Microsoft scores victory in German patent fight with Motorola

The verdict may result in a sales ban and damages, but Motorola can appeal

Google-owned Motorola Mobility is infringing a Microsoft patent related to text input, a lower regional court in Munich decided on Thursday. The verdict will result in a sales ban on some phones and Motorola will also be liable for damages if an expected appeal is unsuccessful, the court said.

For Microsoft, the verdict in Munich -- which is related to patent EP1040406, which describes a method for handling communication between a keyboard and an application -- is a victory in a series of infringement cases against Motorola in Germany.

"We're pleased this decision builds on previous rulings in Germany that have already found Motorola is broadly infringing Microsoft's intellectual property. We will continue to enforce injunctions against Motorola products in Germany and hope Motorola will join other Android device makers by taking a license to Microsoft's patented inventions," Microsoft said in an emailed statement.

The injunction and sales ban haven't gone into effect since Motorola gets a chance to appeal the verdict, a spokeswoman at the court said.

Previously Microsoft has won injunctions against Motorola in the U.S. and Germany for infringing patents related to the FAT file system, SMS messaging and ActiveSync.

Microsoft has been successful in convincing makers of Android-based smartphones, including Samsung Electronics and HTC, to sign licensing agreements. But Motorola has refused to do the same, hence the bad blood.

Recently Microsoft suggested that the two companies make peace, but only if a broad agreement is signed.

"With its phones and tablets now subject to injunctions in the U.S. and Germany, Google can no longer doubt the relevance of Microsoft's patent portfolio to Motorola's products," Microsoft counsels Brad Smith and Horacio Gutierrez said in a blog post.

Unsurprisingly, Motorola wasn't ready to settle and said that Microsoft was seeking inflated royalties tied to standards that Microsoft alone controls, while at the same time undercutting Motorola's own patent portfolio.

Motorola didn't immediately answer questions regarding the verdict in Munich.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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Mikael Ricknäs

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