August 3, 2011

TechCrunch

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August 3, 2011

TechCrunch

Earlier today, Google came out swinging. Seemingly sick of being continuously slapped in the face by the patent issue, Google’s SVP and Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond, wrote a blog post calling out several of Google’s rivals for attempting to use “bogus patents” to destroy Android. Chief among the rivals called out was Microsoft. Drummond noted that the software giant had been getting in bed with other rivals to hurt Google.

Among the accusations was that Microsoft teamed up with Apple to buy Novell’s old patents, implying that they did so in order to keep them away from Google.

Microsoft didn’t take too kindly to that remark.

Brad Smith, Microsoft General Counsel tweeted out in response:
 @BradSmi
"Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no."
August 3, 2011
Damn. Shit just got real.

Just in case that wasn’t enough, Frank Shaw, Microsoft Head of Communications, followed up with the real heat-seeker.
 @fxshaw
"Free advice for David Drummond: next time check with Kent Walker before you blog. :)"
August 3, 2011
In that tweet, Shaw was referring to another Google SVP and General Counsel. Attached to that tweet was the picture of an email Walker apparently sent to Smith on October 28, 2010. It reads as follows:

“Brad —

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you — I came down with a 24-hour bug on the way back from San Antonio. After talking with people here, it sounds as though for various reasons a joint bid wouldn’t be advisable for us on this one. But I appreciate your flagging it, and we’re open to discussing other similar opportunities in the future.

I hope the rest of your travels go well, and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

— Kent”

While it’s only one instance, this really does undercut Google’s entire argument. Google was attempting to set up a pattern of Microsoft teaming up with other Google rivals to damage them. But the first instance listed was actually the result of Google turning Microsoft down, as the email shows. That does not look good for Google.

Does that mean Google’s totally wrong and Microsoft is totally right? Of course not. But it sure makes Google look pretty stupid. And it reinforces something that many observers think about Google’s position here: that they simply weren’t taking the patent situation too seriously until recently, and now they’re all up in arms about it.

God I love it when Google and Microsoft take these fights to the streets.
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