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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

November 30, 2012 at 4:43 PM

Federal judge dismisses certain Motorola patent claims that could’ve led to Xbox and Windows sales restrictions

U.S. District Judge James Robart has sided with Microsoft in his dismissal of certain Motorola patent claims that could have led to restrictions on the sales of Xbox and Windows.

Motorola had sought injunctive relief — including bans on the import or sale of certain Microsoft products such as Xbox and Windows — for what it said was Microsoft’s violations of certain Motorola patents.

Robart’s ruling means Motorola can’t enforce an injunction it won from a German court earlier this year that would have banned the sales of Xbox and Windows products in Germany.

His decision also means, more broadly, that Motorola can’t seek import bans of Microsoft products into the U.S. or any other country, based on violations of Motorola patents related to H.264 video-streaming technology standards and 802.11 wireless connectivity technology standards.

Robart’s ruling could also affect a case Motorola has pending before the U.S. International Trade Commission, in which Motorola is seeking an import ban on Xbox consoles into the U.S. because the consoles contain Motorola patents related to those standards. (Xbox consoles are manufactured in China.)

Robart, a judge in the U.S. District Court in Seattle, wrote in his ruling, dated Thursday, that he granted Microsoft’s motion because “Motorola has not shown it has suffered an irreparable injury or that remedies available at law are inadequate to compensate for its injury.”

Motorola, however, could appeal Robart’s decision.

Microsoft declined to comment on the decision. Motorola, now owned by Google, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Judge Robart’s decision stems from a lawsuit Microsoft filed in November 2010, claiming that Motorola breached its contract to provide, at reasonable rates, use of its patented technologies that have become part of industry standards in online-video viewing and wireless usage.

(Private companies that hold such industry-standard patents agree, as part of joining international-standards groups, to license them under “fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory” — or FRAND — terms.)

Both sides presented their cases in a trial that was held earlier this month. Judge Robart is expected to issue a decision early next year on what a reasonable royalty rate or range is for such patents — the first time a federal judge would be issuing such a ruling. After that, a jury would compare that reasonable rate to Motorola’s offer and determine whether Motorola breached its agreement.



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