Patents, patents, patents. If there's one word that could be used to sum up the world of technology at the moment it's patents. Many would agree although patents are crucial in protecting an individuals or companies designs and innovations, the way they are being wielded in the courtrooms and in the wild as of late is getting out of hand. The system is ready for a drastic overhaul to discourage what is known as 'patent trolling'. Take for example the case of Facebook buying up patents
from Microsoft today for a sum rumoured to be around the mark of $550 million. Microsoft in turn bought these from AOL previously as the winner of a fierce bidding war. In short, patents can often mean very little and are but ammunition to be traded on the market in pursuit of property protection from others, and sometimes, profit.
That brings us to the recent slice of news concerning Motorola Mobility (MMI) and Microsoft. MMI have won a key ruling
that struck out at the Xbox 360 for infringing four out of five key MMI held patents:
- A standard used for video decoding
- Two patents pertaining to WiFi technology
- A method of communication between the Xbox 360 and it's accessories
Although International Trading Commission (ITC) judge David Shaw has ruled that part of the video decoding patent is invalid, and that the second Wi-Fi patent wasn’t infringed, MMI are still left with two valid patent claims that it plans to wield against the guys at Redmond. Becki Leonard, Spokesperson for MMI said:
Microsoft continues to infringe Motorola Mobility’s patent portfolio, and we remain confident in our position. This case was filed in response to Microsoft’s litigate-first patent attack strategy, and we look forward to the full commission’s ruling in August.
The decision is set to be reviewed by the six member ICT commission which has the power to ban Microsoft from importing devices into the US if they are found to have infringed US patent laws.
Hitting back at MMI, an e-mailed statement from Microsoft decreed MMI's patent filings as 'standard-essential' to their industry:
Today’s recommendation by the administrative law judge is the first step in the process leading to the commission’s final ruling. We remain confident the commission will ultimately rule in Microsoft’s favor in this case and that Motorola will be held to its promise to make its standard-essential patents available on fair and reasonable terms.
The final ruling won't be made until both sides have presented evidence, with the conclusion targeted for an August 23rd resolution. MMI are proposing a 2.25% royalty payable by Microsoft for unlicensed use of their materials. This percentage would come from the end price on all products sold which infringe the aforementioned patents, including Windows products as well as Xbox branded hardware. Microsoft claim that such a number would lead to a $4 billion annual royalty payout, whilst MMI contest this without data to substantiate this claim. MMI went on to say that such a number is typical of opening negotiation procedures, but Microsoft failed to return with a counter-offer.