US court prevents Motorola from blocking Microsoft products

12 Apr 2012

A US judge has given Microsoft a motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent Motorola from blocking the sale of Microsoft’s products in Germany in their patent dispute.

A judge in the US District of Western Washington in Seattle made the ruling which will prevent Motorola from using its patents to block the sale of Microsoft products until a court decides if Motorola is offering its patents under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms.

“Motorola promised to make its patents available to Microsoft and other companies on fair and reasonable terms,” said Microsoft’s general counsel David Howard in a statement.

“Today’s ruling means Motorola can’t prevent Microsoft from selling products until the court decides whether Motorola has lived up to its promise,” he said.

The ruling stems from a dispute between Motorola and Microsoft over Motorola’s patents. In November 2011, Microsoft sued Motorola, claiming it charged excessive royalties for its patents. Motorola then countersued, claiming Microsoft infringed 16 of its patents.

Microsoft claims these patents are based on common technical standards used to build compatible products for video playback and internet connectivity. It said Motorola and other companies previously agreed to make standard essential patents available on FRAND terms.

This ruling will mean a US court will need to determine whether or not Motorola is making its patents available on fair terms before Motorola can get any injunction on Microsoft’s products.

The European Commission is also undertaking two antitrust investigations against Motorola to see if it contravened commitments it made to standard-setting organisations and distorted competition in the EU.

Microsoft is not the only company locked in a patent dispute with Motorola. Apple also sued Motorola with claims it violated FRAND terms. Motorola retaliated, saying it tried to agree to fair licensing terms for its patents but Apple refused them.