The wrangling over patents has shifted its focus to Motorola today, which took a blow in court over standards-essential patents and how much the company is entitled to over them. Specifically, the now Google-owned Motorola Mobility sought billions from Microsoft over its use of the patents, but a judge has put the kibosh on that, dropping the figure substantially.
Such a ruling has impact outside of this particular legal spat, potentially laying a foundation for future issues regarding how much a company can receive financially for patents that are standards essential, such as the h.264 and wireless patents involved in this case. Microsoft uses some of Motorola’s patents, and for that use Motorola sought more than 4 billion dollars.
U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle, Washington gave his ruling on Thursday, saying that rather than the billions it wanted, Motorola Mobility is actually owned more in the range of $1.8 million annually from Microsoft for its use of the patents. The judge went on to elaborate on this decision, explaining why the rate is so much lower than what was being sought.
Dozens of entities all have, for example, wireless standards-essential patents, and the cost of paying the wanted rate out to each of them for using the technology would result in wireless networking costs exceedingly high. Needless to say, Microsoft was satisfied with the decision, but Motorola was less enthused, giving a rather generic statement that it licenses its patents at rates similar to other companies in the same industry.