With several Windows Mobile devices named in Apple’s patent suit against HTC, you’d be forgiven for expecting Microsoft to have a few words of quiet support for their hardware partners. However it seems Microsoft are quite looking forward to a general battle; speaking at an IP convention last week, Brad Smith, the company’s general counsel and senior vice president told amassed lawyers that “the fact that there’s litigation in this area is not necessarily a bad thing.”
It seems Microsoft are viewing the ongoing litigation as an opportunity to finally settle the pesky question of who owns what multitouch IP, and what other companies are allowed to do with the multi-finger technologies. To Smith’s mind, “the question of the day is, how will patent licensing work for the software and other information-technology layers that actually make up an increasingly large percentage of the value of a smartphone”; he went on to suggest that 5-10 percent of a smartphone’s cost could be royalty fees for these technologies within the next 3-5 years.
Smith saved some scorn for Google’s copyright settlements over book publishing, describing them as “not the way litigation is supposed to work.” In fact after the event, when asked whether Microsoft would get more involved with HTC’s case, he seemed to obliquely critique the search giant’s quickness to speak up in the handset manufacturer’s favor. “I think it’s premature to endorse or offer any other reaction to it” he told reporters.