U.S. judge backs Microsoft in Motorola patent dispute
SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp said on Wednesday it won a ruling in a Seattle court effectively preventing phone company Motorola Mobility from immediately obtaining an injunction in Germany that could stop Microsoft from selling its Xbox and other software products there, due to a patent disagreement.
Last week Microsoft announced plans to move its European distribution center to the Netherlands from Germany ahead of a German court decision expected on April 17, concerned that the court might side with Motorola and grant an injunction barring sales of its products in the country on the grounds that they infringe on a video technology patent owned by Motorola.
A judge in U.S. District Court in Seattle granted Microsoft a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order against Motorola in Germany, the software company said.
That means Motorola will not be able to get an injunction enforced barring sales of Microsoft products in Germany after the hearing on April 17, but must wait until the issue is settled to take any such action, if warranted.
"Motorola promised to make its patents available to Microsoft and other companies on fair and reasonable terms," said Microsoft deputy general counsel David Howard in an e-mailed statement. "Today's ruling means Motorola can't prevent Microsoft from selling products until the court decides whether Motorola has lived up to its promise."
Microsoft will have to post a multi-million dollar bond with the U.S. court, details of which will be available in the judge's full report to be made available on Thursday.
"As a result of today's hearing, Microsoft has committed to take a license under MMI's (Motorola's) patents essential to certain standards, in the event the court determines that Microsoft is entitled to a RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) -based license," said an emailed statement from Motorola. "Our focus from the outset has been to receive fair value for our intellectual property based on Microsoft's use of MMI's patented technology."
Next week, a regional court in Mannheim, Germany, is expected to decide whether Microsoft violated an agreement with Motorola by using certain video-compression software in products including Windows 7 and the Xbox 360 videogame console.
Microsoft says the patents are standard, essential parts of its software and that Motorola, which is in the process of being bought by Google Inc, is asking far too much in royalties for their use.
European regulators are investigating whether Motorola breached antitrust rules by allegedly over-charging Microsoft and Apple Inc for use of its patents in their products.
(Reporting By Bill Rigby; Editing by Carol Bishopric and Matt Driskill)