 per unit

    1. hexx

      Re: Costs

      yep, and that's pretty much also the reason why apple filed their complain. MM wants fees based not on the chip/part which implements the technology but percentage of the retail price which honestly is rather unfair.

    2. kirovs

      Re: Costs

      2300 patents X null value should equal 0, not 2. It is a highway robbery in my book.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: Costs

        "2300 patents X null value should equal 0, not 2. It is a highway robbery in my book."

        So where's the video codec you developed all by yourself and give away for free?

        1. Jim T
          FAIL

          Re: Re: Re: Costs

          Doesn't matter if you implement one yourself, you'll still be infringing on these patents.

          That's kind of the problem with patents.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Costs

      >Google/Motorola want $22.50 for the remaining 50 per unit.

      .....or naff-all to use WebM. Pretty easy choice really.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: Costs

        Problem is WebM also contains technology covered in other patents, not just Google's and Motorola's. If Google doesn't set a reasonable fee for H.264 then you'll find the others won't be as willing when it comes to WebM.

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Re: Costs

        Which is exactly what is happening here.

        You either have to pay 50 quid for "licensed" web or use the free web. Google is killing H264 by the backdoor method.

        MSFT and Apple should have thought of this before they officially declared joining forces on killing WebM about a year ago.

        Live by the sword, die by the sword.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re: Re: Costs

          Why are you morons cheering for the death of H.264? It was already the industry standard for video before Google went on their little pissing match.

          We don't need another format for the web when all of video media is already transmitted using H.264 or changing to it soon. Freeview HD, most satellite channels, most European digital TV, most US digital broadcasts, Blu-ray, mobile devices - all use H.264.

          Sometimes the Google fanboism knows no boundaries!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Thumb Down

            anti-google fanbois

            Sometimes the anti-google fanboism knows no boundaries...

            H264 is patent encumbered, expensive (if you want to compress), and is stupidly limited. As an example, see what you can do with a "amateur" HD camera, and discover that the biggest difference from a good "amateur" and a "pro" camera is the price. Shoot a movie using the "amateur". Try then selling the result. You'll see what the MPEG-LA trolls will do to you.

            And that is just one of the reasons to wanting to see H264 dead and buried.

            It is convenient to decode, yes, for now. They have only kept it free to decode because Google came up with WebM. But the plan was always to kill WebM with the typical bogus patents that Apple and MSFT are so in love with, and then start charging.

            1. hexx

              Re: anti-google fanbois

              please check licensing conditions when you have to pay and so on. you'll see that your argument will start to loose solid grounds. h264 is pretty much on every single device, from capture to distribution.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Stop

              @jbernardo Re: anti-google fanbois

              The paranoia and misinformation around H.264/AVC licensing is frankly shocking. If only people read the actual licensing conditions at:

              http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/avc/Documents/AVC_TermsSummary.pdf (it's less than 4 pages)

              So no, MPEG-LA's H.264 license is not responsible for the price difference between Pro and Amateur cameras. That's frankly a ridiculous theory. H.264 license costs are the same for all types of devices and cameras, ranging from free to a maximum of 20 cents per device (with a maximum yearly cap too).

              There are no WebM Professional cameras - don't even know any amateur ones - but my guess if there were you'd see the same price differences, just like "Professional" anything is always much more expensive.

              Also no, MPEG-LA will not do anything to you for recording and selling your commercial video, unless you are one of:

              "(i) replicators of physical media, and (ii) service/content providers (e.g., cable, satellite, video DSL, internet and mobile) of VOD, PPV and electronic downloads to End Users)".

              Even if you are one of the above the fees range from FREE to a maximum of TWO cents per title. Expensive, really?

          2. Jim T
            Thumb Down

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Costs

            H.264 cannot be implemented by a free browser, such as chromium, firefox, konqueror, etc.

            WebM is an attempt to write a new codec which can be used freely across the web.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              WTF?

              Free browser

              More nonsense, Of course H.264 can implemented in free browsers, by simply using the codec that comes with the system.

