German court rules against Microsoft in Motorola patent fight

MANNHEIM, Germany Wed May 2, 2012 7:10am EDT

Microsoft Xbox 360 gaming console units are shown for sale at a Microsoft retail store in San Diego January 18, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Microsoft Xbox 360 gaming console units are shown for sale at a Microsoft retail store in San Diego January 18, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

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MANNHEIM, Germany (Reuters) - A court in Mannheim ruled on Wednesday that Microsoft infringed Motorola Mobility's patents and ordered Microsoft to remove its popular Xbox 360 gaming consoles and Windows 7 operating system software from the German market.

However, Microsoft said that the ruling did not mean that its products would be taken off retailers' shelves because a U.S. district court in Seattle has granted Microsoft a preliminary injunction against Motorola to prevent the phone maker from enforcing any German court order.

"Motorola is prohibited from acting on today's decision, and our business in Germany will continue as usual while we appeal this decision and pursue the fundamental issue of Motorola's broken promise," Microsoft said in a response to the ruling.

The Mannheim case is related to the larger smartphone patent war being fought by Apple, Microsoft and mobile phone makers who use Google's Android software such as Samsung.

German judge Holger Kircher said on Wednesday Microsoft breached an agreement with Motorola Mobility, which is in the process of being bought by Google, in using certain video-compression software in products including Windows 7 and Xbox.

But following complaints by Microsoft and Apple the EU competition authorities have opened two investigations into whether Motorola has been over-charging for the use of its patents in their rival products.

Technology companies have invested billions of dollars in buying up patent portfolios that they can use defensively or offensively against rivals and spent still more money litigating in the United States and Europe.

Last week a judge for the U.S. International Trade Commission also said Microsoft infringed Motorola Mobility's patents for technology used in the Xbox's wireless internet connection and video compression functions.


However, Wednesday's ruling is also expected to have little immediate impact for Microsoft's wider European distribution operations as it has already moved its regional software distribution centre to the Netherlands from Germany in anticipation of adverse judgments in the patent trial.

Germany has in recent months become a major battleground in the global patent war between makers of mobile phones, tablet computer devices and their operating software as court actions there have proved to be relatively cheap and speedier than in other jurisdictions.

Earlier this year German courts forced Korea's Samsung Electronics to stop selling its Galaxy 10.1 tablet in the country and told Apple Inc to de-activate "push" notification features for some customers in Germany.

(Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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Comments (5)
canpie wrote:
Ahh, how sweet it is!

May 02, 2012 6:44am EDT  --  Report as abuse
DimSum wrote:
patents destruct innovation.

May 02, 2012 8:37am EDT  --  Report as abuse
tmc wrote:
Seems that all of the tech companies of the 90s have all turned into big global behemoths that have lost the ability to innovate and now in a “keep market share at all costs” mode. So they are all suing each other and merging and all those great corporate maneuvers and spin. They changed the business model in the late 890s to off-shoring the technical staff that was the root of innovation. In less than two decades they managed to off-shore so much, and import so many Indians (India’s biggest export is Indians) the we have virtually no technical staff left. Ask any VC if he will fund a technology startup that does not have “an off-shore component”. It’s is turning out that Indian, Chinese, and the ex-soviet block countries don’t seem to want to be there income source. For some reason they still seem to cling to the old national spirit of their home countries. Meaning, they fill the factories and jobs for the global, but they retain their innovations for themselves. It will be interesting to see how the global economy looks in another decade. Western financial shenanigans are being replaced with Asian ones. Perhaps in three decades we’ll actually have a real global economy.

May 02, 2012 9:04am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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