Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
On Thursday, a Seattle judge handed down a summary judgment which rules that Motorola will not be able to seek an injunction in their case against Microsoft. These two companies have been battling it out in a Washington courtroom for over a year, ever since Redmond-based Microsoft claimed Motorola has been violating some of their patents. Motorola soon returned fire, saying Microsoft is also guilty of infringing on some of their standards essential patents relating to the H.264 video codec and IEEE 80.11 Wi-Fi patents. This ruling means that Google´s Motorola will not be able to seek a ban on Microsoft´s Xbox. Instead, should the judge find in Moto´s favor, they´ll only be able to seek damages from Microsoft.
Judge James L. Robart handed down this summary judgment after hearing a 2-week long case between these 2 companies, and though he´s said Moto won´t be able to seek an injunction in his court, he has yet to issue a ruling on the case.
This case comes down to the kind of patents being cited, which should be priced according to the RAND (or Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) basis.
These standards essential patents are just as they sound. Some companies, such as Google, (who owns Motorola) Microsoft and Samsung, own the patents which cover some of the basic ways today´s technology works. Most cell phones and other devices, for example, make use of Wi-Fi connectivity. Judge Robart´s summary judgment helps to solidify previous rulings: Standards Essential Patents (or SEPs) cannot be used to seek an injunction against another company if that company is suspected of violating these patents. Instead, these SEPs should be licensed out according to the RAND (sometimes called FRAND) terms.
Judge Robart´s ruling is also consistent with another ruling against Moto this summer. In the case between Apple and Motorola in an Illinois court, Judge Richard Posner threw out the case with prejudice, calling out Google´s Motorola for seeking an injunction against a company using their patents under a FRAND license and trying to get additional money from Apple outside of their licensing agreement.
In this Seattle case, Motorola argued that they should be exempt from the RAND rules because Microsoft had brought the case first. According to the Foss Patents blog, Judge Robart´s ruling is different from Judge Posner´s in that this recent case will result in a licensing agreement.
In order to have been granted injunctive relief, Google´s Motorola had to prove that they had suffered irreparable harm from Microsoft´s alleged patent violation. In the end, Moto was unable to prove this irreparable harm and, therefore, their chance for an injunction was removed.
“Because Microsoft will pay royalties under any license agreement from the time of infringement within the statute of limitations, this license agreement will constitute Motorola´s remedy for Microsoft´s use of Motorola´s H.264 standard essential patent portfolio to include the Motorola Asserted Patents. Accordingly, Motorola cannot demonstrate that it has been irreparably harmed,” wrote Robart in his ruling.
Now, the two companies will have to reach a license agreement and settle the terms in a future meeting. This agreement could happen as early as late December, though some believe it may not happen until early next year.