              Exactly what Microsoft showed with the H.264 extension for Chrome and Firefox.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Free browser

                More outright lies. What MSFT did with that extension was to add support to the browsers RUNNING ON WINDOWS. The support wasn't added to any free browser, as it doesn't work when the free browser is used on a open operating system.

                I still have to understand how your lies get so many up-votes...

  3. g e

    Only because it's cheaper

    to pay the M$ tithe than a pay patent lawyer to prove you don't have to

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Prove it

      You can't and neither can the licensees lawyers

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only because it's cheaper

      I have to ask - does "g e" stand for "Google Employee"?

      M$? Really? come on, it's not the 90s anymore.

  4. Miek
    Linux

    " In fact, more than 70 percent of Android devices are now licensed to use Microsoft’s patent portfolio." -- regardless of whether we want to use the $MS patent portfolio or not.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      No. If you don't want to pay towards that portfolio, don't buy such a device.

      The device you buy probably uses hundreds of patents, oddly enough you don't get to pick and choose which when buying a consumer item for a few £hundred.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not Members

    Motorola’s patents are essential to H.264, but it's not in the MPEG-LA licensor pool: http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/AVC/Pages/Licensors.aspx

    This is google trying to kill H.264 so it can push WebM

    1. sisk

      Re: Not Members

      At least then we'd FINALLY have a standard codec for HTML5 video then. Maybe it's the evil way to go about it, but are we going to get a standard any other way?

      Not that I wolud support such an evil action, regardless of the ends.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: Not Members

        Have a look around you, do you see any WebM video camera?

        Any WebM HD media streamer?

        Not even the RaspberryPi supports WebM natively.

        It's silly to think WebM will be a standard. Google is being delusional - and to be honest a giant dick -over this.

        1. hexx
          Thumb Up

          Re: Re: Re: Not Members

          precisely!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re: Re: Not Members

          >It's silly to think WebM will be a standard....Google is being delusional

          http://www.webmproject.org/about/supporters/

          CCLers:

          http://www.webm-ccl.org/members/

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Not Members

            Lot's of colourful logos. But products?

            What can I buy to HD WebM outside of a laptop/desktop computer?

            You seem even more delusional than Google.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Not Members

              WebM: no DRM, no offline support, no adaptive streams, no Live streaming, no hardware acceleration on any platform (so battery killer).

              but they still want to hurt H.264 and presumably MPEG-DASH

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                @AC 00:45

                DRM? Adaptive Streaming? Get a clue. WebM is a codec.

                First silicon to market which accelerated WebM was from RockChip, couple of options from them now - Broadcom/VideoCore and TI-OMAP also support it. AMD & ARM are working on it - I guess as they don't fancy the RTL which Google has also open sourced.

                5 up votes and everything you said [apart from the last sentence] is wrong, interesting that.

                As to hurting the king of patent trolls, they've already been there and done that simply by buying and opening it - the consequent liberalisation has already cost him, and saved us, millions.

        3. Jon Press

          Re: Re: Re: Not Members

          Pi is a bad example - it will support ONLY H.264 natively because of licensing costs for other codecs so ironically it had to ditch MPEG-2. Try offering as an individual to license that option back and you probably won't get far. That's ultimately the problem - you can't have what you want even if you're prepared to pay.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pi is a bad example.

            No, the Pi is a good example because it shows WebM isn't an option when it comes to hardware decoding.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Not Members

      Certainly looks like that but it's too early to tell. I love the moniker the MPEG-LA gives itself: "patent pool". Sounds so much like a party when it is just another cartel.

      Wonder how long before we start seeing phones with nice WebM badges on them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Charlie Clark

        "Patent pool" is the industry's terminology, it's not just the MPEG-LA that calls themselves that.

        "One of the first patent pools was formed in 1856, by sewing machine manufacturers Grover, Baker, Singer, and Wheeler & Wilson, all accusing the others of patent infringement."

      2. big_D Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: Re: Not Members

        If WebM is so good and cool, why doesn't Android use it for making videos?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    $22.50 per device for Google's h.264 patents?

    I hope they come etched in gold leaf.

