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US Court Forbids MMI to Use German Injunction Against Microsoft

The German infringement decision is expected next Tuesday, April 17

A US judge Wednesday told Motorola Mobility it can forget about enforcing the German injunction it expects to get next week that would prevent Microsoft from selling Windows and Xbox in Germany.

In a bench ruling the US District Court for the Western District of Washington gave Microsoft a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction stopping it.

The German infringement decision, based on a couple of patents essential to the H.264 video codec standard, is expected next Tuesday, April 17. Motorola has asserted those patents against Windows 7, Internet Explorer, the Windows Media Player and Xbox.

Microsoft will have to give MMI a $100 million bond in case in turns out Motorola should have been allowed to enforce its prospective German injunction. Microsoft reportedly offered to post a $300 million bond but MMI rejected it.

Microsoft issued a statement saying, "Motorola promised to make its patents available to Microsoft and other companies on fair and reasonable terms. Today's ruling means Motorola can't prevent Microsoft from selling products until the court decides whether Motorola has lived up to its promise."

Motorola said it was just looking for "fair value." It wants 2.25% of the sales price of Windows PCs and Xbox consoles, which works out to roughly $4 billion a year according to Microsoft. Needless to say Microsoft regards that as unreasonable.

The US case started in 2010 when Microsoft charged Motorola with breaching its FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) obligations.

The US court said it wasn't restricting the German court's actions, merely Motorola's. It should have a decision itself sometime this fall, possibly sooner.

It's proven easy to get an injunction in Germany against implementers of industry standards, which has recently made it a popular venue. FOSS Patents says that fact "poses considerable risk to technology companies." Because of it Microsoft recently moved its European distribution center out of Germany to Holland.

It also pointed out that Microsoft intends to appeal any German injunction and the German appeals court suspend enforcement.

The European Commission last week opened two formal antitrust investigations into MMI's pricing of standards-essential patents.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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