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Google closes in on Microsoft’s Xbox and Surface in patents trial

Patents case will drag on for years
Wed Nov 21 2012, 11:37

A COURT TRIAL in Seattle over patents between Microsoft and Motorola Mobility has closed, but the parties will submit their closing arguments as written briefs and the judge won't hand down his verdict until next Spring.

On the final day of testimony in this phase of the case, an expert witness for Motorola testified that Microsoft will make roughly $94bn in revenue in the years up to 2017 through hardware that uses Motorola's unlicensed patented technology.

That hardware, which includes the Xbox and the Surface tablet, was raised as part of Michael Dansky's testimony, says a report at Reuters. Reuters said it is not clear whether that figure includes past revenues.

Dansky was in no doubt about the importance of Motorola's patents and their place in Microsoft's hardware. Without them, "You will have a difficult time selling smart phones or tablets," he said.

There won't be much information about who holds what patents and who licenses them from whom, as the judge in the case heard testimony about agreements between the big players in a closed session. Previously he had indicated that this testimony would be public, but he said he was constrained by case law set down by the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

This is one of those push me, pull you patent cases and while Motorola has patent claims on Microsoft hardware, the argument between the two companies is primarily about setting royalty rates and won't be decided for years.

Groklaw has been covering the trial in excruciating detail, and summarised what we can anticipate to see in the future.

Pamela Jones wrote, "Keep in mind that it is Motorola's position that this court does not have authority to decide this issue of a RAND rate. I mention that because an appeal is almost certain, no matter what the judge rules, which won't be until 2013 now. And then, depending on what happens, there will be phase 2, the jury trial as to whether or not Motorola breached its contractual duties. And then the German ruling that Microsoft in fact is infringing Motorola's patents, with the obvious injunction to follow, which the Seattle judge put on hold until this case could be decided, looms on the horizon."

While Microsoft has been found to infringe Motorola patents on the H.264 codec, used in its hardware, it managed to convince a court that it owns a method of linking text messages.

This will be a long, hard slog. Microsoft has gone so far as to relocate some manufacturing from Germany because of the patents battle.

Motorola declined to comment about the case. We are awaiting a response from Microsoft. µ


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