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German Court Bans Motorola Devices Using Microsoft's FAT

Motorola Mobility's Android-based smartphones that use a file-name management technology owned by Microsoft are now banned from sale in Germany.

The decision affects some of Motorola's Droid smartphones. A lower regional court in Mannheim, Germany today ruled against that Motorola in a patent dispute with Microsoft over the use of Microsoft's File Allocation Table intellectual property, which permits long file names to be used.

Motorola can still appeal the court's decision. However, a Computerworld article, citing a spokesperson from the Mannheim court, indicated that Motorola can be ordered to hand over the infringing technology to the court for destruction. Motorola may also have to post a €10- to €30-million security deposit.

Motorola Mobility is now owned by Google, which fostered the Android mobile operating system. Android has been a litigation target for both Microsoft and Apple, which offer competing mobile OSes for the smartphone market. It's thought that Google bought Motorola Mobility, in part, to bolster its patent holdings for legal defensive purposes. Microsoft claims to have obtained licensing agreements from about 70 percent of U.S. hardware manufacturers using Android in their products.

Microsoft and Motorola have mostly battled over software user interface patents, rather than radio technology patents. The smartphone mobile OS market is currently dominated by Android, followed by Apple's iOS. Microsoft's Windows Phone OS trails badly at single-digits use.

Microsoft hasn't always been scoring court wins. This month, Motorola was found by the Mannheim court to not have infringed a system event monitoring system patented by Microsoft, according to a Computerworld article. That same German court found in May that Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming console, Internet Explorer browser and Windows Media Player 12 products infringed Motorola's patents on H.264 standard video codec technology.

Microsoft's litigation is ongoing in the United States, too. The U.S. International Trade Commission decided in May that some Motorola mobile products using Android had infringed on a Microsoft ActiveSync patent. Devices using a certain meeting request technology were enjoined from being imported into the United States.

Microsoft and Apple have lodge a complaint with the European Commission that Motorola has been asking too much for its standard essential patents, such as the H.264 claim. Standard essential patents are supposed to be offered on fair and nondiscriminatory terms -- in other words, the companies need to be able to pay the royalties and still compete in the market.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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