Updated: Just days after Google closed its purchase of Motorola Mobility, Microsoft is seeking an injunction to ban the sale of Android device sales in Germany.
The suit is based on Motorola’s alleged infringement of a text message patent held by Redmond. Of course, it’s also part of a German tit-for-tat battle between the companies — last time round it was Motorola that won a ‘ban’ on Microsoft’s Windows and Xbox sales.
The latest decision came through on Thursday afternoon from the Munich regional court. As usual, it won’t mean anything concrete until Microsoft tries to enforce it, which would require posting a €25 million ($31 million) bond. No word yet on whether Microsoft will do that.
What Microsoft spokesman Thomas Baumgartner did tell me was this:
“We are pleased the court agreed today that Motorola has infringed on Microsoft’s intellectual property and we hope Motorola will be willing to join other Android device makers by taking a license to our patents.”
Text messaging functionality is pretty fundamental stuff, but this isn’t one of those standards-essential patents that are supposed to be unusable as legal weapons.
It should be noted that Microsoft also won a U.S. import ban on Motorola’s Android devices in the last week, although the ITC also decided Moto deserved a ban on Xbox 360 imports a few days after that. The ITC rulings were preliminary rulings that do not go into force unless they are uphold by a large panel and then by the President.
In the past, the ITC has delayed the implementation of import bans in the mobile sector in order to allow companies to develop workarounds.
Update: Motorola has issued a statement.
“We are pleased that the Munich Court ruled Motorola Mobility did not infringe Microsoft’s EP 0 669 021 patent, which relates to a specific way to localize programs. For Microsoft’s EP 1 304 891 patent, which relates to processing of long SMS messages, we expect a written decision from the court on June 1st and upon review, will explore all options including appeal. This is one element of a global dispute initiated by Microsoft.”