Friday, October 5, 2012

German court holds that Android does not infringe Microsoft's radio interface patent

This morning, the Mannheim Regional Court sided with Motorola Mobility on one of Microsoft's various patent assertions against the Google subsidiary. Presiding Judge Andreas Voss ("Voß" in German) announced the decision, which Microsoft may and presumably will appeal.

Today's ruling validates my assessment after the August trial that a finding of non-infringement of EP1233343 on a "method and radio interface layer comprising a set of application programming interfaces (APIs)" was more likely than not to be the outcome. It was not a foregone conclusion, but it appeared difficult for Microsoft's lawyers to overcome the court's apparent skepticism. Judge Voss did not explain the reasons for the decision at today's announcement.

This was the last Microsoft v. Motorola Mobility decision to come down in Germany this year. A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft won its third German injunction against Motorola, making this year a highly successful one for Microsoft's German countersuits. Yes, countersuits: while Microsoft was first to sue Motorola in the United States (two years ago), it was Motorola's choice in the summer of 2011 to turn this dispute into a transoceanic one.

In retrospect, Microsoft should actually thank Motorola for this initiative, which at this stage has been far more productive for Microsoft than for Google. In the United States, patent litigation is awfully slow. Microsoft has won an import ban that is being enforced but relates to only one patent (on a meeting scheduler feature). Most of Microsoft's U.S. claims against Motorola Mobility haven't been adjudged yet. Motorola isn't enforcing anything against Microsoft anywhere in the world at this juncture. It has only won one German injunction but hasn't been able to enforce it yet and, after losing an appeal, most likely won't be allowed to enforce it anytime soon, if ever. Google, which faces an increasing number of Android infringement findings and spent $12.5 billion on this acquisition, undoubtedly wanted more bang for the buck.

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