Patent News | "Microsoft Wins Patent Battle Against Motorola in Germany"

By : Paul Thurrott
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Category : Patent News

A regional court in Munich, Germany ruled that Motorola Mobility’s Android handsets infringe on Microsoft patents and ordered that sales of the devices be halted in that country. This action will commence after Microsoft has posted a $31 million bond.

“We're pleased the court agreed that Motorola has infringed Microsoft's intellectual property, and we hope Motorola will be willing to join other Android device makers by taking a license to our patents,” a Microsoft statement noted.

Motorola Mobility is the only major Android vendor that has not signed a patent licensing agreement with the software giant, and the only one involved in thus far unsuccessful legal battles aimed at preventing that licensing. Microsoft claims that Android infringes on many of its mobile-related patents, and over 70 percent of all Android devices sold in the US are now covered by Microsoft patent licensing agreements.

The Munich I Regional Court ruled that the firm’s devices do infringe on a Microsoft patent related to “communicating multi-part messages between cellular devices using a standardized interface.” To overcome the legal blocking of infringing device sales, Motorola would need to rewrite Android’s message layer, according to FOSS Patents. And since Microsoft’s patented technology is not standard-essential, Motorola Mobility isn’t entitled to friendlier FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) licensing.

This is the second injunction Microsoft has won against Motorola’s infringing devices in recent days. 10 days earlier, the US United States International Trade Commission ordered an import ban against Motorola Android handsets that infringe on a different Microsoft patent related to “generating meeting requests and group scheduling from a mobile device.” That injunction will be implemented after a 60 day review, the ITC said, and Motorola will most likely need to simply remove the offending feature in order to comply.

Motorola Mobility, now owned by Android maker and online advertising giant Google, said that it was exploring all options with regards to its loss in Germany, including an appeal. The most obvious option, of course, would be to simply license the Microsoft patents that Android is clearly infringing. But with Google as its new corporate overseer, that type of common sense is perhaps less likely, and would send a somewhat clear message to the rest of the industry about the shaky state of the intellectual property that the company borrowed while racing to make and improve Android.

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