Google has just filed an official complaint with the European Commission that accuses Nokia and Microsoft of colluding to drive up handset prices through deals they've struck with Canadian IP licensing firm MOSAID — a company that Google doesn't hesitate to call a "patent troll." Without sharing the complaint itself, Google cites a deal that Nokia assembled with MOSAID in September of last year to transfer some 1,200 patents that it claims are essential to a variety of wireless standards, and it specifically references this key bit of verbiage from MOSAID's press release: "MOSAID believes that revenues from licensing, enforcing and monetizing this wireless portfolio will surpass the Company's total revenues since its formation in 1975."
The exact nature of Google's complaint is of interest because it's unclear whether MOSAID is currently attempting to license the patents, whether it's approaching licensing under FRAND terms, and whether it's asking for any injunctions based on the standards-essential patents in the portfolio (we are told that it hasn't so far). It's worth noting that monetization of standards-essential patents isn't necessarily a problem, and in fact that's often a key benefit, as long as the licensing terms are fair, reasonable and provided equally to all players in the market (e.g., non-discriminatory). It's safe to assume Google doesn't believe MOSAID will use these newly-acquired patents on standards-essential technology in such a way.
Here's Google's brief statement on the matter:
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. They should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices.
Google has indicated that it also shared its formal European complaint with US regulators. And considering the EU's recent announcements that it's investigating whether Motorola and Samsung have breached their FRAND commitments relating to patents essential to wireless standards, things are certainly heating up.
Update: Microsoft is pulling no punches with its response, accusing Google of its own "abuse of standards-essential patents" and turning the conversation to anti-competitive concerns in mobile search and advertising, where it says Google controls over 95 percent of the traffic.
Google is complaining about patents when it won't respond to growing concerns by regulators, elected officials and judges about its abuse of standard-essential patents, and it is complaining about antitrust in the smartphone industry when it controls more than 95% of mobile search and advertising. This seems like a desperate tactic on their part.
Matt Macari contributed to this report.