"Your Honor, I present Exhibit A -- an e-mail I posted on Twitter."
This, apparently, is where we now stand in the he said-she said battle that has become Google v. the World in regards to patents. Where to begin ...
It all started tonight with a tweet from Brad Smith, general counsel (aka lawyer) for Microsoft, who says that Google had been asked to join Microsoft in ultimate $4.5 billion bid for a suite of patents. Microsoft (and others) had a stake in that bid. Google? Tapped out at $3.14 billion. Yep. Π
According to Smith, Google could have thrown in had it wanted to. But Google apparently declined.
Now we have Frank X. Shaw -- aka @fxshaw on Twitter and lead for corporate communications for Microsoft -- (sidebar: anyone who has a middle name that starts with the letter X is legally required to use it whenever possible) who took to the social networking site Wednesday night to respond to Google chief legal officer David Drummond's blog post that said that "Android’s success has yielded something else: a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents."
Shaw posted an e-mail on Twitter on Wednesday night, prefacing it with "Free advice for David Drummond -- next time check with Kent Walker before you blog. :)" The e-mail Shaw posted purportedly is between Kent Walker, a lawyer for Google, and Smith. Under the subject line "Following up," Walker explains that "after talking with people here, it sounds as though for various reasons a joint bid wouldn't be advisable for us on this one."
That's a single, solitary e-mail, with no real context or follow-up, at least publicly, from anyone actually involved. But that's not really our point here. Or maybe it is.
Like most things legal, patent law is slow, for a reason. It's also important. Far too important for discovery to take place over Twitter from Microsoft. Or in a blog post from Google. You'll see a bunch of "Microsoft strikes back" posts after this latest round. It makes for good television, and is great blog fodder (which we're admittedly taking place in now). It doesn't make for the good practice of law.
Google might well have screwed the pooch with this one and is posturing itself as best it can. Or maybe Microsoft's lawyers are stretching things a bit. That's the game, for better or worse. But that the players have found themselves in the 140-character world of Twitter is just ridiculous, if the stakes are as high as they'd have us believe.