Microsoft has won a small victory this week in US courts that will help its situation in Germany, where Motorola is seeking an injunction on Windows and Xbox products. The US ruling does not prevent a ban, if any is granted, but instead delays Motorola’s ability to enforce such a ban until after the dispute over “fair and reasonable” licensing between the two companies is resolved here in the states.
Motorola claims that Microsoft is infringing on its patents that are essential to the H.264 video encoding standard. The essential patents, however, fall under FRAND (fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory) licensing requirements, which means that Motorola is obligated to license the technology under reasonable terms, even to major rivals.
Microsoft is accusing Motorola of demanding exorbitant licensing fees for the technology that’s 1,125x what other firms ask for. Motorola has reportedly requested as much as $4 billion a year for Microsoft’s use of the technology on the Xbox 360 console. Windows 7, Internet Explorer, and Windows Media Player are also listed as infringing products.
Hence, the ruling this week, which grants a restraining order to Microsoft, will require the determination of whether Motorola has obeyed FRAND terms to be completed prior to any bans being enforceable in Germany, should the Manheim courts grant the injunctions in its April 17 decision. Microsoft has already begun re-routing its German distribution hub in preparation of the potential ban.