Microsoft wins sales ban against infringing Motorola devices in Germany

Microsoft wants the Google owned company to sign an Android license agreement

The sale of Motorola's Android devices that infringe on a Microsoft patent was banned in Germany on Friday after a ruling of the lower regional Mannheim court, a court spokesman said.

Friday's decision impacts Motorola devices that use a technology called FAT (File Allocation Table), for internal storage. The ban includes phones like the Motorola Atrix, the Droid Razr and the Droid Razr Maxx.

Motorola was found to infringe on Microsoft's FAT patent, a patent that concerns a "common name space for long and short filenames." The File Allocation Table is a file system that traditionally only supports short file names that are rigid, and makes it hard to give media files like photos understandable and searchable names. Microsoft patented the technology that allows media files using the FAT storage system to carry flexible names so people can easily label and find their media.

Motorola has to inform Microsoft of the number of products sold that used the patent since Jan. 12, 2002, Joachim Bock, spokesman for the Mannheim court said in an email. All infringing products that Motorola still possesses in Germany are to be handed over to a bailiff to be destroyed, the court ruled, Bock said. All products that are already in the sales channel have to be recalled, he added.

The court also ordered Motorola to compensate for damages caused by selling infringing products, Bock said, adding that the decision is not final and can be appealed. "If Microsoft wants to execute the decision now, they will have to pay a security deposit which is between 10 and 30 million euro," Bock said.

"Today's decision, which follows similar rulings in the U.S. and Germany, is further proof that Motorola Mobility is broadly infringing Microsoft's intellectual property," Microsoft said in a statement adding that the company will continue to enforce injunctions against Motorola Mobility products in those countries. Microsoft hopes Motorola will join other Android device makers by taking a license to Microsoft's patented inventions, the company said.

Motorola did not immediately comment on today's ruling.

Microsoft was granted an injunction against Motorola products last May when the lower regional court in Munich found that Google-owned Motorola Mobility had infringed a Microsoft patent related to SMS messaging with certain Android devices. Microsoft said it has since enforced an injunction based on this decision requiring Motorola to remove infringing products from its sales channels in Germany.

Microsoft has signed license agreements for Android with vendors including Samsung Electronics and HTC, leading to charges that it is building a revenue stream from patents. But Motorola Mobility has not agreed to a license deal.

Loek covers all things tech for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

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