Microsoft Wins Third Motorola Patent Victory In Germany
Microsoft could enforce German ban if Motorola doesn’t agree to a patent licensing deal
Microsoft has secured another patent victory against Motorola in Germany after a court ruled that several of the Google-owned company’s mobile devices infringed on the Windows developer’s intellectual property.
The Munich I regional court said that Motorola Mobility had violated a patent that allows applications to handle different kinds of user input in tablets and smartphones.
The victory is Microsoft’s third over Motorola, and the Redmond-based company can now enforce a sales ban or even a recall of offending devices in Germany. Microsoft welcomed the ruling and expressed its hope that Motorola would join other Android manufacturers by taking out a license to use the technology.
Motorola Patent War
Since Microsoft began its legal assault on Android last year, Motorola remains the only major manufacturer not to have agreed a licensing deal. If it posts a bond of €75 million, Microsoft can prevent Motorola devices from being sold and for another €20 million it can enforce a recall.
The patent in question converts various user input methods, such as touchscreens, numeric keyboards and voice recognition into a single language. This means that developers do not need to write instructions for their applications to understand the different inputs, making it easier to write new software.
Last week, the same Munich court found that Motorola had violated an Apple patent relating to a “bounceback list” feature. However, rather than being an aesthetic feature, Microsoft’s patent is a key underlying part of Android, meaning that it would be more difficult to roll out a software fix.
Analyst Florian Mueller says that many, if not most of the hundreds of thousands of Android applications use the feature.
He said that Google would most likely appeal the ruling and request a stay, although stays are the exception rather than rule in Germany.
“In my opinion, this is by far and away the technically most impactful patent, apart from standard-essential patents, to have been enforced against anyone in the smartphone patent wars,” said Mueller. “The kinds of patents Apple has enforced so far, which are mostly multitouch-related, are much easier to work around than this one. It remains to be seen how long it will take Google to make the necessary changes.
“Absent a stay, it may have to temporarily pull out of the German market or do what Microsoft has been proposing to Motorola for years: take a royalty-bearing license to the industry’s leading operating system patent portfolio.”
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