Motorola has seen its Android products banned in Germany, after a Mannheim judge decided that its smartphones and tablets infringe a patent Microsoft holds. The ruling, handed down this morning at the Mannheim court, FOSS Patents reports, concerns a FAT memory patent and specifically how long and short filenames are handled.
The patent, filed back in the 1990s, details the paired short and long filenames connected by the File Allocation Table (FAT) and how the operating system can use either to locate the individual file in question. If Motorola wishes to avoid licensing and further rulings of infringement, it will have to use an alternative file system; that's not an impossibility, but it could present delays for future Motorola devices and introduce incompatibilities between some PCs and devices.
David Howard, Microsoft's deputy general counsel, has already praised the court's decision. In a statement to Engadget, he took the opportunity to point out that Motorola - and Google - could avoid a further world of pain simply by following the herd and licensing Microsoft's patents:
"Today's decision, which follows similar rulings in the U.S. and Germany, is further proof that Motorola Mobility is broadly infringing Microsoft's intellectual property. We will continue to enforce injunctions against Motorola Mobility products in those countries and hope they will join other Android device makers by taking a license to Microsoft's patented inventions" David Howard, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, Microsoft
Microsoft can choose to apply the granted injunction against Motorola products in Germany if it stumps up a €10m ($12m) bond; alternatively, it can opt to have all infringing products withdrawn from retail, and receive damages from Motorola. The exact figure of those damages is yet to be confirmed.
Interestingly, Motorola was apparently given the opportunity to cite FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing issues as a defense - with the expectation presumably that the company would argue Microsoft was demanding unfair fees - but it opted not to. Since there are already alternative file systems, the Microsoft patent isn't considered standards-essential.
Motorola is likely to appeal the decision, though is yet to issue a statement on the ruling.
Update: Apparently the RAZR, RAZR MAXX and ATRIX are all among the Motorola handsets impacted by the ruling.