updated 12:40 pm EDT, Mon April 2, 2012
Microsoft ends deal with Arvato over Motorola suit
Microsoft in a retaliatory move against Motorola ended teamwork with Germany company Arvato for software distribution. The move reported by Germany's Deutsche Presse-Agentur would see about 50 people lose their jobs as Microsoft relocated distribution to the Netherlands. The Windows developer argued that Motorola's H.264 video patent demands made staying in Germany untenable.
A decision is due in Motorola's case versus Microsoft on April 17. If successful, it could ban Windows 7 and the Xbox 360 at the same time, effectively gutting business in Germany. Moving to Germany's neighbor could reduce the vulnerability to legal actions if Motorola wins.
While the move is mostly a symbolic gesture, it comes in the face of multiple patent terms that work against the targets of patent lawsuits. Those that win patent infringement lawsuits can enforce a ban on their own, and in many cases can see those bans overturned after a protracted decision that rules a patent invalid. Court precedents have also typically set conditions for abuse that typically favor those suing with standards-based patents instead of making it easier to challenge possible abuse.
A Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology discussion last June raised the possibility of a change in habits, but Microsoft's main hope for action would come from a possible investigation of Motorola for patent abuse. Officials have been concerned that the RAZR designer, and Samsung, are going too far in defending against claims by Apple and Microsoft by asking rates that could cost billions of dollars a year when most other companies ask for millions or less. [via Florian Mueller]