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Microsoft wins third German patent victory over Google Motorola technology

Warwick Ashford

Microsoft has won a third victory in Germany over Google's Motorola unit in the ongoing patent wars between the two companies.

A German court ruled that several Motorola tablets and phones infringe a Microsoft patented method for apps to handle different kinds of user input, such as on-screen letter and numeric keyboards, handwriting and drawing interfaces, and voice recognition, according to the BBC.

Samsung, HTC and others smartphone makers have licensed the technology from Microsoft, but Motorola had resisted. Google now faces additional sales restrictions on its products in Germany unless it makes significant changes to its Android operating system (OS).

Commentators believe it may be easier for Google to pay a licence fee than to issue a software update for its Android OS.

"We're pleased this decision builds on previous rulings in Germany that have already found Motorola is broadly infringing Microsoft's intellectual property," said David Howard, Microsoft's deputy general counsel.

"We will continue to enforce injunctions against Motorola products in Germany and hope Motorola will join other Android device makers by taking a licence to Microsoft's patented inventions."

Google said in a statement that it is waiting for the court’s written decision and is evaluating its options, including an appeal.

What next for Microsoft and Google?

Microsoft has the option of pressing for a sales ban or recall, but that would mean agreeing to a multi-million euro bond, which could be lost if Google wins its appeal and Microsoft has to compensate its rival for lost sales revenue.

Microsoft has already forced Motorola products off German store shelves after winning earlier cases, involving file system and text messaging patents.

In May, Google won a German sales ban on Microsoft's Xbox 360 games consoles, the Windows 7 OS, the Internet Explorer (IE) browser and Windows Media Player. But Google could not enforce a ban because a US judge intervened.

He wants to consider Microsoft's claim that Google had demanded an unreasonable licence fee for the H.264 video patents at the centre of the case. Google is obliged to offer industry standard technologies to everyone in return for a "reasonable" fee.

The case is set to go to trial on 13 November. Microsoft has said it would pay a licence for the technology if a "fair" price were set.


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