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Motorola Successfully Fends Off Microsoft Patent Claims

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe’s Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Motorola wins a rare skirmish in the pair’s epic, global battle

Google-owned Motorola Mobility has won a patent case against Microsoft, which had accused the phone maker of infringing on certain APIs, in what will be seen as a victory for Android.

Mannheim Regional Court said Motorola had not infringed on one patent, relating to a “method and radio interface layer comprising a set of application programming interfaces (APIs)”.

“This decision does not impact multiple injunctions Microsoft has already been awarded and has enforced against Motorola products in Germany,” said David Howard, associate general counsel at Microsoft, according to Reuters.

Patent claims

Microsoft and Motorola have been battling each other across different continents. In Europe, Microsoft has been fairly successful, even though it did not pick the fight in the first place. It was in 2011 that Motorola kicked off action against the Windows maker, only to be punished by various decisions against it when Microsoft counter-sued.

Last month, two decisions went Microsoft’s way in Germany. The first ruled that several of Motorola’s mobile devices infringed on the Windows developer’s intellectual property. Microsoft could enforce a ban on those devices if Motorola fails to agree to a licensing deal.

Later in September, a judge ruled that Motorola could not have certain Microsoft products banned in Germany, even though Motorola had previously won an injunction. That decision was handed down in the US, where Microsoft is fighting a breach of contract lawsuit with Motorola, which covers the patents in question. Motorola will have to see if it wins out in that case, due to start in November, before it can enforce the ban.

IP expert Florian Mueller said the fight was going well for Microsoft in Europe. “In retrospect, Microsoft should actually thank Motorola for this initiative, which at this stage has been far more productive for Microsoft than for Google.,” Mueller blogged.

“Motorola isn’t enforcing anything against Microsoft anywhere in the world at this juncture. It has only won one German injunction but hasn’t been able to enforce it yet and, after losing an appeal, most likely won’t be allowed to enforce it any time soon, if ever.”

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