Smartphone, Mobile Tech Lawsuits Widespread

Dennis Faas's picture

A senior Microsoft lawyer says Google is simply "standing on the shoulder" of other companies. Horacio Gutierrez made the claims while defending Microsoft's involvement in the so-called "patent wars".

Gutierrez is the deputy general counsel at Microsoft and has specific responsibility for intellectual property (IP) issues. He made the accusations in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle.

Smartphone, Mobile Tech Lawsuits Widespread

The discussion centered on the widespread series of lawsuits and countersuits in the smartphone and mobile tech industry.

The situation has escalated in recent years, with firms not just suing for financial compensation, but also attempting to get injunctions that block devices from being imported into particular countries.

That's much more of an issue now that tech devices are commonly made in countries in the Far East even when they are initially aimed at consumers in North America and Europe.

Gutierrez: Patent Disputes "Inevitable"

According to Gutierrez, however, this is all an inevitable part of new technology developing. He says that when consumers buy a new device, "what you don't see is an invisible web of licensing and cross-licensing arrangements that actually make it possible."

When asked to name some specific examples to back up his argument that Google's Android system is unfairly benefiting from other companies' work, Gutierrez in particular pointed to "the ability to synchronize the content that you have in your phone with the information in the server of your company or in your computer at home." (Source:

He further argued that even though some patented concepts may seem very basic and far from unique, the patents really cover a series of "under-the-bonnet" features that affect the user experience, not just the basic idea itself.

First to File Wins the Race

Gutierrez also defended controversial changes proposed to the US patent system.

Under the new rules, the first company to file a patent could get it, even if another company had actually come up with the technology first. Gutierrez rejected claims that this would unfairly favor companies with large legal budgets that could afford to file claims quickly. (Source:

He also noted that companies who could show they were using the technology commercially more than a year before the patent was first filed would automatically be exempt from infringement claims.

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