    Google's new motto "Do the most evil"

  7. John G Imrie

    Lets look at the time line a bit shall we

    1) Google an announces plans to merge with Motorola Mobile

    2) M$ and Apple complain to world + dog

    3) World + dog look at Merger and clear it.

    4) Google announce that there will be no changes to MM's patent licensing charges.

    5) M$ and Apple complain to world + dog that Google are over charging

    Don't you think that M$ and Apple should have complained to MM before the merger?

    1. hexx

      Re: Lets look at the time line a bit shall we

      it's got nothing to do with the merger. it's the fact that MM is trying to squeeze more money from them and not following their commitment. research a bit this subject, click on the links in the article, read through it.

    2. hexx

      Re: Lets look at the time line a bit shall we

      this is from the linked article, just to give you an idea what's going on:

      "Unfortunately, Motorola has refused to make its patents available at anything remotely close to a reasonable price. For a $1,000 laptop, Motorola is demanding that Microsoft pay a royalty of $22.50 for its 50 patents on the video standard, called H.264. As it turns out, there are at least 2,300 other patents needed to implement this standard. They are available from a group of 29 companies that came together to offer their H.264 patents to the industry on FRAND terms. Microsoft’s patent royalty to this group on that $1,000 laptop?

      Two cents.

      That’s right. Just 2 cents for use of more than 2,300 patents. (Windows qualifies for a nice volume discount, but no firm has to pay more than 20 cents per unit.) Motorola is demanding that Microsoft pay more than 1,000 times that for use of just 50 patents.

      And that is for a mid-level, $1,000 laptop. For a $2,000 laptop, Motorola is demanding double the royalty - $45. Windows is the same on both laptops, and so is the video support in Windows. But the high-end laptop will have a bigger hard drive, more memory, perhaps a titanium case—and Motorola is demanding a hefty royalty on all of this, even though none of these features implements Motorola’s video patents."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: Lets look at the time line a bit shall we

        Yeah but on the other hand Microsoft is charging Android makers more than 3% from total cost per device so why Morotola can not charge a reasonable 2.25% ?

        Oh and by the way, you should check your math, Motorola is asking for constant 2.25% of the price of the device for a 1000$ laptop as well as for a 2000$ laptop. It's the price that doubles not the percentage. At least Motorola is asking that in exchange for real patents not for unspecified ones like MS does.

        Besides that, who can decide what is reasonable and what is not ? Is a government going to impose the maximum price for the precious intellectual property companies own ?

        not to mention that Microsoft could enter a cross-licensing agreement with Motorola and end up paying nothing. You know, patents allegedly infringed by Android could be exchanged against patents owned by Motorola, it is not that uncommon.

        1. hexx

          Re: Re: Re: Lets look at the time line a bit shall we

          not my maths, that's quote from this article:

          http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_on_the_issues/archive/2012/02/22/google-please-don-t-kill-video-on-the-web.aspx

          and MS doesn't charge 3% on standard essential patents - that's the difference.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Lets look at the time line a bit shall we

            [quote] Microsoft will reap $444 million in licensing fees from Android manufacturers this year, charging $3-6 per mobile device, according to a report from Goldman Sachs. [/quote]

            It's even worse then if you're telling us MS charges that much for bogus or non-essential patents. Cross-license and it will cost nothing, that's the rule and it's not Google who invented it.

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Bob Vistakin
      WTF?

      Re: Lets look at the time line a bit shall we

      Yes lets.

      Stage -1: Apple claim to have invented rounded corners so block few Android sales.

      Stage 0: Microsoft claim $5 per handset from Android sales

      Then Google retaliates and they are suddenly evil?

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: Re: Lets look at the time line a bit shall we

        If Android genuinely infringes patents then it's reasonable they should pay... that's different from pre-existing arrangements for companies to work together regarding patents which are ubiquitous to web standards.

        1. Jim T
          FAIL

          Re: Re: Re: Lets look at the time line a bit shall we

          Microsoft wont say what patents android allegedly infringes, so any attempt to stop infringing is impossible.

