July 28, 2012
German Court Rules In Favor Of Microsoft In FAT Technology Patent Case
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
A German court has ruled in favor of Microsoft in a patent infringement case against Google's Motorola Mobility unit. In the judgment, Microsoft won the ability to place an injunction on Motorola to stop the sale of phones using Microsoft's FAT technology, for which it holds an international patent.Motorola phones affected by the injunction include the Razr, Razr Maxx, and Atrix smartphones running Android. Motorola will not only be blocked from the sale of products listed in the injunction, but will have to issue a recall. Motorola will also have to pay damages, an article on Fox Business says.
Microsoft holds patent EP0618540, which was granted in 1994, for FAT technology. The technology helps operating systems manage long filenames and short filenames into a short filename directory.
Microsoft corporate vice president and deputy general counsel David Howard released a statement. "Today's decision, which follows similar rulings in the U.S. and Germany, is further proof that Motorola Mobility is broadly infringing Microsoft's intellectual property. We will continue to enforce injunctions against Motorola Mobility products in those countries and hope they will join other Android device makers by taking a license to Microsoft's patented inventions."
In order to enforce the injunction, Microsoft will have to put up a 10 million euro ($12.3 million) bond, according to a report on Engadget. Two options Motorola has under the injunction are to pay licensing fees to Microsoft for use of the FAT technology on its smartphones, or to stop the sale of handsets that use the infringing technology. Motorola may also be responsible for additional fees to cover damages to Microsoft and its patent.
Motorola may have neglected to use one argument that might have helped in this case. The company, which was recently acquired by Google, was apparently given the opportunity to cite FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-descriminatory), SlashGear learned. Using FRAND, Motorola could have argued Microsoft was demanding unfair fees. The article states, "Since there are already alternative file systems, the Microsoft patent isn't considered standards-essential."
While there are other file allocation systems out there, VentureBeat says Motorola is the only Android handset device maker that hasn't licensed Microsoft's FAT technology. The article cites Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents, saying more than 70 percent of Android phones use Microsoft's patented technology. If Motorola decides to look for options other than licensing FAT technology from Microsoft, there are few options. One possibility might be an open-source, Linux-based file allocation system.
This isn't the first time Microsoft and Motorola have gone to courts over patent infringements. In May the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that Motorola infringed upon Microsoft patents. In the same month a German court banned sales of Motorola Android phones using technology under a Microsoft patent that handles how cell phones communicate. Patent suits between the two companies goes beyond Android-based cell phones. An additional patent suit between the two companies concerns the Xbox, which Motorola says violates a number of patents.