The lawsuits flying around Silicon Valley are getting ridiculous.
• Microsoft is suing Barnes & Noble because Microsoft says that Android infringes Microsoft patents, and B&N’s Nook e-reader is based on Android. Thus, B&N must be forced to license Microsoft patents.
• Oracle is suing Google because Oracle says that Android’s Dalvik Java Virtual Machine infringes some of Sun’s JVM patents.
• Apple is suing Amazon.com because Apple says that “App Store” is an Apple trademark, and thus Amazon must not use “Amazon Appstore” for its Android, well, app store.
• Microsoft is suing Apple because Microsoft says that Apple’s “App Store” trademark uses generic English words, and thus shouldn’t be trademarked. Of course, Microsoft has rigorously defended its trademarks of Windows, Word and Office.
• And, yesterday, Microsoft filed a European antitrust complaint against—guess who—Google.
The latest Microsoft complaint is fascinating, as it reveals that as worried as the company’s been about search, it’s also concerned about Windows Phone. According to this post by Brad Smith, Microsoft’s General Counsel, there are six allegations:
1. Google’s search engine has an unfair advantage over Microsoft’s Bing and other search engines when it comes to crawling YouTube content.
2. Google refuses to allow Windows Phone to access YouTube metadata, but allows Android and iPhone devices to do so.
3. Google is attempting to block access to content owned by book publishers by seeking exclusive rights to scan and distribute so-called orphaned books: those still under copyright, but for which the copyright owner can’t be found.
4. Google unfairly restricts its advertisers’ ability to use data and analytics in an interoperable way with competing search platforms, specifically Microsoft’s adCenter.
5. Google contractually requires European websites that use a Google search box from also using a competing search box. Microsoft says this not only freezes out Bing directly, but also blocks Web publishers from using Windows Live Services, which embeds a Bing search box.
6. Google discriminates against its own competitors (like Microsoft) by making it very expensive for them to buy good ad positions using Google’s ad tools.
Is there any truth to these allegations? That’s for the European Commission to decide. But what it all comes down to is: Microsoft can’t compete, so it’s going to the courts. The company has the right to sue, of course. But I hope that if Microsoft succeeds in overturning Apple’s “App Store” trademark, the decision is broad enough to overturn Windows, Word and Office as well. Fair is fair.
Alan Zeichick is editorial director of SD Times. Read his blog at ztrek.blogspot.com.