Microsoft Trounces Google in Battle Over Standards-Essential Patents
A federal jury in Seattle late Wednesday found that Motorola failed to license its standards-essential patents related to the H.264 video standard and the 802.11 wireless standard on FRAND (fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory) terms, in breach of its industry obligation to do so. And it awarded Microsoft about $14.5 million in damages for Motorola’s misstep.
That’s only about half of what Microsoft sought. But, taken together with the ruling from the first stage of the case, which found that Microsoft should pay only $1.8 million a year in licensing fees for the patents Motorola was demanding $4 billion for, it’s a precedent-setting victory and an embarrassing blow to Google.
“This is a landmark win for all who want products that are affordable and work well together,” David Howard, Microsoft deputy general counsel, said in an statement. “The jury’s verdict is the latest in a growing list of decisions by regulators and courts telling Google to stop abusing patents.”
As I said, an embarrassing blow to Google. Not only does the verdict call into question the wisdom of the company’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, it has made it possible for a rival like Microsoft to publicly lambaste it as a patent troll. Accurately. And there may be further fallout yet.
Remember, Microsoft isn’t the only company to which Google/Motorola Mobility refused to license standards-essential patents on FRAND terms. A few years back, BlackBerry signed an SEP licensing deal with Google/Motorola Mobility under duress and threat of litigation. Will it now circle back, looking to use Wednesday’s jury verdict to seek an adjustment on royalties or a rebate on those already paid?
Certainly possible, though it will first have to wait and see how Google/Motorola fares on appeal.
“We’re disappointed in this outcome, but look forward to an appeal of the new legal issues raised in this case,” a Motorola spokesman said in a statement. “In the meantime, we’ll focus on building great products that people love.”