German Court Outlaws Motorola’s Android Smartphones

Microsoft deals a heavy blow to Google

A German court in Mannheim has ruled that Motorola Mobility, now owned by Google, infringed a Microsoft patent relating to File Allocation Table (FAT) architecture in the software of its Android smartphones.

If Microsoft puts up a €10 million (£6.3 million) bond and the injunction is enforced, Motorola Android phones could be pulled from sale in Germany and the company would have to pay damages.

Criminal android

FAT is a legacy filesystem which is very simple, but cannot offer the same performance, reliability and scalability as modern alternatives such as NTFS. It is, however, supported by virtually all existing operating systems for personal computers and is a well-suited format for data exchange between computers and devices of almost any other type.

Microsoft sued Motorola for infringing its 1994 patent EP0618540 in the design of software for Android smartphones, including the Atrix and Razr devices.

“Today’s decision, which follows similar rulings in the US and Germany, is further proof that Motorola Mobility is broadly infringing Microsoft’s intellectual property,” said David Howard, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel for Microsoft, in a statement.

“We will continue to enforce injunctions against Motorola Mobility products in [the US and Germany] and hope they will join other Android device makers by taking a license to Microsoft’s patented inventions,” he added.

According to patent law expert Florian Mueller, Motorola Mobility is the only major Android device maker to refuse to take a royalty-bearing patent license from Microsoft.

The ruling follows Thursday’s decision of a Munich court to dismiss another lawsuit brought by Microsoft against Motorola over a patent related to event management in an operating system. Microsoft is set to appeal the ruling.

The two companies have been waging a patent war for some time, both in Europe and the US. In April, a US International Trade Commission judge had issued an initial ruling that Microsoft’s Xbox gaming console infringes on Motorola Mobility-owned patents. However, in June, the Commission had returned Motorola’s case back to the Judge that gave the initial ruling for a review. A new decision is expected in several months.

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