updated 12:30 am EST, Sat December 22, 2012
UK court invalidates Motorola patent, hands win to Microsoft
A High Court judge in England has ruled that a key Motorola patent being used against Microsoft is invalid, which should result in the lifting of an injunction against Apple. The Motorola patent, for syncing messages across many mobile devices, forms the basis of an injunction that prevents Apple's iCloud push notification from being used in Germany. Apple is likely to ask for a hearing on staying the ban pending the outcome of any appeals. Judge Richard Arnold not only ruled the patent invalid, but said it should be revoked, since it threatens many other modern services.
The decision comes shortly before another Microsoft and Motorola case is set to begin in Germany in February. Apple also has two upcoming patent disputes with Motorola coming up, and will likely ask the regional court to lift the injunction against push messaging in iCloud.
The original patent specifically covers syncing message status across pagers, and was granted in the 1990s. Apple's method is different, and covers email, texts and more modern technology. The patent, European Patent EP0847654, is the equivalent to US Patent 5,754,119, and was ruled in Germany to extend to modern technologies, thus causing the injunction that shut down iCloud in Germany.
The invalidation of the Motorola patent could put both Moto and its parent company Google into a considerably weaker position, both in its litigation efforts against Microsoft as well as Apple. The judicial invalidation of a patent carries more weight than a patent office preliminary invalidation, as has been recently handed down to two of Apple's key iOS patents.
Unless overturned on appeal, the UK court ruling is considered final and will have an effect on any other litigation Motorola is involved in. The judge noted in his invalidation order that if the patent had been upheld, other services such as Microsoft's Live Messenger and Exchange email services could conceivably be shut down for being in violation of the patent.