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Microsoft says Google refused to join the Novell patent consortium


In response to a public complaint by Google accusing Apple and Microsoft of a patent-wielding conspiracy to hold back its Android platform, Microsoft's general counsel has pointed out that Google rebuffed an invitation to join the consortium, apparently with the hope of obtaining all of the Novell patents for itself.

Google's attempt to publicly shame Apple, Microsoft, Oracle and other companies who either collect royalties from its Android licensees or have ongoing legal cases involving intellectual property disputes associated with Android made headlines Wednesday.

However, the CPTN consortium of companies (including Apple and Microsoft) that bid for the Novell patents are themselves competitors in the mobile space, but have stated that they jointly bid on the patents to prevent the portfolio of intellectual property from falling into the hands of a patent troll that could work to derail the entire industry with years of lawsuits.

Additionally, according to Brad Smith, the general counsel of Microsoft, Google refused to join the group bidding on the Novell patents, instead bidding separately for the collection of patents in hopes that it could win them all for itself, just as had earlier done on a portfolio of around 1,000 patents from IBM.

In a tweet, Smith stated, "Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no."

Google's chief legal officer David Drummond took the similar Rockstar consortium to task for "escalating the cost of patents way beyond what they’re really worth," complaining that "Microsoft and Apple’s winning $4.5 billion for Nortel’s patent portfolio was nearly five times larger than the pre-auction estimate of $1 billion," without also noting that Google itself had been involved in raising the ultimate price of the patents far higher than any patent troll could ever pay, after refusing to join the consortium in the first place.

In describing Google's public denigration of the consortiums led by Apple and Microsoft and the company's depiction of the winning bids as being a concerted effort to attack Android, blogger John Gruber wrote "Google’s hypocrisy here is absurd," and added, "Google supporters claim that Google only wants to use patents defensively. But what exactly does Google need to defend against, if not actual patents Android actually violates?"