Motorola Android devices banned in Germany in Microsoft FAT spat

Summary:German's must be getting pretty annoyed with the constant barrage of technology injunctions. This time around -- and it's hard to keep up -- it's Motorola's Android devices that are subject to a sales ban.

Just when you think the patent wars couldn't get any more confusing, Microsoft vs. Motorola just took a turn for the worst, and arguably it's the German people who ultimately suffer in the case.

In an almighty spat over Microsoft FAT patents, a German court has banned all Motorola devices running Google's Android mobile operating system. 

The Mannheim Regional Court ruled that Motorola had infringed the Redmond software giant's FAT patents on file storage systems and granted Microsoft's request for a sales ban on all affected devices. 

FOSS Patents author Florian Mueller nutshells it in a tweet: 

The pesky patent in question, EP 0618540, covers long-name and short-name file indexing. FAT is often used in Windows PCs, but also used in mobile devices for backwards compatibility. 

Motorola's Razr, Razr Maxx, and Atrix devices will be affected by the injunction, among others. 

In a statement, Microsoft deputy general counsel David Howard said:

Today's decision, which follows similar rulings in the U.S. and Germany, is further proof that Motorola Mobility is broadly infringing Microsoft's intellectual property. We will continue to enforce injunctions against Motorola Mobility products in those countries and hope they will join other Android device makers by taking a license to Microsoft's patented inventions.

As is often the case, Microsoft will have to pay a bond of €10 million ($12.3m) to secure the injunction. Once it's paid, the mighty gavel of the German justice system will see all Motorola-branded Android devices in the country barred from sale. 

Microsoft will also be entitled to damages, though a figure has yet to be decided upon. 

However, the two companies came to blows over the same U.S. held patent, but the U.S. International Trade Commission threw out the case because of evidence submitted by Linux founder Linus Torvalds. 

Motorola will likely appeal the decision and seek a stay on the injunction, delaying the sales ban. However, if Microsoft posts the bond before the appeal is heard, it could still cause sales disruptions to Motorola's retail supply chain.

Mueller notes in a blog post that this is the third patent ruling in Microsoft's favour against Google-owned Motorola Mobility. On the global spectrum, ten patents belonging to Apple and Microsoft have been infringed based on court rulings by Android software. 

By buying Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, Google really brought the patent wars to home turf. 

Image credit: CNET.

Topics: Android, Google, Microsoft, Patents

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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