Last week, the Department of Justice made clear that it was looking closely into the Nortel patent auction to ensure the results would not create antitrust issues - especially in the white-hot smartphone market. Now it seems Microsoft is concerned that Google may gain control of certain Nortel patents and then change the terms under which Microsoft licenses them.
CNET News reports Microsoft raised its concerns with the Delaware bankruptcy court overseeing the Nortel case. CEO Steve Ballmer and company want the new patent owner - whether it's Google, Apple or some as-yet-unknown player - to remain subject to "Nortel's commitments to Standard Setting Organizations and to Microsoft," the company said in a pleading filed June 9. What are those terms? Microsoft currently holds a perpetual, worldwide and royalty-free license thereto, the story says.
Though Microsoft's protest to the patent sale may be the most prominent, it is certainly not the only one. According to Reuters, Nokia and others also objected. Nokia's move comes at the same time the Finnish company reached a patent settlement with Apple under which the iPhone maker agreed to a one-time payment and royalties for the right to use certain smartphone technologies.