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Summary:

Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has asked a judge at the International Trade Commission to sanction Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), saying that the company reve…

A Motorola Android Robot at CTIA 2010 in SF
photo: Tricia Duryee

Google (NSDQ: GOOG) has asked a judge at the International Trade Commission to sanction Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), saying that the company revealed “highly confidential source code” to an expert witness in violation of the court’s rules. The expert accessed the source code as part of Microsoft’s ITC case against Motorola (NYSE: MMI), which alleges that some Android-powered Motorola phones violate Microsoft patents.

Microsoft’s ITC case against Motorola is one of several “proxy battles” against Android-powered phones. Microsoft wants to use patents to collect royalties on every Android-powered handset, and has reached settlements in some cases, including with HTC. But Motorola is fighting back hard, and launched its own ITC counter-suit not long after Microsoft kicked off the fight. Both ITC cases are still pending.

The spat over this source code is a reminder that Google is still heavily involved in these patent proxy-battles over Android, even when it’s not a party to the case. And the search giant is ready, willing, and able to assist handset makers who are tangling with Microsoft in court and at the ITC.

In April, Microsoft sent Google a subpoena asking for a variety of information, including confidential source code. Presumably, that source code involves Android because the patents in this case relate to Android. (Although, the word ‘Android’ is nowhere to be seen in this motion, and the motion doesn’t say anything at all about what kind of source code we’re talking about.)

In its motion [PDF] for sanctions, Google says it should have had a chance to review the credentials of the expert in question, Dr. Robert Stevenson, and it should have had a chance to object. The motion notes that Stevenson has done consulting work for Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), “both direct competitors of Google.” Now Google wants the ITC judge overseeing the Microsoft v. Motorola case to stop Stevenson from testifying.

Microsoft responded that all of Stevenson’s work was “litigation-related” and his earlier contact with Microsoft was merely “two or three conversations with Microsoft’s outside counsel regarding a case related to printer technology.”

Google has asked for this motion to be considered quickly, with any response from Microsoft due by August 15. Spokespersons from both Google and Microsoft declined to comment on the motion.

»  Google Motion For Sanctions, ITC Investigation 337-TA-744 [PDF]

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  1. Looks like Google is asking a Judge to slap Microsoft´s hand with a ruler!  A couple of things strike me as funny in this article.

    1) Google has confidential source code?  Weren’t they all for open source?  Oh, I see, open source for Google is just everyone else’s intellectual property!!!

    2) If Google sues Microsoft they will look bad if only for Drummond’s blog post.  Bogus patents everywhere but my source code is confidential?!!

    Google has very little credibility left.

    1. 1) Source code in development need not be open source, even if it’s predecessor was. Chances are, this had to do with Android 4.0, which, since it is NOT deployed yet, should not even be open source, and is in fact confidential, as stated by Google. I challenge you to find an open source project in major development that does not have closed source pieces. Almost any open source project working on a major release will not open source that code until it is considered stable.

      2) Google is fighting a defensive, not offensive war here, since every phone and tablet maker that doesn’t use Android is against their product. They want nothing except for their product to continue being free, as it has always been. There is no reason for them to sue Microsoft, since they don’t want royalties from them.

      Google has much more credibility that any of it’s competitors in this market. Google relies on innovation and new ideas to dominate the market (which I may remind you, it is doing already, with upwards of 45% market share in smart phones), whereas it’s competitors rely on unfair business practices of a patent system that is hopelessly broken.

      1. “Almost any open source project working on a major release will not open source that code until it is considered stable.”

        Nope. I don’t have numbers, but I would actually not be surprised if the contrary was true. “Open source” is even sometimes used (but not all the times) to talk about the openness of the development process and not just the license of the end result.

        1. Most open source projects working on a new release will do so under a limited number of confidential users, unless the project is not big enough to continue without the public contributors. This is so that the actual release is as intended, and is not watered down with what one person might think needs to be included. This gives a stable base to work off of, which is incredibly important as otherwise there would be inconsistencies between phones, in this case. There’s no point in having multiple Android phones if none of them can interact with another Android device. Yes, a manufacturer may add to the code if they desire, but they cannot take away the base functionality that is required by any Android device.

      2. Why a court will ask Google to provide Android 4.0 code when the case against Motorola is for existing products i.e Android 2.3 or older? Your argument is an assumption and not a fact.

        1. I never once said it was a fact. In fact, if you have cared to read, my post said “chances are.” If this is the case, it’s a classic example of someone trying to catch Google in the act, instead of for what they’ve already done.

      3. Yep, like the whole Android concept would not have existed without iPhone – that’s innovation is it? 

        And the code they used to do it with was Java. No license required??Google has no credibility left.

        1. Yeah, and like the iPhone would have existed without the Blackberry or any PDA right? Or how Apple computers would exist without the IBM 5100? Or how either of those would exist without the ENIAC? I really don’t think you understand the meaning of “innovation:” to take something and make it better, which, in my opinion, they have done. Get off your high horse.

    2. “Google has confidential source code?  Weren’t they all for open source?”
      Are you 12, or do you just know as little about intellectual property as you do about Google? Google has TONS of confidential source code. Also, Google supports open systems within the confines of their business model (which is actually very supportive of open source, compared to most of other tech giants). If everything they had were open, they’d be a charity rather than a business.

      The fact that you’ve gathered 100% of your knowledge from marketing is evident. Your post amounts to: “Apple says their stuff ‘just works’ but I had to replace the memory in my new MacBook guess they don’t just work lol!!!1!”

      Edit: I see from your post history that you’re just a troll. Sorry for wasting time correcting your retardedness.

  2. Don’t be fooled, Google’s support of open source is about destroying the paid for software business model (and jobs) in favor of their own advertising business model. Don’t be fooled that this is just anti-Microsoft either, this is anti-all niche software (energy reporting, medical, transportation, there are tons of specialty software required in our world that the home user has no clue about). They’re perfectly happy for everything other than search to be open source and/or freely available.

  3. Google are complete amateurs… just a bunch of spoiled, whining brats.

    1. Care to back that up, at all? Google didn’t sue start this but they are well within their rights to defend themselves.

      I think you are the spoiled, whining brat if you think Google should just roll over.

  4. I find one glaring fact that underlines the downfall of innovation in this country and that is when Google was putting the effort out to create this platform, no one was even slightly interested until it became a player and held market share.

    Once that occurred, let the leeches come of the wood work to try to suck down unearned money for work they didnt do.

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