Motorola secures injunction against Windows 7, Xbox in Germany

Motorola secures injunction against Windows 7, Xbox in Germany

Summary: Another day, another patent fight. Motorola won an injunction against Microsoft's Windows 7 and Xbox consoles, but it won't be enforced immediately.


Motorola has won an injunction against Windows 7 --- including Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player --- and the Xbox games console in a German court.

A court ruled that Microsoft, which remains locked in a patent battle with Motorola, should cease distribution, and recall and destroy its products from retail and online stores.

But the court's decision will not be enforced immediately. If you thought this was a clear-cut case of Microsoft using Motorola's patents without permission, think again.

The patents in question are EP 0538667 and EP 0615384, notes FOSS Patents author Florian Mueller, which date back to 1992 and 1994 respectively. The patents relate to the H.264 video compression standard.

One of the most popular video codecs around, H.264 is used by 80 percent of all digital videos. These patents are industry-essential and must be licensed on a 'fair and reasonable' (FRAND) basis because they can be crucial to making other products.

Microsoft wanted to use the patents, but Motorola demanded $4 billion in annual royalties. Motorola knew Microsoft wouldn't pay, and Microsoft certainly didn't.

Microsoft presented a case to the European Commission calling Motorola's practices "anti-competitive", after it was said to be charging too much for industry-essential patents. Apple also complained on a similar note.

The Commission is now investigating Motorola's behaviour to determine whether it falls foul of its antitrust laws in how it handles the licensing of patents. It stepped in to attempt to resolve the patent disputes, but found Motorola has made it difficult for other companies to use its patents on 'fair and reasonable' terms.

It comes only a few weeks since Microsoft announced it was to move its European distribution center to the Netherlands in a bid to avoid such legal tussles in the country, which has become a hotbed of court activity, notably with patents used as weapons.

While Microsoft may be in the right, because Motorola may have deliberately charged too much for the patents, it still fell foul of the German courts for using the patents without permission.

But the enforcement will not begin immediately, thanks to a temporary restraining order sought by Microsoft in a U.S. court.

On April 11, U.S. District Judge ruled in a similar case preventing Motorola from barring Microsoft from selling Windows and Xbox's in Germany. The U.S. courts will have to made a decision first on whether Motorola is breaching its promise to license patents fairly and at reasonable rates before any injunction granted to Motorola can go into effect in Germany.

A Motorola spokesperson said it was open to resolving the ongoing matter. "Fair compensation is all that we have been seeking for our intellectual property."

Microsoft was unavailable at the time of publication.

Image source: CNET.


Topics: Software, Banking, Hardware, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Windows

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  • Motorola is asking for trouble.

    "Microsoft wanted to use the patents, but Motorola demanded $4 billion in annual royalties. Motorola knew Microsoft wouldn???t pay, and Microsoft certainly didn???t. "

    - Well the outcome of the European Commission anti-trust ruling is pretty much obvious, Motorola is simply asking for trouble. Instead of getting $4 billion in royalties, it will be fined $4 billion. Motorola and its new 'owner' google are nothing but losers.
    • EU

      hates people doing anti trust stuff, just look at MS

      Google can get charged 10% of their annual turnover by the EU if they own Motorola when this hits the fan, so thats pretty close to the $4b you estimated!
  • Counteroffer

    Motorola claims MS never came back with a counter offer. That makes their complaints about FRAND null and void.
  • small mistake

    [quote] "A court ruled that Microsoft, which remains locked in a patent battle with Microsoft..." [/quote]

    Those patent wars are going too far, now microsoft is locked in battle with itself?!
    • yeah

      They just don't know who to sue anymore...
    • Good spot!

      Editing now. Thanks!
  • Not surprised. Germany rules against everything

    luckily, the rest of the world is a bit smarter in these matters. Not by much, though.

    Given Motorola's recent Q1 loss, I can see why they're trying to overcharge other companies.
    William Farrel
    • wrong! Germany stands for quality when it comes to justice!

      M$ must pay the piper for stealing IP!
      4 billion/year! down to last cent!
      The Linux Geek
    • Breaking the law is breaking the law...

      If MS didn't pay the $4bn, they can't use the patent. There is no legal defense "it is too expensive, so I used it anyway."

      Motorola has acted badly here, but until the court decides on the FRAND issue, Microsoft were also in the wrong for ignoring the royalty payments and "just using" the patents...
      • But they're Microsoft

        They are the last of the "Good guy companies" left. Without Microsoft, who would fight the good fight against all those evil companies out there (everyone else). [/sarcasm]
        Jumpin Jack Flash
  • This is a big lesson to all standards bodies to never let any moto/google

    ip get accepted into any future standard. They promised frand then renigged after it got incorporated. No standard should ever trust them again. Thank goodness both of these patents are close to expiring. That googolora was approved in the US while this is still pending is a total sham. I guess the schmidt/google mega donations to obama paid for that approval.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Whose standards then ?

      You mean we should use Microsoft "standards" ?
      • That depends

        if they've done the same thing as Moto, then no.
        Michael Alan Goff