Just days after Google closed its purchase of Motorola Mobility, the combined operation finds itself facing a theoretical ban on Android device sales in Germany.
This is the result of a patent suit (surprise!) brought by Microsoft regarding Motorola’s alleged infringement of a text message patent held by Redmond. Of course, it’s also part of a German tit-for-tat battle between the companies — last time round it was Motorola that won a ‘ban’ on Microsoft’s Windows and Xbox sales.
The latest decision came through on Thursday afternoon from the Munich regional court. As usual, it won’t mean anything concrete until Microsoft tries to enforce it, which would require posting a €25 million ($ 31 million) bond. No word yet on whether Microsoft will do that.
What Microsoft spokesman Thomas Baumgartner did tell me was this:
“We are pleased the court agreed today that Motorola has infringed on Microsoft’s intellectual property and we hope Motorola will be willing to join other Android device makers by taking a license to our patents.”
And here’s what patent expert Florian Mueller, who was in the court, had to say about the implications:
Google-Motorola will have to take a license, leave the German market or face serious issues that affect app developers and users.
— Florian Mueller (@FOSSpatents) May 24, 2012
Text messaging functionality is pretty fundamental stuff, but this isn’t one of those standards-essential patents that are supposed to be unusable as legal weapons.
It should be noted that Microsoft also won a U.S. import ban on Motorola’s Android devices in the last week, although the ITC also decided Moto deserved a ban on Xbox 360 imports a few days after that. This is clearly a give-and-take game.
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