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31-05-2012 23:15:00

UPDATE: Google Files Complaint Over Nokia, Microsoft Use Of 'Trolls'

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--Google plans to share complaint with U.S. competition regulators

--Google alleges Microsoft, Nokia entered into agreements with so-called patent "trolls"

--Google says Nokia, Microsoft colluding to raise costs of mobile devices for consumers

(Adds background, minor rewrites throughout.)

By John Letzing

Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. -(Dow Jones)- Google Inc. (GOOG) said it filed an antitrust complaint Thursday with European regulators arguing that rivals Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Nokia Corp. (NOK) are using proxy companies to brandish patents and hurt the prospects of Google's Android mobile phone software and boost Microsoft's technology.

Google also plans to share its complaint with what it called patent "trolls" with U.S. competition regulators.

The Internet-search giant alleges that Microsoft and Nokia have entered into agreements with entities such as Canada-based Mosaid Technologies Inc., which enable Mosaid to legally enforce their patent rights and share the resulting revenue.

While Google has not been sued by Mosaid or related firms, it says it is filing the complaint Thursday as a preemptive measure in response to a developing legal hazard for Android partners.

The logic: If phone makers are threatened with litigation or see too much potential legal cost as a result of their use of Android, they may seek to use Microsoft's Windows Phone software instead.

A Google spokesman said in a statement, "Nokia and Microsoft are colluding to raise the costs of mobile devices for consumers, creating patent trolls that side-step promises both companies have made. They should be held accountable, and we hope our complaint spurs others to look into these practices."

Representatives from Microsoft, Nokia and Mosaid did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Last year, Microsoft and Nokia formed a patent cross-licensing agreement, as part of a broader arrangement that has Nokia building devices based on Microsoft's Windows Phone software.

Later in the year, Mosaid said it had bought an entity called Core Wireless and its roughly 2,000 patents and patent applications originally filed by Nokia.

At the time, Mosaid said in a public statement that the portfolio was particularly strong in terms of key, "standards-essential" patents that cover necessary technology for many companies in the wireless industry.

"This is one of the strongest standards-essential wireless portfolios available on the market, and we are thrilled that we...have the opportunity to monetize it," Mosaid Chief Executive John Lindgren said in the statement.

Google alleges that by colluding with Microsoft and Mosaid, Nokia has been working counter to its previous commitments to open-source software, which makes outside use of collective engineering, and to the protection of essential technologies from legal threats.

Android is developed according to an open-source model, and is offered to device makers for free. The software lends Google significant leverage in the mobile phone market, while helping pull in related revenue from advertising and software applications.

According to data from Gartner Inc., Google's Android captured a 56.1% share of the world-wide smartphone operating system software market in the first quarter of this year, compared to a 1.9% share for Microsoft.

Concerns about Mosaid have been raised in the past by Google's Android partners.

In a letter submitted to a U.S. Justice Department official in October, an attorney for Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS), which builds its Nook electronic reader on Android, complained that Microsoft's partnership with Mosaid is evidence of "Microsoft's broader plan to shield itself from patent lawsuits while also eliminating competition from Android."

-By John Letzing, Dow Jones Newswires; john.letzing@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 31, 2012 17:15 ET (21:15 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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