A US judge ruled yesterday that Microsoft can continue selling Windows and Xbox 360 products in Germany, even if a German court grants an injunction request filed by Motorola, which is suing Microsoft over use of video-related, standards-essential patents.
The ruling is somewhat unusual. Motorola opposed the Microsoft motion for a temporary restraining order that led to the ruling, saying that it is a case of a US court injecting "itself into foreign litigation proceedings in an entirely unwarranted manner," a story in GeekWire notes.
But Judge James Robart of the US District Court for the Western District of Washington agreed with Microsoft. According to the IDG News Service, "Microsoft argued that if the judge would allow that German injunction to go forward, which ultimately might compel Microsoft to negotiate a license according to German law, the US court would lose its opportunity to make its own ruling on similar licensing issues. The US court should be the one to rule on that issue, Microsoft argued, because Microsoft filed its lawsuit against Motorola over the terms of a licensing deal before Motorola filed its suit in Germany."
Motorola Mobility, which is in the process of being acquired by Google, sued Microsoft over the use of patented technology essential to use of the H.264 video standard. Microsoft has argued that Motorola is trying to charge fees that are too high for patents licensed under FRAND (fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory terms).
The German court is expected to rule April 17 on Motorola's motion to prevent the sale of Windows software and the Xbox 360. Robart's ruling "bars Motorola from taking steps to carry out injunctive relief it may be granted by the German court until the US court has had time to rule on an original patent case filed in Seattle," the Wall Street Journalnotes. This prevents any Motorola action until May 7 or later.
Microsoft applauded the ruling, with Deputy General Counsel David Howard saying "Motorola promised to make its patents available to Microsoft and other companies on fair and reasonable terms. Today's ruling means Motorola can't prevent Microsoft from selling products until the court decides whether Motorola has lived up to its promise."