Motorola Mobility infringes Microsoft patents, German court rules

Summary:Microsoft has won a patent case against Google-owned Motorola Mobility after the phone maker was found by a German court to have infringed a soft-keyboard patent.

A Munich court has ruled that Motorola Mobility, a division of Google, infringes a patent owned by Microsoft relating to software keyboards.

The Redmond, WA.-based software giant can now enforce an injunction on Motorola devices that infringe on the patent, EU Patent No. EP1040406, described as a "soft input panel system and method."

The Google-owned smartphone hardware maker will now have to modify the Android operating system to remove the infringing technology from the device, or pay Microsoft a license fee to use the technology in Germany. If Microsoft enforces the injunction, it could see infringing devices pulled from store shelves.

Microsoft deputy general counsel David Howard said in a statement emailed to ZDNet:

We're pleased this decision builds on previous rulings in Germany that have already found Motorola is broadly infringing Microsoft's intellectual property. We will continue to enforce injunctions against Motorola products in Germany and hope Motorola will join other Android device makers by taking a license to Microsoft's patented inventions.

The software giant has now hit the patent jackpot four times in a row with the software keyboard ruling.

Microsoft most recently brought a case to the U.S. International Trade Commission, which ruled Motorola infringed a Microsoft-owned ActiveSync patent. The injunction kicked in July 18, which prevents Motorola from importing infringing products into the country. 

A Munich court recently ruled Motorola infringed a Microsoft patent relating to SMS messaging on May 24, in which Microsoft enforced an injunction forcing Motorola to remove infringing products from sale in Germany. 

Microsoft also won a ruling in July that saw more Motorola devices pulled from the stores, after the smartphone hardware infringed a FAT patent  that covers long-name and short-name file indexing.

Microsoft has to pay a bond of €37.5 million ($48.6) for each patent in Germany -- a total of €75 million together ($97.1m) -- or pay an extra €10 million ($12.9m) on top of that to enforce a device recall, FOSS Patents author Florian Mueller notes.

Google was told by the Munich court today that it can appeal the ruling, which it will likely do.

Topics: Microsoft, Android, EU, Google, Legal, Patents

About

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

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