Motorola Gets Windows 7 And Xbox 360 Banned In Germany

However US court rules injunction cannot be enforced…yet

Motorola Mobility has been granted an injunction that prevents Microsoft from distributing its Windows 7 operating system and Xbox 360 game console in Germany.

A court in Mannheim ruled that Microsoft had infringed on two standards essential patents for H.264 video encoding and playback, but the Redmond-based company says that it plans to appeal, while a US court has banned Motorola from enforcing the injunction until next week.

Let’s all be FRANDS

The patents are related to an “adaptive motion compensation using a plurality of motion compensators” and “adaptive compression of digital video data.” Motorola has an obligation to offer these patents under Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory Terms (FRAND), which it doesn’t, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft says that if it met Motorola’s demands for the patents, it would have to pay the manufacturer $4 billion (£2.5 billion) a year, a figure that the Windows developer disputes.

“This is one step in a long process, and we are confident that Motorola will eventually be held to its promise to make its standard essential patents available on fair and reasonable terms for the benefit of consumers who enjoy video on the web,” a Microsoft spokesperson told TechWeekEurope. “Motorola is prohibited from acting on today’s decision, and our business in Germany will continue as usual while we appeal this decision and pursue the fundamental issue of Motorola’s broken promise.”

Analyst Florian Mueller thinks that Motorola is likely to face a number of challenges in enforcing the injunction, not least the European Commission’s antitrust probe, which followed a Microsoft complaint that the soon-to-be-Google-owned manufacturer was using its FRAND patents to block product sales.

Potential challenges

“Brussels will certainly take note of today’s ruling, and EU antitrust law trumps German law at the end of the day,” commented Mueller. “Since the injunction will definitely be appealed by Microsoft right away, it can only be enforced on a preliminary basis, which means Motorola is liable for damages of premature enforcement should the injunction turn out to have been improperly-granted (which I believe it ultimately will be).”

Mueller also adds that the appeals court can suspend the injunction if it believes that Microsoft’s appeal is more likely to win than not.

Last week, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) issued an initial ruling that the Xbox 360 infringed a number of Motorola patents relating to industry standard video coding, Wi-Fi and device-to-device communication.

Microsoft has complained that these should be made available under FRAND terms, and an American court has ruled that the German injunction cannot be enforced until there’s a ruling from the US. Mueller adds that if Microsoft keeps on winning, Motorola will not be able to enforce the Mannheim ruling.

Regardless of the outcome, Microsoft will still move its distribution centre from Germany to the Netherlands over fears that patent litigation could affect its European supply chain.

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