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US Judge Rules Against German Microsoft Injunction 272

Posted by samzenpus
from the trump-card dept.
angry tapir writes "In an unusual case, a U.S. judge has ruled that Motorola cannot enforce an injunction that would prevent Microsoft from selling Windows products in Germany, should a German court issue such an injunction next week. Microsoft asked the judge for the ruling in anticipation of an injunction that a German court is expected to issue related to a patent infringement suit that Motorola filed against Microsoft in Germany. The suit centers primarily on Motorola licenses that have been declared essential to the H.264 video standard. The German injunction is expected on April 17."
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US Judge Rules Against German Microsoft Injunction

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  • Re:Eh? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @04:55AM (#39655379)

    So if Motorola were to do it anyway, I guess German customs would still enforce the injunction, but Motorola mangement in the US would risk punishment.

    I'm just curious, as to what law Motorola would have broken by pursuing legal action in another country against another US company, that would allow for its management to be punished? And what punishment would that be?
    I mean, I didn't even think laws that can punish management existed at all in the US.

  • Re:Eh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by DarkDust (239124) <marc@darkdust.net> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @05:10AM (#39655445) Homepage

    In Germany, if the court grants you an injunction it is not automatically enforced immediately. The winning party needs to explicitly enforce it.

    Now a US court decided that the company Motorola may not enforce this injunction should it win it, since there are ongoing actions that have not been decided (like, whether the patent in question is actually invalid). So if Motorola were to enforce this injunction it would have an unfair disadvantage.

    So the US court has not interfered with German courts: it only ruled what the company Motorola may do should it win this battle in Germany.

  • Re:Better article (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:11AM (#39655689)

    You do know that Florian Muller is on Microsoft's payroll. Are you as well?

  • by rmstar (114746) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:57AM (#39655957)

    Another funny thing is that Microsoft [win7vista.com] fled from Germany for the Netherlands fearing patent issues related to Motorola. This is raising quite a few eyebrows over in the EU already.

  • Re:Eh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by DJRumpy (1345787) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @07:31AM (#39656211)

    Read the article again. The suit was filed in a US court before Motorola then went to Germany and file a suit for patent infringement with two key FRAND patents in this case (they are asking MS for %2.25 of it's sales price/unit). The judge's position is that Motorola is seeking to use the threat of injunction in Germany to try to force MS to settle for less reasonable terms before the U.S. judge makes his decision. The judge agreed that Motorola was attempting to pre-empt a decision by the U.S. court to their advantage.

    The meat of the article is here:

    Issuing the order preventing Motorola from enforcing a German injunction caused the least amount of harm, Robart said. If he had allowed Motorola to enforce a German injunction, Microsoft might have needed to remove its Windows products from the German market, or the company could have decided to negotiate a license, but only with the threat of an injunction hanging over its head. Granting Microsoft's request, however, simply requires Motorola to maintain the status quo, he said.

    At a hearing on Wednesday, Motorola's lawyer argued that Robart shouldn't interfere in the German case because the actions in the German court will have no impact on any ruling the U.S. judge might make in the future. Should the German court set a licensing rate that the U.S. court later ruled was too high, the U.S. courts could compel Motorola to pay back Microsoft for what it overpaid, said Jess Jenner, a lawyer with Ropes and Gray who represents Motorola.

    Robart didn't support that reasoning. "The court is not persuaded by this argument," Robart said.

    In addition, Jenner argued that the U.S. could set different rates for different regions of the world.

    Motorola has offered Microsoft a worldwide license that would require Microsoft to pay Motorola 2.25 percent of the end-user price of the product. Motorola assumed that that percentage would change and that Microsoft would ask for different rates in different countries, Jenner said. "Parties in a negotiation situation always make an opening offer. Nobody assumes that Microsoft will say 'that's great, where do we send the check,'" he said. Typically, the licensee examines each company's patent holdings in different countries and negotiates different rates in different markets, he said. Motorola has negotiated "dozens" of license agreements like that, he said.

    But both Microsoft and the judge noted that Motorola's offer to Microsoft was for a worldwide license. The judge also pointed out that Motorola's offer included both U.S. and international patents. "If Motorola didn't want foreign patents subject to this court it would not have offered them to Microsoft," he said.

    Motorola is a global company, and they have vested interests in the U.S.. Given Motorola's apparently willingness to extort companies on F/RAND patents, I don't have much pity for them.

  • by rioki (1328185) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @09:07AM (#39657187) Homepage

    The way this works in Germany is that the court gives you a paper that says can order an injunction and what terms apply (in most cases you must post a bond). You then can take that paper to the Gerichtsvollzieher (marshal / bailiff) which then executes the injunction. The interesting point is that these two steps are independent and you can chose not to execute the injunction.

    So the judge ordered Motorola not to execute the injunction. How that is interfering with German sovereignty is a different and debatable point.

  • Re:Eh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by chrb (1083577) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:12AM (#39658125)
    The USPTO disagree: [uspto.gov]

    How do I protect my patent internationally?
    Since the rights granted by a U.S. patent extend only throughout the territory of the United States and have no effect in a foreign country, an inventor who wishes patent protection in other countries must apply for a patent in each of the other countries or in regional patent offices. Almost every country has its own patent law, and a person desiring a patent in a particular country must make an application for patent in that country, in accordance with the requirements of that country.

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