updated 01:17 pm EST, Sat December 1, 2012
Judge Robard sees Financial relief adequate to solve the licensing issue
Judge James Robard, overseeing the Motorola Mobility versus Microsoft patent trial in the Western District of Washington court, ruled Friday that Motorola cannot obtain a sales injunction in Microsoft products because they may infringe on standards-essential patents. Robard left the door open to financial damages for the Google-owned Motorola Mobility, ruling that "as a matter of logic, the impending license agreement will adequately remedy Motorola as a matter of law."
"Motorola’s obligation to grant such a RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) license to Microsoft far preceded the onset of this litigation, meaning that at all times during this litigation, the issue was not if, but when and under what terms, a license agreement would be established between Microsoft and Motorola," ruled the judge.
The ruling is the latest in a string of ruling supporting the notion that fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (RAND or FRAND) patents are intended to generate standards and interoperability between devices from different manufacturers. A patent agreed to be a FRAND patent by the inventor must be licensed to all who desire to use the technology, at a rate not deemed abusive.
Motorola is seeking $4 billion a year for patents in its portfolio, whereas Microsoft believes that the value is $1.25 million or less. Microsoft is also claiming that Google agreed to grant a worldwide license as part of the MPEG LA AVC essential patent rules, under the standard rate agreement, which would also greatly reduce the amount owed Motorola if the offer is found to be valid.
Microsoft claims that the Motorola fee is unreasonable, and as such, a violation of its FRAND obligations. Motorola has argued that the offer is the same it offers universally, and fair value of the license should be dictated by previous contracts it has successfully negotiated with other licensees.
Both parties have requested that the courtroom be cleared when financial details were discussed, despite Motorola using the facts as defense. Judge Robart denied the request -- the general public will not be allowed to see documents describing patent negotiations or other financial data. The judge did declare that any testimony will be given in an open court, saying in his ruling yesterday that "if a witness discloses pertinent terms, rates or payments, such information will necessarily be made public."
Robard - Microsoft Versus Motorola