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Microsoft may force Google to the table
German court deals victory in patents case against Motorola Mobility, which will pile on pressure to settle.
No sooner had Google completed its $12.5bn, patents-driven acquisition of Motorola Mobility, than its new subsidiary was dealt a severe blow by Microsoft in the firms' German legal battle. The latest court decision could lead to a ban on Android products in Europe's largest market, which may in turn drive the two giants to the negotiating table.
The case concerns a Microsoft patent related to text messaging. Though each side in the long dispute has scored points along the way, this is the first significant and final decision, with the possibility of an injunction being imposed on Motorola products.
That would give the Windows giant the upper hand in settlement negotiations, but the pressure will be on Google to enter talks, for the sake of Motorola sales and also possible claims against other Android players. Most large Android OEMs, however, have now signed licensing deals for the IPR Microsoft holds in the Linux-based OS. Samsung and HTC are among those licensees, but Motorola has been the main hold-out. Microsoft recently ended actions against Barnes & Noble when it took a stake in the bookseller's digital unit.
"Google-Motorola will have to take a licence, leave the German market, or face serious issues that affect app developers and users," Florian Mueller, author of the Foss Patents blog, told CNet.
A Motorola representative said in a statement that the company will review its options after studying the written decision, which is expected to be released on June 1. Microsoft's deputy general counsel David Howard said: "We hope Motorola will be willing to join other Android device makers by taking a license to our patents."
In another twist in the increasingly complex wireless patents war, Huawei has filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission against major IPR owner InterDigital. In the motion, it urges the EC to intervene to end what it says are InterDigital's abuses of its 3G patents. The Chinese firm, which has been accumulating a significant patents mountain of its own, claims the US company is trying to impose "discriminatory, unfair and exploitative" licence terms for its 3G standards-essential patents, in breach of European FRAND licensing practices.
[ ] 2012-05-27