Microsoft launches new Twitter broadside against Google over "hostile" patent claims

The war of words over whether Microsoft is part of a organized, "hostile," "anti-competitive" patent campaign against Google just got nastier. Microsoft has released an email it says was sent by Google general counsel Kent Walker to his counterpart at Microsoft, Brad Smith, showing that Google politely declined to partner with Microsoft to purchase patents -- patents that Google now claims are being used against it.

The nastiness started yesterday, when David Drummond, Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, wrote in a blog post that Microsoft was part of a "hostile, organized campaign against Android...waged through bogus patents."

Among the evidence Drummond cited was an attempt by a consortium, including Microsoft, to buy a big portfolio of Novell patents for $450 million. The U.S. Justice Department stopped the sale, saying it would be anti-competitive. Instead of a sale, it became a licensing deal.

It turns out, though, that Google was asked to participate, along with Microsoft and others, in buying the patents. So last night Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith claimed in a tweet:

"Google says we bought Novell patents to keep them from Google. Really? We asked them to bid jointly with us. They said no."

Twisting the knife was Microsoft public relations executive Frank Shaw, who tweeted:

"Free advice for David Drummond - next time check with Kent Walker before you blog. :)"

Included in the tweet was an email that Shaw said was sent from Google General Counsel Kent Walker to Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith. In it, Walker wrote:

"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."

Ouch! Google looks to come out the loser in this exchange, even though the company has a valid point about the misuse of the patent system. Stay tuned for more fireworks.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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