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Motorola banned from patent injunctions

US court sides with Microsoft
Tue Dec 04 2012, 17:08

A UNITED STATES District Court has denied an attempt by Motorola to get the Microsoft XBox banned from sale in the US and cost the firm some control over its patents, at least for a while.

The ruling on Microsoft's home turf in Seattle prevents Motorola from obtaining an injunction because it could not prove that "irreparable harm" has been done to it.

Motorola can of course appeal and most likely will appeal. Today it told us that it has no comment. Microsoft had no comment either, but was glad to quote US District Court Judge James Robart's decision.

Microsoft has complained about its treatment since it was sued and asked to pay to use the patents, saying that Motorola was trying to cause harm to its business over trifles.

Microsoft had argued against injunctive relief, saying that its rival could not "show irreparable harm or that monetary damages would be inadequate", according to coverage at Groklaw.

"Because Microsoft will pay royalties under any license agreement from the time of infringement within the statute of limitations, this license agreement will constitute Motorola's remedy for Microsoft's use of Motorola's H.264 standard essential patent portfolio to include the Motorola Asserted Patents," wrote the judge.

"Accordingly, Motorola cannot demonstrate that it has been irreparably harmed."

The appeal had been over just two patents, one for video and one for WiFi, but the judge dealt Motorola a blow when he ruled on its entire H.264 patent portfolio both in the US and Germany and said that it could never get the patent argument whammy of a sales injunction.

"This court's order not only dismisses injunctive relief for the Motorola Asserted Patents, but also for Motorola's entire H.264 standard essential patent portfolio including the European Patents at issue in the German action," he wrote.

Microsoft was happy to talk about its woes earlier this year and in a blog post from February, Dave Heiner, VP and deputy general counsel at Microsoft played the victim card, saying that Motorola was trying to kill video.

"These products enable people to view videos on the Web and to connect wirelessly to the Internet using industry standards," He said. "Motorola and all the other firms that contributed to these standards also made a promise to one another: that if they had any patents essential to the standards, they would make their patents available on fair and reasonable terms, and would not use them to block competitors from shipping their products," he added.

Heiner said that Motorola was demanding a royalty of $22.50 on a $1,000 laptop and accused it of being unfair and grasping.

"Imagine if every firm acted like Motorola. Windows implements more than 60 standards, and a PC supports about 200. If every firm priced its standard essential patents like Motorola, the cost of the patents would be greater than all the other costs combined in making PCs, tablets, smartphones and other devices," he said. "Obviously, this would greatly increase the prices of these devices for consumers."

However, Microsoft has refused to negotiate with Motorola to reach agreement on fair royalty rates for Motorola's patents, apparently preferring instead to argue in court. µ


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