          Software patents have an appalling track record for being obvious stuff. Bill Gates said as much in his 1980's memo to get more patents, something along the line of "Just think of what's coming along the line and patent it, it doesn't have to be groundbreaking". The whole patent licensing issue is on extremely bad terms from microsoft.

        2. sisk

          Re: Re: Re: Lets look at the time line a bit shall we @JDX

          If Android genuinely infringes patents, then which ones are they? That's the problem I've had with the whole MS patent on Android thing from the get go. MS keeps screaming that Android (and Linux in general for that matter) infringes their patents, but have they ever told anyone specifically which patents are being infringed?

      2. hexx

        Re: Re: Lets look at the time line a bit shall we

        @Bob - I think you don't understand difference between standard essential patents and patents that are not essential to a standard/design/whatever

        - meaning that second group encourages you to either pay license fee or work around the patent in question, which means there are another ways to achieve desired result or you can develop your own system/way how to achieve that result which is different than patented technology.

  8. K
    FAIL

    M$ and Apple are just bitter...

    beside, I think Apple views is purely on the basis they fear a bitch slapping from the Chocolate Factory, so they're looking to cut off the hand that will deliver it..

    I know its probably an unfair view, but they've been bullying HTC, Sumsung etc.. so it'll serve Apple right when that slap finally lands :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah and fuck any chance of having a sane video format over that slap.

      Great plan. /s

  9. Wang N Staines

    So, a lot of companies spent lots of money on R&D which are used in standard tech. and everyone else must pay at FRAND.

    MS & Apple can charge what they want for their patents. These example include FATS, icons displayed in rows, rounded corner on tablets, retrieving phone number from text, 3D UI that's displayed behind the screen. hahahaa.

    MS & Apple are making their money on the back some really innovative like IBM, Motorola etc... And they are still complain.

    This is even more so for Apple. There's nothing coming out of them even worth mentioning.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And neither apple or Microsoft are abusing their FRAND patents

      1. Wang N Staines

        Apple isn't abusing the FRAND patents because they've got shlt all in that pool.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Can you explain where Motorola's asserted patents for H.264:

      EP0538667 "adaptive motion compensation using a plurality of motion compensators" and EP0615384 "adaptive compression of digital video data"

      are more innovative than the other patents in the H.264 pool?

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
        Devil

        They are not part of the pool

        When the merger was first announced the ANALists (including elreg by the way) all missed the interesting part of the MM portfolio - everything related to IPTV and codecs from the days when it was the leader in STB development.

        Google can use these to beat anyone in the consumer electronics arena into a submission and cross-licensing deal which is exactly what they are doing now.

        They have simply set the royalty for them to be reciprocal of what MSFT is asking for their patents from Android (around 2.25% before any discounts). This will be the explanation given back to the EU commission and to the FTC and this explanation will probably stand up to court scrutiny too.

        As a side effect it also plays merry hell with the MPEG-LA business model.

        Is it nice? Probably no. Is it evil? Do not think so. It is reciprocal - Google is asking same MSFT is asking. Is it fair? Nobody knows because nobody has seen the MSFT patents for which Android manufacturers have to pay 2.25% license fee.

  10. Tom 35

    Live by the software patent, die by the software patent

    They all love the broken patent system when it's them stomping on other people, but when it comes back to them they squeal like a pig.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Live by the software patent, die by the software patent

      Exactly - you complain to try and stop them doing it to you, or at least make it cheaper. That's just part of the game.

  11. Doug 3

    Please define Fair and Reasonable Mr Microsoft

    Because I think Barnes and Noble have an issue with your definition of that. ie you want to charge them more then you charge for your entire OS license yet the patents claimed are for minute parts of the OS.

    I for one am glad to read that Google finally has a club to hold over these other companies head. the game is and has been a game of mutual assured destruction and it sucks.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't believe it, two of the largest patent trolls, Microsoft and Apple, are screaming foul because of what Motorola has done! With Apple trying to completely destroy Android and Microsoft trying to be the standard of the world, this whole thing is a colossal joke.

