German Patent Wars Thin Out Motorola’s Offerings

Published on October 8, 2012
by John Paczkowski

Google’s Teutonic patent battles are severly impacting the availability of its mobile devices in Germany.

Point your browser at the German Web site of its Motorola Mobility division and you’ll find a paucity of smartphones, not a single Android tablet, and a notice promising some updated devices by the end of July.

July has come and gone, of course. And now we’re well into October and those promised updated devices are nowhere to be found. Why the delay?

We put that question to both Google and its Motorola subsidiary and neither has yet responded, but there’s one obvious explanation: The multiple injunctions against Motorola Mobility products that Microsoft and Apple have won in Germany. To date, Microsoft been granted three separate injunctions against Motorola Mobility in Germany. Apple has won three as well. So with half a dozen injunctions against it, Google likely had no recourse but to yank much of its allegedly infringing portfolio, leaving the German smartphone markets with just the Razr, the Razr i, and the Gleam HD + — a fraction of its handset portfolio.

An irksome situation, I imagine, for Google, which spent $12.5 billion on Motorola Mobility not just to “supercharge the Android ecosystem,” but to acquire a patent portfolio with which to protect its mobile OS. At this point, that costly acquisition doesn’t appear to have succeeded at either.

Update: Reached for comment, a Motorola spokeswoman said the decline in devices we’re seeing in Germany was planned all along. “As we have previously stated Motorola Mobility is focusing on fewer mobile devices,” she told AllThingsD. “As a result we have phased out some of our lower tier devices in Europe/Germany.”

And what of those updated devices the company promised by the end of July? Who knows …

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