updated 08:00 pm EDT, Fri September 28, 2012
Court claims authority as complaint 'between two US corporations'
A three-judge panel from the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has ruled that Google's Motorola Mobility cannot enforce a German patent injunction ruling against Microsoft. The original ruling granted Microsoft's request for a temporary restraining order against a sales injunction, which was ordered against Microsoft's Xbox 360 console in Germany, and the lower court order has now been upheld.
The Ninth Circuit ruled that since Microsoft had already brought a lawsuit against Motorola for breach of contract in the US, the US court has the power to stop the European order, allowing Microsoft to continue selling the gaming console and Windows 7 in Germany.
"At bottom, this case is a private dispute under Washington state contract law between two US corporations," the court ruled today. This ruling is only indirectly part of the United States battle between Motorola and Microsoft commenced in 2010, but has little bearing on the ongoing "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory" (FRAND) dispute that Google and Motorola are being investigated over by the Federal Trade Commission.
Motorola and Microsoft have been embroiled in a patent dispute involving Microsoft's ActiveSync technology and Motorola's H.264 video playback patent. Microsoft has won bans for ActiveSync patent violation on select Motorola devices in Germany and the United States. Motorola has likewise won a ban on Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming console, which is currently under review and public discussion at the US International Trade Commission.
Microsoft has refused a settlement offer by Motorola which involved Microsoft paying more than 100 times the industry-standard rate for the H.264 patent. Microsoft may be able to sidestep the large licensing fee entirely, as parent company Google has allegedly offered Microsoft a FRAND-compliant H.264 patent license in the past, and Motorola would now be bound by the agreement since Google acquired it as a subsidiary.