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German court ruling against Microsoft threatens Xbox, Windows 7


Frank Jordans

A court in Germany ruled Wednesday that Microsoft infringed two patents held by Motorola, in a case that could affect sales of its popular Xbox 360 console and the Windows 7 operating system.

The patent spat between the two companies centers on technology used for video compression that is owned by Motorola Mobility Holdings, which Google is in the process of buying for $US12.5 billion.

Following earlier complaints from Microsoft and Apple, the European Union's competition watchdog opened two separate probes into whether Motorola unfairly limited rivals from using its patents by demanding exorbitant fees.

In Wednesday's ruling, the state court in the southern city of Mannheim upheld Motorola's complaint on the patent breaches and declared Microsoft liable for unspecified damages.

The court also ordered Microsoft to remove all products that infringe the patents from the German market, including its Xbox 360 console and the Windows 7 operating system.

But both parties have seven days to appeal before the verdict comes into force, and Microsoft spokesman Thomas Baumgaertner said the company planned to do so. Should Motorola want the verdict enforced before a final appeals ruling is issued, it would have to deposit several tens of millions of euros as a legal security, the court said.

A US court meanwhile has warned Motorola not to enforce the German verdict until it too has considered the patent issue.

"At the moment, there is no risk that we will be ordered to halt sales," Baumgaertner said.

He said Microsoft hoped the German court's ruling could open the way for a fairer licensing deal with Motorola.

Motorola issued a statement welcoming the verdict.

"We remain open to resolving this matter," said the company. "Fair compensation is all that we have been seeking for our intellectual property."

AP Digital

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6 comments so far

  • I wonder if will affect Windows 8?

    Date and time
    May 03, 2012, 1:20PM
    • Whether it is Apple vs Samsung or some no-name suing major companies, patent trolling shows just how broken the patent system is. It's all about making money off someone else's success without having to do anything. The system needs a complete overhaul.

      Steve T
      Date and time
      May 03, 2012, 1:43PM
      • The usual posters "opining" with a total lack of knowledge of any of the facts.

        If somebody creates the work, intellectual being the kind most avoided by freeloaders, they should get rewarded.


        Tim Balmer
        Date and time
        May 03, 2012, 2:34PM
        • Patent trolling is extremely wide spread at the moment in the technology sector. A lot of the time in patent cases the current owner of the patent wasn't the original inventor, they just purchased the patent at a cheap price many years before when it appeared to be worthless. There is companies that specialize in doing this and this only as a way of making profit.

          Date and time
          May 04, 2012, 8:49AM
      • Damn...wish I was the guy who invented the wheel :) just think of the royalties :)

        Date and time
        May 03, 2012, 3:37PM
        • Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not sure if the word "patent" or "money" had invented during the invention of the wheel!

          Date and time
          May 03, 2012, 9:55PM

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