  13. Mikel
    Pint

    In it to win it

    Moto didn't start this war. For one I am glad they aren't going to just lay down and die.

    Microsoft doesn't like it when they are losing at their own game.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I feel ashamed of having supported Google. At one time they seemed to be innovators but now they just copy, sue, force us to use things we don't want and close services we actually wanted (especially angry after the knol announcement!!!)

    Now I was just creating a Gmail account for my wife and it asked me for my credit card to create a Google Wallet! Where is this going to end. I'm not recommending Google anymore.

    1. BitDr

      Was the credit card mandatory?

      You did not say if the creation of the google-wallet and by extension the providing of your credit card details was mandatory or not? Was it? If so then bad on Google, if not then decline Google Wallet and carry-on.

  15. Antony Riley
    WTF?

    "He said companies including Microsoft, Motorola Mobility and others had made a pact to make such patents available on fair and reasonable terms."

    Isn't this known as price fixing and fairly illegal?

    1. Anonymous Coward
    2. Dave's Jubblies
      Stop

      No.

      No it's not.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No.

        No it's not.

        For over 200 years.

        [please continue along line ]

    3. 2cent

      A contract is a contract.

      It is illegal unless you agree to make it "not illegal".

      If your countries legal system or an international court system does not take them to task.

      All is fair in love and war.

      I'm not a lawyer and this is just an opinion.

  16. Paul 135
    Mushroom

    fuck Google, fuck MS, fuck Appl€ and fuck WebM

    That is all. H.264 FTW!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Pirate

      Re: fuck Google, fuck MS, fuck Apple and fuck WebM

      You mean fuck G¤¤gle, fuck M$, fuck Appl€ and fuck WebM.

      Oh and add the pirate logo :)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I Love It

    Now MS has to eat the $hit they have served up to many other companies, including *everyone* using Linux. They suggested that Linux would violate dozens of patents they refused to specify. MS and Apple are also trying to suck the blood out of Android vendors (or stop them from selling altogether) and it seems they succeeded in many cases.

    Let this patent war heat up even more and make these "highly intelligent executives" reconsider the whole patent system. It is clearly broken (think of Amazon's "one-click" patent) and these people need to feel the heat and then talk to the politicos. Everybody will benefit. It took two wars to end the major wars, let's see how many it will take in the patent belligerence.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I Love It

      "It took two wars to end the major wars"

      Oh how I wish you were right about that. From what I can see looking at news from around the world it's been a long time since the possibility of World War III breaking out was comfortably remote. The current hotbed is Iran/Israel. If that flares up it's going to be a real mess. Maybe not a world war, but there are enough nations ready to jump in on one side or the other to make it close enough, especially if someone does something stupid like use nukes or thermobarics in a preemptive strike.

  18. BitDr

    Caution, Spin doctors at work.

    "And Microsoft is making its patents -standard essential and otherwise — available to all Android manufacturers on fair and reasonable terms. In fact, more than 70 percent of Android devices are now licensed to use Microsoft’s patent portfolio."

    MS (IMHO) appears to be extorting money from manufacturers of Android devices utilizing patents that at least one company (Barnes & Noble) are paying a legal-team to expose as being irrelevant. Other manufacturers signed an NDA (bad move) so we only hear the voice of MS and their allies in cases like these, and of course their competition is being painted as the bad-guy.

    The trouble with "Fair and Reasonable Terms" is that it has never been defined. Fair and Reasonable for whom? If I'm a small start-up then I might be able to afford sweat-equity to write software that adheres to a truly open standard, but I might not be able to pay the additional and ongoing costs of licensing.

  19. sisk

    Why is everyone screaming at Google?

    All Google is doing is keeping the same liscensing model that Motorola has had for years. Why is it that no one complained about it until Google took it over? It's the same fee, it's just going to be going to a different company.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is everyone screaming at Google?

      Because from now on they can no longer attack Google and Android without fear of reprisal.

  20. 2cent

    What! You can't do this to us.

    Only we can do it to you!!!

    Observe no thanks from Microsoft on payments (gouged) from Android manufacturers.

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