After Google rant on Android patents, Microsoft tweets: 'Really?'

Microsoft says Google was asked to jointly bid on hundreds of Nortel patents

In an escalation of Android patent battles, Microsoft said it urged Google's legal team to join Microsoft in buying up hundreds of Nortel patents, but Google refused.

"Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no," Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft, tweeted https://twitter.com/#!/BradSmi/status/98902130412355585 Wednesday night.

Smith's tweet followed by several hours a blog from Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond, who described Microsoft as one of a group of companies that are mounting a "hostile,organized campaign against Android."

Drummond charged that Microsoft, Apple and others had banded together to acquire 600 patents from Nortel for $4.5 billion in an anti-competitive move against Android.

Smith's tweet was followed by a second tweet, this one from Frank Shaw, director of Microsoft communications, who posted an email communication that showed Google's withdrawal from the joint bidding.

The email in that second tweet was written Oct. 28, 2010 by Kent Walker, general counsel at Google, to Brad Smith. It reads:

Brad-- Sorry for the delay in getting back to you -- I came down with a 24-hour bug on the way back from San Antonio. After talking with people here, it sounds as though for various reasons a joint bid wouldn't be advisable for us on this one. But I appreciate your flagging it, and we're open to discussing other similar opportunities in the future.

I hope the rest of your travels go well, and I look forward to seeing you again soon. - Kent

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Microsoft's assertions.

In his blog, Drummond had said that Google would be trying to strengthen its own patent portfolio, and has apparently recently taken steps to do so. In January, it purchased 1,030 patents originally held by IBM and others in what is apparently an attempt to bolster itself against Android patent attacks. The assignments of those patents to Google were recorded at the U.S. patent and Trademark Office in March.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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