Not too long ago I wrote up an article detailing a patent dispute between Motorola Mobility and Microsoft
pertaining to the Xbox 360 and certain Windows products. Well today threw us a massive curve ball as Motorola won the right to block sales in Germany
But wait, it's not that clear cut. Yes, Motorola have been awarded the victory in a German ruling which would permit them to block sales of these products, but the verdict has been put under restraint by the US courts
until the matter has been considered by themselves. Confused yet? The restriction was enforced on the back of Microsoft counter-claim which stated Motorola was heavily abusing their Frand-commitments. In simple terms this is an agreement to make available innovations deemed critically important to common and widely implemented technologies under a "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory" agreement. A decision is expected to be reached on May 7th with there being a possibility that German sales of "Xbox 360 games console, Windows 7 system software, Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player" will be banned outright. As with many of these kinds of things, the verdict may be delayed well past May 7th.
Motorola have issued a statement on the ruling saying:
We are pleased that the Mannheim Court found that Microsoft products infringe Motorola Mobility's intellectual property. As a path forward, we remain open to resolving this matter. Fair compensation is all that we have been seeking for our intellectual property.
Microsoft have replied in kind with the following statement issued to the press which includes some snippets of previous soundbites:
This is one step in a long process, and we are confident that Motorola will eventually be held to its promise to make its standard essential patents available on fair and reasonable terms for the benefit of consumers who enjoy video on the web.
Motorola is prohibited from acting on today's decision, and our business in Germany will continue as usual while we appeal this decision and pursue the fundamental issue of Motorola's broken promise.
Microsoft is fighting many wars on many fronts against many companies; Motorola, Apple, Android, Mozilla, Linux, Sony, Nintendo... it's a wonder they can keep a straight head as the full scale assault shapes up from all sides. Many of you correctly noted that Motorola Mobility is currently in the process of confirming a takeover bid from Google - this is currently held up by the Chinese courts who have yet to approve the deal.
This is shaping up to be a very interesting scenario with plenty of heavy hitting blows being traded, and Microsoft being forced to fall back on technicalities to stall for time at the moment. I would expect Microsoft to fall back on every possible technicality possible before even considering talking settlement figures with Motorola. If you think this is but a 'patent-troll dance' between two behemoth companies, bear in mind that Microsoft have actually moved their European software distribution centre in full from Germany to the Netherlands in anticipation of minimising the fallout of these proceedings. They are not
taking this lightly.
Thanks to all of the community members who suggested this news item!