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U.S. Court Grants Microsoft Preliminary Injunction Restraining Motorola in Patent Case

A U.S. District Court judge of Western Washington at Seattle has granted Microsoft’s motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Motorola Mobility, which Microsoft filed two weeks ago.

Meaning, Motorola will not able to seek an injunction against Microsoft products on a couple of patents allegedly essential to the H.264 video codec standard using the technology in – products including Windows 7, Xbox, Bing, Windows Media Player, and the Internet Explorer – until after a German court decides the case, which is scheduled for April 17.

If Motorola wins in Germany, it will not be able to force Microsoft to pay the licensing fees or stop using the technology until after the Seattle court decides the case.

“Motorola promised to make its patents available to Microsoft and other companies on fair and reasonable terms. Today’s ruling means Motorola can’t prevent Microsoft from selling products until the court decides whether Motorola has lived up to its promise,” stated Microsoft Deputy General Counsel David Howard.

The decision comes after a lengthy legal battle between the two companies, each of which have sued each other in multiple countries over the video technology patents.

Motorola opposed Microsoft’s motion. It didn’t even want it to be brought in the first place, realizing that this initiative could — as it did — thwart Motorola’s attempted end run around the Seattle litigation. Microsoft brought its federal complaint over Motorola’s alleged breach of FRAND licensing obligations in November 2010, approximately eight months before Motorola’s German lawsuits against Microsoft.

Microsoft has claimed that Motorola is violating a previous agreement to allow technology companies to use the patents if they paid a fair licensing fee, and instead is demanding large payments for use of the patents. Microsoft earlier said that if Motorola gets its way, it will charge Microsoft $22.50 in royalty fees for each $1,000 laptop that uses its patents.

The FRAND issues before the Seattle court will be decided later this year. The main trial is scheduled for late November, but a separate FRAND “mini-trial” will take place ahead of the main trial.

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