US court says Motorola can't enforce Windows injunction

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A US judge has ruled that Motorola won't be able to enforce an injunction preventing Microsoft from selling Windows products in Germany.

A decision is expected next week over a patent infringement suit filed by Motorola in Germany and relating to licenses deemed essential to the H.264 video codec standard.

But, unusually, Microsoft has asked for and received permission from a US court to ignore any injunction that might be issued. Judge James Robart, who's currently hearing a related case in the Western District of Washington, that any halt on sales would have to wait until after a May 7 hearing.

Microsoft argued that it was in the US courts' interest to place a block on the injunction, as if it went ahead the US would be unable to make its own ruling. And the US should have forst dibs, argied Microsoft, as Microsoft's US suit against Motorola was filed first.

"If Motorola's sharp tactics are allowed to unfold, Microsoft will be denied a meaningful remedy in this action," Microsoft claimed in its motion.

"Microsoft seeks a preliminary injunction here to preserve the status quo, to preserve this Court's ability to grant Microsoft meaningful relief, and to prevent irreparable harm to Microsoft and the public in the meantime."

It's the latest round in a fight between the two companies over fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) patents that's been going on for well over a year. Microsoft's lawsuit against Motorola centers around Motorola's policies over making essential patents available to competitors.

"Motorola promised to make its patents available to Microsoft and other companies on fair and reasonable terms," says David Howard, Microsoft's deputy general counsel in response to this latest decision.

"Today's ruling means Motorola can't prevent Microsoft from selling products until the court decides whether Motorola has lived up to its promise."