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Microsoft: Keep Moto vid codec patent fight in US, not Germany

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Microsoft has filed a motion in the US to stop Motorola Mobility from enforcing an injunction it may win in a German court next month.

The software behemoth asked a stateside judge to "preserve the status quo" in the market pending the outcome of a separate Microsoft-Motorola patent face-off in a Washington court.

Microsoft hopes to strike a worldwide licensing deal with Motorola in that US legal battle - but fears the enforcement of an injunction in Germany will derail hope for a global agreement.

Redmond lawyers filed their case against Motorola Mobility in America in November 2010 and the German lawsuit was brought by Motorola in July 2011 - so Microsoft is essentially saying that Motorola shouldn't be allowed to go behind its back and hamstring it in Europe over the same issues.

Once again, the US fight is over standards-essential patents, and Microsoft wants to force Motorola Mobility to honour its commitment to license them under fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms (FRAND).

On 17 April, the court in Mannheim is due to rule on a case filed by a Motorola subsidiary over patents for the H.264 video codec standard, patent watcher Florian Mueller reports.

If Motorola wins a preliminary injunction in that case, the ban would apply to Windows 7, Internet Explorer 9, Windows Media Player and the Xbox 360, which all use that codec.

It's most likely that Microsoft will appeal against such a ruling anyway, so if Motorola wanted to enforce the ban it would have to post a bond to pay back MS if the injunction was overturned. For this reason, companies often wait to enforce bans until after the appeals process.

"If Motorola’s sharp tactics are allowed to unfold, Microsoft will be denied a meaningful remedy in this action. 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," the firm said in its latest filing in Washington.

Microsoft is even offering a $300m bond to the court to cover any lost licensing fees for Motorola if it doesn't get to enforce the injunction and is later made the victor in the case.

The Washington court will now look for a response from Motorola before a hearing on Microsoft's motion on 20 April. ®

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