Windows 7, Internet Explorer Banned by German Court

Dennis Faas's picture

Motorola has won a court ruling that bans the distribution of most major Microsoft products in Germany. However, it's not yet clear if the landmark ban will actually be enforced.

A German court granted Motorola an injunction covering distribution of Windows 7, Windows Media Player, Internet Explorer, and the Xbox 360 video game console in that country.

If the ban is ever enforced, it would prevent those software and hardware products from being sold in Germany -- presumably until the patent dispute between Microsoft and Motorola is finally settled.

However, a U.S. court has issued a ruling preventing Motorola from seeking enforcement of the German injunction until a further hearing stateside, scheduled for May 7, 2012.

Because Motorola is an American firm, it must obey this ruling. (Source:

HD Video at Heart of Case

The case involves H.264, one of the most popular technologies for producing and distributing high-definition video on computers. Motorola believes Microsoft is using the technology in a way that violates Motorola's patents.

The German court hasn't actually decided if there has been a violation. However, the injunction suggests it is taking the claim seriously.

The German decision was probably no surprise to Microsoft, which recently moved its European distribution center from Germany to the Netherlands to minimize the effects of any such injunction. (Source:

Microsoft Accuses Motorola of Acting Unreasonably

The American court case is actually about whether Motorola has acted fairly in enforcing its patents. Microsoft argues the patents involve standards, or technologies designed to make different products work together smoothly, thus helping the entire industry.

Microsoft argues Motorola is required to license such technologies on a "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory" basis, so it can't refuse to license the patented technology, and it can't charge too much to do so.

If a patent-holder doesn't follow these principles, other legal actions over patent violations may be invalid.

Google's Shadow Looms Over Battle

Both cases are part of a much wider series of patent-related court battles involving Microsoft, Apple, and manufacturers of Android devices. Many of these cases have been filed in Germany, where costs of legal action are usually low.

Google's ongoing takeover of Motorola has raised the stakes in these legal battles, causing experts to ponder whether Google could become responsible for Motorola's court actions.

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