Google: Microsoft did offer Novell patent deal, but 'We didn't fall for it'


Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) top attorney continues to wage his war of words against Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), acknowledging that Google declined a Microsoft proposal to jointly bid on patents formerly owned by Novell and calling Microsoft's strategy "ingenious" but adding "We didn't fall for it."

"If you think about it, it's obvious why we turned down Microsoft's offer," Google senior vice president and chief legal officer David Drummond wrote Thursday in an update to a diatribe posted earlier this week to The Official Google Blog. "Microsoft's objective has been to keep from Google and Android device-makers any patents that might be used to defend against their attacks. A joint acquisition of the Novell patents that gave all parties a license would have eliminated any protection these patents could offer to Android against attacks from Microsoft and its bidding partners. Making sure that we would be unable to assert these patents to defend Android--and having us pay for the privilege--must have seemed like an ingenious strategy to them."

Drummond's original blog entry called out Microsoft as well as rivals Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Oracle, alleging the companies are attempting to "strangle" Google's fast-growing Android platform by leveraging "bogus patents" that could drive up costs for devices running the mobile operating system. Drummond contends that Google's opponents have banded together to acquire patents held by firms like Novell and Nortel "to make sure Google didn't get them... Our competitors want to impose a 'tax' for these dubious patents that makes Android devices more expensive for consumers. They want to make it harder for manufacturers to sell Android devices. Instead of competing by building new features or devices, they are fighting through litigation."

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith was quick to respond to Drummond's comments. "Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google," Smith tweeted. "Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no."

Drummond adds that the Department of Justice's decision to force Microsoft to sell the patents it bought and demand that the winning group (Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and EMC) grant a license to the open-source community reaffirms his argument. "Our competitors are waging a patent war on Android and working together to keep us from getting patents that would help balance the scales," Drummond writes.

For more:
- read this updated Official Google Blog entry

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