Updates to this story
Apparently Microsoft has written a stiff missive to the US Department of Justice in a bid to stop the search engine from buying the patents. The DoJ had just announced that, while it was investigating the sale, it was unlikely to object to Google winning the rights.
Microsoft is worried that Google can buy the 6,000 patents without recognising Microsoft's existing licensing agreements on the patents.
Microsoft said it had not put in a bid for the patents because it had licensing agreements already in place. However, it is starting to look like the company that wins the bidding can terminate existing agreements.
Microsoft has called that a foul as the termination of existing licensing agreements "would result in considerable disruption in the development and enhancement of various existing technologies and give the prospective purchaser an unfair competitive advantage".
Normally it has been Microsoft which has used its 17,000 or so patents to go after competition so many would not have much sympathy with Microsoft. But the point is here that Microsoft has been fairly licensing and using these patents for years. It could be a problem for Vole's new products if it is not allowed to use them.
According to the Washington Post, one of the reasons that the DoJ did not think that the world would have a problem with Google buying the patents is because the search engine has not , aggressively trolled the 1000 or so patents they do have. The DoJ is unlikely to let Apple take the patents because the outfit is extremely litigious in protecting them.
However with 6,000 patents, including those that are being used by Microsoft it has a brilliant weapon against Volish expansionism.